While the dust has settled following Dick Smith’s impassioned video plea for Aussies to book direct with accommodation providers, moteliers say they are still reaping the benefits.
In a viral social media video, Smith compared the online travel agents to “standover men” for their rate parity clauses preventing operators from advertising cheaper rates online to attract bookings free of commission charges.
Chris Fozard of the Budget Motel Chain said that while the impetus of the campaign had slowed, the impact members were experiencing following the release of the viral video remained “quite positive”.
Fozard reported the following increases in bookings:
- Average increase on OTA bookings: 5 percent
- Increase on members own websites: 15 percent
- Average increase on Budget Motel owned websites: 50 percent
“Although the comments about the direct bookings have slowed down somewhat, which is to be expected as they becomes more regular, we do still receive the odd comment about how pleased our members are about the regularity of them,” he said.
“We have also been contacted by a few motels and caravan parks who have seen the Budget Motel Chain name mentioned in a few comments and have called up to thank us as well as enquiring about other ways they could reduce the reliance, and impact, of the OTAs.”
Dom O’Shaughnessy of Sunset Cove Resort in Noosa agreed the campaign had positively impacted bookings. The resort advertises the words “Book direct and save” and “Best rates guaranteed” prominently throughout its website pages.
O’Shaughnessy says he’s like to see the Australian Resident Accommodation Managers Association and other accommodation organisations get behind the campaign.
“I’m sure that the majority of resort managers would like this go out on free-to-air television in some form even if they had to make a contribution or subsidise an advertising campaign,” he said of the Dick Smith video.
Carol Giuseppi of Tourism Accommodation Australia said she believed the campaign had “caused a lot of people to re-evaluate the way they book”.
New Zealand is now looking to jump on the Australian bandwagon, with accommodation owners hopeful the Australian push for a rate parity ban will rub off across the ditch.
Nik Kiddle, owner of the lakeside resort Villa Del Lago in Queenstown, said: “It’s fantastic to see what Dick Smith has done in Australia. I applaud him wholeheartedly and I’m sure that if it does get taken up in New Zealand as a result; well, there will be a lot of accommodation providers in the country that will be forever in his debt.
“There’s widespread discontent in the New Zealand accommodation sector that we have not been allowed to put prices on the internet that are below those of the OTAs.”