What is ethical booking?

By | Category: Travel news
Fair Booking is not just for the leisure traveller  © Dan Sperrin

Fair Booking is not just for the leisure traveller © Dan Sperrin

Ethical or fair booking is where businesses agree to provide the best deal available to customers who book direct and are encouraged to throw in complimentary extras as a bonus.

In return, for every direct booking made, participating businesses pledge to make a donation of a set value to a local charity of their choice. By encouraging customers to book direct with a business to get the best deal, businesses benefit by avoiding a hefty commission charged every time a booking is made via an online travel agency or booking agency. In some cases I have been made aware that this can be as high as 21% of the rate that customers pay.

Booking directs will enable tourism businesses to keep a larger share of the fee paid by guests booking their accommodation and you can still “bargain” with the accommodation to apy less than the listed rate. More than 35 countries worldwide are now taking part in this initiative. Wales has become only the fourth destination in the UK to sign up to Fair Book, following Cumbria Tourism, the New Forest Destination Partnership and Visit Cornwall.

Called FairBooking™ Wales, for each direct booking received, participating businesses give a minimum of 50p to a charity of their choice. It also is likely to keep more money in the  community as many accommodation providers are locally owned. In many cases, that means the community will benefit because local produce is likely to be bought and locals are likely to get jobs.

But should there be a need for it in the first place? It surely wouldn’t have come about if online travel agents had charged a reasonable amount of commission, say 10 or 15%. Domiciled in places outside the area where the hotel is situated, money seaps or maybe floods away from where the service is provided bringing no benefit to the community.

It is easy to say that the business model of the online travel agencies mirrors what bricks and mortar businesses have done for generations. That’s true. The  difference is that many businesses and communities are not prepared to tolerate that any more.

Fair Booking has been established for over eighteen months now. It hasn’t set the wolrd alight as, for example, Airbnb did. But then Airbnb is seven years old and that took a few years to get recognised. Will Fair Booking be the the new Airbnb?

Will Fair Booking make a difference? Amongst domestic holiday takers it might. From overseas holidaymakers it probably won’t have much of an impact because the big established names give them security and trust. But after one visit, and learning about Fair Booking, they may be prepared to give it a go.


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