Why you should book direct

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACumbria encourages it. So does Cornwall, the New Forest and Mid-Wales. Should you listen to their advice?

Mid Wales Tourism (MWT) is the latest destination area to encourage tourists to book directly with businesses and thus avoid commission charges.

Why?

‘Fair Booking Wales’ will direct visitors via the MWT website to the accommodation owner, meaning businesses will be able to keep a larger share of the fee paid. In return, participating businesses agree to provide the best deal available to customers who book direct, and are encouraged to throw in complimentary extras as a bonus. Businesses are also encouraged to make a small donation to a local charity in order to provide added benefits to the local community.

But can the visitor be assured of getting the best rate? The only way to know is to check with the booking agency first and then ring the hotel, guesthouse or B&B concerned. But if you get a matched rate, no money will be around to beneft the hotelier and the commission structure will continue. This is one of those times when we should expect to pay a little more than via an agency. Will the accommodation provider not just pocket the difference? Not if they have signed up to one of these four schemes.

In Cumbria alone, an estimated £50 million a year leaves the local economy in commission payments to online travel agencies.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about the high commissions that booking agencies charge hotels and other accommodation providers and suggested you book direct and “negotiate” a better rate. This applies particularly to smaller places who will negotiate a rate where yu get a better rate and they make more money than if you have booked via an agency. Not two weeks ago I got a room at a four star hotel in Leeds for much less than £145 that appeared on the hotel website. It can be done and the efforts by these four areas to encourage money to remain in the local economy and improve the visitor offerring should be welcomed and copied elsewhere.

And people should stop using the booking agencies wherever possible. That way. the providers and we holidaymakers both win in the long run.

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