I watched an ad this morning from Hilton Inns about booking direct with them and all of the advantages. Then I received an email from PABBI about February 6th being #BookDirect day. It was time for me to tell you about the stand I took.
Long about August of last year I started wondering why with all the reservations I was getting through Expedia, Travelocity, etc. also known as OTAs, there was no uptick in occupancy and in fact many of my returning guests were booking through these sites. Certainly was worth a conversation.
Come to find out, many of these returning guests thought they were booking on my website and they were being misled. I disassociated myself with all the OTAs, updated Trip Advisor and started trying to outwit Google. So let’s talk about the issues here. It is not all about me, the Innkeeper. It is all about what is in it for you the guest.
#BookDirect lets me talk to Harrington House guests!
If you do not #BookDirect, you don’t get to talk to me until you get here. OTAs want to keep themselves between you and me, your host. A stay at a Bed and Breakfast is an intimate experience and we want to make sure we can give you the best possible experience when you visit my home. We can talk about all the things to do around Milford and the best places to eat and shop. And when you book directly with me, your email address won’t get sucked up in a vast data mining and marketing machine.
How do you want to spend your money?
OTAs make their money by charging either the traveler who books a room or the place of lodging — or both. Their strategies vary. They also charge you the full amount of your stay when you make your reservation.
Most B&Bs will charge a deposit but the balance is still in your pocket until you arrive. If you are planning a stay months in advance, this is money in your pocket.
Other benefits of #BookDirect with a B&B
If you go directly to my website, you will not only see more photos and get a better feel for the place, but also:
- All available rooms for the days you want will be shown on our booking calendar.
- All dates can be searched on the inn’s own reservation system. I have personally taken Harrington House off of the OTA sites so they may tell you I have no availability when I do. Other Inns may block OTA access to certain dates when they know they will sell out anyway.
- You might find last-minute deals or additional services. Maybe it’s something extra added, a freebie. Maybe it’s a price cut on a room not covered by the inn’s contract with the OTA. It sure seems worth a look.
- The opportunity to get personalized information in answer to questions or issues important to you. Have you ever tried communicating with a property owner via an OTA’s email system? The OTA watches over all exchanges to make sure the two parties are not cheating the OTA. Meanwhile, the clunky exchanges between disguised email addresses cheat guests and innkeepers out of genuine human interaction.
When it comes to making reservations for a B&B, who serves you better? The middlemen building online empires by charging you fees and/or gouging small businesses? Or the folks who will greet you by name at their door, show you to a lovely room, and serve you a great breakfast in the morning? #BookDirect.’