Dick Smith is encouraging travellers to book direct and avoid OTA websites for their accommodation.
Dick Smith is encouraging travellers to book their accommodation direct with hotels and motels.

Prominent Australian business advocate Dick Smith has launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging travellers to book accommodation direct with properties instead of using one of the major online travel agencies (OTAs)

Simply titled ‘Book Direct’, Smith kicked off the campaign this week in a keynote speech at the Budget Motel Chain Conference in Glenelg, South Australia.

Central to the campaign is a push to educate travellers about the size and scale of online travel booking giants and the commissions paid by hotel and motel owners to these companies for reservation and marketing services. Smith says he is aiming to foster a closer relationship between hotels and travellers by cutting out the OTA as a third party.

“When you trace back the ownership of individual OTAs, they all stem back to just two overseas owners delivering no additional service to the Australian public while scooping up to 20% commission from Mum and Dad motel owners.

“This profit once remained with the motel owner and was put back into the local community. Now it goes offshore.”

AAoA CEO Richard Munro will address a Senate enquiry soon on the impact of OTAs on local hoteliers.

In his speech, Smith empowered hotel and motel owners to fight for their rights to be competitive by offering deals directly to consumers in an effort to keep regional and rural properties viable and improving profit margins.

“Motels are now dependent on OTAs for bookings that use to come directly to them. OTAs leverage this to extort increasing commissions.”

Absent from Smith’s speech however was any mention of the marketing budgets of the online travel agencies promoting properties based on travellers searching online.

Accommodation Association of Australia CEO Richard Munro, also speaking at the conference, reminded delegates the ACCC was reviewing regulations concerning online travel websites.

“Regulations governing OTAs are currently being reviewed by the ACCC,” said Richard. “It is imperative for moteliers to contact the ACCC directly with their experiences of unfair trading due to the dominance and pricing controls of OTAs.”

Munro invited Dick Smith to join him in addressing an upcoming Senate enquiry into the impact of online travel agencies as part of a push for a fairer playing field for accommodation operators.