16 Mar 2016

Bloody Commissions

Let's start with an objective fact: our customers want to book safely and quickly, and large portals have the winning formula. In fact, they work well with any peripheral device, their content is well edited and they convey that sense of trust that makes them market leaders. Finally, let's not forget the impressive financial resources invested in search engines.

So why not leave it all to them?

This is more or less the speech we all made.


But then you realise that the percentage to be paid is really high, too high compared to the margin of our industry.

And it is only then that we remember that we too have a website, where we can sell our rooms, our welcome in the way we see fit and, above all, without paying anything.

Sometimes, however, our websites are forgotten, inadequate for their function and with little chance of generating appreciable sales for two fundamental reasons.

The first is of a technical nature: obsolete platforms and graphics, poor usability of content, no Booking Engine, unusable on mobile devices.

But let's be optimistic and assume for a moment that we have a good and functional web, professional hosting and good indexing. However, sales don't take off: we come to the second reason we were talking about.

The OTA oblige us to have parity of rates, but they are often the first to fail to do so, sometimes with our unconscious consent, granting lower rates than those published on our site. We could talk about other mechanisms (currency, etc.) that portals regularly use to sell better than us, but there are too many pages of them.


It still often happens that our rates are not in line (again, to the advantage of the OTAs) or, even worse, that the availability of rooms is not in sync, so that the paradox is that the inventory given for sale is greater than that sold directly.

Professional tools to check what is happening with our rates on the network, what our competitors are doing, time, effort, resources. Continuous but essential work. Necessary. This is what it would take to start selling without intermediaries.

Many small businesses do not have big budgets to invest and find no better solution than to pay those damn commissions.

And here come hundreds of experts and companies that know just one word, Revenue. Yes, because today if you don't do revenue, if you don't rely on them, you are destined to find your rooms increasingly empty and dusty: in short, you are a dinosaur on the road to extinction.

It is not my intention to generalise or worse offend many serious professionals in the sector but, like all explosive phenomena, the market is swarming with hotel sales gurus who promise huge increases in sales. These gentlemen, as if they were the repositories of unique secrets, are convinced that setting the price of a room at 39.99 will make your business take off and that, considering price as the main determining factor for choice, all you have to do is lower your prices to solve all your problems.

The thing that puzzles me most is that most of these experts don't even have the faintest idea of what an accommodation facility is and how it works because -simply- in many cases, they are not from our world. So they think they are selling a room in the same way as a gadget or a loan.

Let's be serious: revenue is simply a sales technique or strategy, but at the heart of it all is our product.

Behind that 39.99 rate there is a room with its own quality standard, there is a front office and there is also the passion and dedication of those who spend time there every day hoping to make it better and better.

The problem is that someone will have been squeezed like a lemon by these gentlemen in the meantime.

Do we want to get help from someone to properly market our assets in the online world? Good decision if we don't have the time, resources and know-how. But at least let's make sure that these gentlemen, in addition to spouting terms like RevPar, NetRate and ProPAR, also know something about the world of hospitality and how it works.

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