The town where OTAs are considered as deadly as the crown-of-thorns starfish

Irate Port Douglas accom owners frustrated by OTA commissions have set up their own tourism collective to create a more powerful voice to challenge the booking giants.

The group argues the commissions reaped by online travel agencies “rival the crown-of-thorns starfish” as the area’s greatest threat.

Gerry Ireland, director of Port Douglas Direct, says operators in the region are shocked by the levels of revenue being lost to offshore bookings giants.

“This year, community Port Douglas will miss out on over $20 million,” said Mr Ireland.

“These are the fees paid to online travel agencies (OTAs) by the Port Douglas accommodation businesses.

“Sadly, it doesn’t stop there as this figure is increasing at around eight percent each year.

“Over the past ten years, more than $180 million has headed offshore. $180 million!”

Port Douglas Direct will operate as an overarching tourism and marketing company designed to provide benefits to the area’s property owners by leveraging the latest online technology.

It will employ “the very best technology and collective marketing ideals to place the power back in the hands of the business owners”, says Mr Ireland, and will be known as Discover Port Douglas when it launches later in 2018.

The group sees technology as the key to assisting businesses retain funds from accommodation bookings for the “benefit of locals, visitors and Australia”.

Mr Ireland says business owners are frustrated by a lack of action taken by representative bodies from the local Douglas Shire Council and Tourism Tropical North Queensland to the Queensland and Australian governments over online travel agency commissions.

Fellow director Glenn Smith says the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) established in 2001 has failed in its duty to flag the millions lost to Australian tourism through the commissions.

“Port Douglas cannot wait for ATDW to do something innovative and useful.

“The technology of the ATDW is years behind the times, so that’s why we bit the bullet, took action and brought these local businesses together to propose a solution.

 “This has implications for the whole of Australia. We are doing our bit by taking a lead here in Port Douglas,” he said.

According to the group, 90 percent of Port Douglas businesses rely on tourism for their income.

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5 years ago

Good luck to you!
I would have to say you are 10 years too late to take on the OTA’s who can out spend all of us put together. Our region has had a “Discover”, “Visit”, “Escape” websites servicing the Gold Coast, and hinterland area for years and even they cannot change the purchasing habits of new guests.
That is not to say their new website won’t be used to “discover” what to do around Port Douglas but will people book accommodation through it, well, lets wait and see.
The very best of luck to all accommodation businesses in gaining direct bookings.

Reply to  Richard
5 years ago

Thanks Richard, I think there is far much more to getting these successes than just a website and domain name. You have to follow the money and learn from it. That starts with the website that provides the very very best search, book and pay experience. Many of these type of business live in the dark ages on this process with Booking button and such. The bar level for search is set by these companies, you have to be better and Discover does that.

But then comes the real ” follow the money” you need to understand and get into the physic of especially users. Its the app, its everything they do mobile so we need to do it better and have already done so. Top that off with loyalty, local knowledge and offer the total holiday package and you are part of the way there. Rome will never be built in a day but you need to chip away and don’t take anything secondary along the line.

Thanks for your input, its going to be an interesting path but you cannot sit back and do nothing.

Alison Baker
5 years ago

Thinking of offering the same in our area. We already have a website that ranks well. Do you recommend building an app, if so what advise would you offer.

Tony and Miles Craven
Tony and Miles Craven
5 years ago

What we need is an app that takes the OTA traffic and distributes it to an Australian central website ????? for all Australian accommodation providers and secondly one would thank that someone know how to this as the OTA’s use our names in attracting guests. Surely we can do the same steal their traffic as they steal ours.!!!!!!!!!

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