Do you always book direct with the owner of a holiday rental or do you prefer to use an online travel agency? Before we started our holiday cottage business like many people we tended to use an OTA to book a stay, it felt ‘safer’ somehow. However through our experience we’ve found this not to be case and we would like to try to dispel some of the myths surrounding booking directly with owners and the differences you may find between booking direct and when you use an online agent. And importantly a few little tips on you how to ensure you can book direct and still book with confidence.
There are of course the very obvious reasons, no booking fee is normally applied when you book direct and prices are less likely to be over inflated than those often charged by an agent. OTA’s tend to have limited knowledge of a property and of the area you are wishing to visit, so there is the chance that the area or the property isn’t quite what you were hoping for. An owner knows their property inside out and knows their area better than anyone and more importantly as owners, we care about our property and your guest experience and we only want you to come and stay if it’s right for you. We absolutely don’t want you to stay if we think you won’t enjoy it or it isn’t going to be what you were expecting.
Book Direct – ‘No-one will care more about your guest experience than the owner themselves’
Sadly, there can be miscommunication between OTA’s and owners, an email doesn’t reach us or isn’t sent, a guest makes a change to a booking and that message just doesn’t get to us. When you book direct it is easy to communicate with us, there is no call centre, no queue and no third party involvement. Should you wish to arrive earlier or later or need to make changes or have a query or you would like to book some additional extras, we are more than happy to oblige in any way we can. OTA’s are dealing with hundreds of enquiries at any one time and it can be so very unfortunate if a message isn’t passed on to us. Likewise, it can be difficult for owners to communicate with future guests as some agents don’t give owners the guests contact details, so should an owner need to contact a guest it can be somewhat of a challenge.
When you book direct – It’s the difference between being chauffeur driven or taking the bus!
One of the not so obvious benefits is that you are very often supporting a small business when you book direct, a family business, a business which is part of a small community, a small business who in turn supports other local businesses. A small business who cares about their area, their property and cares that you have the best stay possible.
As well as the booking fee agents also earn commission from all bookings they take and this can be anywhere up to 25%, and this is deducted before the owner receives their payment, and in some cases isn’t made to the owner until after a guest has arrived for their stay.
So, how do you book direct and know that the business is genuine, how do you know that your payment is safe and how do you seek reassurance that when you arrive it’s going to be the right place for you?
Next time you’re searching online for a holiday or a weekend away if you can please look past all the paid adverts on your internet search, perhaps even keep going until you get to the second or even the third page, as quite often our lovely little businesses are hiding there, we don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds to put into search engine advertising, but we’re there all the same just hoping you’ll find us!
Booking direct undoubtedly has many added benefits for both parties but ultimately it has to feel right for you, and as owners we want you to feel confident when you book and this has never been more important than it is right now. As tourism starts up again and we begin to think of holidays and time away and we all try to adjust to our new normal you may feel you really want to know what changes will have been implemented and what new measures have been taken to keep you safe. Only the owner themselves will know this about their property and about their new protocols, only they will know what training they have undertaken and they will be ones who will be able to give you the reassurance you need to book with confidence.
If you’d like to book to stay with us and book direct, all our prices and availability can be found on our website. We would love it if you checked us out, we’d happily answer any queries you might have and of course we would look forward to welcoming you here to St Oswald’s Farm.