Moteliers are reporting a 25 percent rise in direct bookings thanks to Dick Smith’s anti-OTA campaign.
The entrepreneur’s viral social media video urging Aussies to bypass commission-charging online travel agents (OTAs) and contact motels direct has prompted an explosion of in-person bookings.
Budget Motel Group operations manager, Chris Fozard, told Accomnews: “We have had some great feedback from our members about the increase in direct phone bookings they are now receiving, as well as an increase in bookings done on their own websites by an average of 25% across the Budget Motel Chain.”
“We are really excited about what is happening.”
Among the feedback are the comments:
- Hi, just had a booking as a result of Dick Smith interviews last night.
- Hi, I just had a three-day booking. They saw Dick Smith on the tele and wanted to book direct ya.
- I have had two customers say they saw Dick Smith and did not realise the OTAs were doing this to small businesses. I gave them a discount on the room rate.
- Had our first enquiry about calling direct for better rates on the weekend. They heard Dick’s message!
- A staff member of a company told their office to only book direct now. The office sent thorough their credit card details to put on file.
The surge in direct bookings has coincided with Agoda, a hotel booking service owned by Booking Holdings (owner of Booking.com and Priceline.com) sending out the following “important note” to prospective guests.
“In order to protect your identity and property, always communicate through the Agoda messaging platform. Anyone asking you to contact them outside of our system should be reported to [email protected] as they may be attempting to gain access to your email account or personal details.”
The message, asking guests to report accommodation owners who contact them direct, is described as “a bit devious” by Fozard.
While moteliers are heartened by the impact of Dick Smith’s campaign, one accommodation group is pushing for Airbnb’s inclusion on his target list.
Debbie Noonan of the Registered Accommodation Providers of the Margaret River Region is urging Smith to pressure “the one OTA he seems to be missing, who is doing way more damage than them all and gets to sit at the governments table when they make decisions changing the face of Australia”.
Noonan says the region’s registered accommodation businesses are struggling in the face of a 200 percent growth in unregulated holiday home numbers over the past two years.
“At its current growth of four percent per month, our region will soon have a ratio of one-in-five homes being a short-term holiday let, which will not only have a devastating effect on registered accommodation businesses, but on long term rentals availability and pricing and the community as a whole.
“Our group has now reached over 500 accommodation owners joining forces, and our Great Southern region has now asked to join so our numbers are about to sky rocket again, with nearly half of Western Australia united in this fight to protect not only our homes but our livelihoods.”
Airbnb’s Australian country manager for Australia, Sam McDonagh, says his organisation supports the introduction of “fair and progressive rules” to govern home sharing in Western Australia, with the state government currently looking to introduce reforms.