Booking direct

RACV RoyalAuto Magazine

Value goes offline

Online accommodation sites are easy to use but you can get better value by directly booking your place to stay.

The convenience of booking travel accommodation online can obscure the reality that this third-party booking system adds an extra loop into the process and could, ultimately, have a significant financial impact on the operators of Australian hotels, motels, B&Bs, caravan parks and other types of accommodation.

The increasing consolidation of online travel agencies or OTAs, and their massive advertising spends, makes it appear that comparing and booking places to stay via the brand-name online services is the only way to go.

But in Australia there is a better, more trustworthy route, to identifying the properties where you will have the quality of accommodation and standard of experience you seek.

Go direct to the proprietors themselves. And more, trust the information that you can read about them in the “stars”.

In dealing directly you get personalised attention, extra information and potentially, some add-ons or upgrades that will enhance your visit. It’s better for the operators because they won’t have to pay a commission to a foreign-owned OTA such as Expedia or Priceline that can sting them between 12 and 15%.

This is the message from Star Ratings Australia, the agency run by Australia’s motoring organisations, including the RACV.

For the past 52 years, Star Ratings Australia has been inspecting and benchmarking the quality of guest facilities to help Australian travellers choose with confidence.

A Star Rating can help you determine the value of a room rate because someone who is independently qualified has physically reviewed the quality standards of that property.

Operators such as Michael and Lesley Ragg who run the four and a half star Arcadia Cottages B&B at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges agree.

“We enjoy dealing directly with guests,” says Michael.

“Having been in direct, personal contact, even before our guests get here”, Lesley says, “we are in a better position to welcome them.”

Damien Hanger, the general manager of Star Ratings Australia says “we especially want to encourage RACV members to use the independent Star Ratings as a gateway to their decision making about travel accommodation.

“Use the independently-rated star guide to properties in Australia (starratings.com.au/search/racv) to access and shortlist where you want to go. The star ratings system is not a booking engine, it is a search engine.

“Then, if you go directly to the properties they won’t be losing up to 15% in commissions and they’re more likely to reward direct bookings with value-adds such as better room types, maybe better views and all the intangible elements that make up a great guest experience.”

MORE racv.com.au/travel. RACV members get a 25% discount at RACV resorts. Book directly with the resort of your choice or at racv.com.au/resorts.

Written by Jenny Brown, Photos Meredith O'Shea
June 01, 2015