Hotels

ACCC weighs in on Dick Smith’s “extortion” claims against booking sites

The Australian competition watchdog is encouraging Aussies to call hotels, rather than rely on booking sites if they want cheaper rates.

Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Rod Sims, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said there’s a “very good chance you’ll get a much better price” if you chose to forgo trawling the booking sites and book direct.

This comes just a week after Dick Smith made a video calling out US accommodation websites for “ripping off” family-owned small accommodation providers in rural or drought affected areas.

Personally, we love any video that starts with “Dick Smith here and I’m bloody angry!”

You can watch the delightful rant here.

In 2016, the ACCC brokered an agreement that lets small hotels give discounts over the phone they can’t give online, thus Smith and Sims’ insistence on jumping on the phone.

The Guardian conducted a survey to test this one out and found that across four capital cities, you can save up to 18 per cent in some states when you book over the phone, compared with Booking.com and Hotels.com.

“Once you find a hotel you want, ring them up,” Sims told the Guardian.

“I can’t guarantee it will happen every time, but I would think in the majority of cases you would get a better deal.”

Richard Munro of Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) has also joined Smith in calling on consumers to boycott booking sites for “extorting” small businesses.

Smith told the Guardian that some small hotels will lose 50 – 70 per cent of their bookings if they don’t sign up to the sites, which charge commissions of up to 25 per cent.

Sims said its very likely that the sites are hurting Australian businesses, and confirmed the ACCC would look into allowing hotels to advertise cheaper prices online.

“At first they were good. They gave hotels a wider audience than they would otherwise get,” he said.

“But they have become so universal now that a lot of hotels and motels believe that they won’t get any business unless they are signing contracts with these entities.”

Munro said the AAA will call for the ACCC to outlaw price-parity clauses completely.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

6 responses to “ACCC weighs in on Dick Smith’s “extortion” claims against booking sites”

  1. Wouldn’t it be great if the AAA actually did something proactively rather than re-actively …

    Dick Smith is spot on, and surely this is exactly what the AAA should be doing – a nation-wide campaign extolling to the public why it is best to always book direct (rather than a perpetual running commentary by press release).

  2. The concentration of market power enjoyed by just 2 major players, in concert with Google’s Adwords virtual monopoly leads to a serious imbalance. The ACCC’s ruling in 2016 simply endorsed price parity clauses.
    Ultimately, the consumer will benefit in terms of more competitive rates if smaller touurism operators are allowed to offer their best pricing in any way they see fit.
    Restricting this to a phone enquiry is archaic, inefficient and for logistical reasons will often not achieve the best rate available to the consumer.
    Once again, the ACCC doesn’t seem to “get it” !

  3. Dick well done!!! for taking on this battle for Aussie small hoteliers, One thing is guaranteed and always in consumers favour. Lets be smart about it, use these sites to get the best deal, then with googles help find the contact number and call hotel directly they will always match or are cheaper than the booking sites.

  4. It goes deeper than the commission rates. They try to run your business. I cancelled a booking from a blacklisted guest. Booking.com told me I could not cancel it. After a heated discussion, I was told in future I had to have a police report, send it to them (in the Netherlands) and they would decide whether it was serious enough for me to cancel the reservation! I was gobsmacked. I cancelled the reservation but developed anxiety and insomnia, as I was certain they were going to take me off the platform for my defiance! It would have ruined my business.

  5. It is disappointing with how many Australian companies use the sites to book their corporate employees for their stays. Often we are told that even though the corporate customers know by booking direct with the motel they will achieve a lowere rate than advertised,their hands are tied with company policy and procedures which dictates that they must book with a certain booking site. There needs to be a campaign on businesses to do the right thing and support the Australian accommodation industry by booking direct.

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Tourism

Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour off to shaky start, after tour operators caution company

Travel Weekly was disappointed to learn that Jules Verne does not make an appearance on the tour, and hopes that Airbnb’s next tour, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea features the author.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Ex-flight attendant reveals the most dangerous part of flying

An ex-flight attendant has told some eyebrow-raising stories of her time as a flight attendant, revealing the most dangerous part of her job.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

TripAdvisor reveals travellers picks for the world’s best experiences

Our friends at TripAdvisor have revealed the best experiences in the world, while the best experience of our day has been a burnt tongue from a hot cup of coffee.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Diversity, technology and the three-year picture: Three things we’ve learnt about Travel Counsellors

by Christian Fleetwood

TCX revealed some important insights into how Travel Counsellors do what they do. Here are three that stood out from the conference in Adelaide.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Aussie tourist slapped with $2,500 fee over broken nail

A friendly reminder to travellers heading to the US to PLEASE get travel insurance.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“Consumers have rights”: Dodgy travel agency busted by QLD grandmother

by Ali Coulton

Similarly, Travel Weekly’s editor has been busted taking more than his fair share of the office Tim Tam supply, which we find equally troubling.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Paris to phase out iconic paper metro tickets

It’s the end of an era folks: Say goodbye to finding Paris metro tickets in every jean and jacket pocket weeks after returning home.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

RESEARCH: Aussie travellers cutting down length of overseas trips

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are looking to buck the trend and find ways to EXTEND their overseas trips and spend less time in the office.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Aviation wrap: Emirates to reduce single-use plastic, Qantas’ new plane order, Western Sydney Airport update + MORE!

Felt a little in the dark lately about what’s been happening in the world of commercial aviation? This airline wrap should provide all the illumination you need.

Share

CommentComments

Breaking News

Travel Agents

Helloworld wins extension for prized government contract

It’s champagne and pats on the back throughout Helloworld offices today as the agency’s subsidiary QBT cops two more years to its government contract.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing facing class action by 400-plus pilots over 737 MAX’s “unprecedented cover-up”

More than 400 pilots have issued a class-action lawsuit against Boeing – the first of its kind to be issued against the company – over its problematic 737 MAX jet.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Get the gang together: Buy two Travel DAZE tickets and get one free!

With savings like these, you’re practically LOSING money if you don’t attend. Well, sort of.

Share

CommentComments