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.