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Booking through the "big" guys

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Red Handed Jill

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By the "big" guys, I mean Expedia, Travelocity, etc.
We're very seriously considering participating in Bed and Breakfast. com's online booking program. There's just one thing holding us back right now - and that's the fact that these are are confirmed bookings, not reservations. We've been using Webervations, so we have a comfort level in seeing that "decline" button. Through BnB's program, you do not have the option to decline a guest. Our main concern is DNBA type guests, but I did have a convince-me-to-come-but-I-don't-think-I-really-wanna-conversation with a gentleman on the phone last week where I just ended up cheerfully explaining he'd probably prefer a different area/region.
We are a bit divided in our position here in management (that would be DH & me). He's reluctant and leaning toward saying no. I'm reluctant, but willing to give it a try. I think he would give it a try because I'm willing, but I'd feel a lot better if he had more buy in.
I was wondering if you all would be willing to share your thoughts about getting guests through big booking engines like this.
 

Morticia

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I don't use this system so take what I say with a grain of salt...as long as your listing is VERY clear on what you offer (ie- you are not a 24 hour full service hotel with bar & pool) go for it. Find out first what is involved in backing out, tho. If you leave the program does your listing remain with a big notice that says, 'Nothing available at this property'? You don't want that.
 

JBloggs

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You must also abide but their cancellation policies and you will not have access to the guests credit card.
There are a few on this forum who use this system effectively. The only real issue I have is that if you use them they will show no availability - if you only allow one or two rooms say midweek or off peak onto this system, so a potential guests sees no rooms avail when you may have them wide open.
Also note the liability insurance requirements, you need to add those businesses to your policy.
 

Joey Camb

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I used to work in a large hotel and I hate Expedia simply because they have rung me to say do you have avaliability for a certain date and you turn around and there is a fax from them booking a room with you! and that happened on more than one occasion. Plus we had guests turn up that we had never had any paperwork for. They also did a watchdog special this is like an expose show in this country on how they operate which confirmed my opinion. Now this was a few years ago and they may have improved but I do know they skin you for commission up to 40% and if you don't give them a high commission level (you can choose) then you go lower down on the rankings so do your homework carefully as well as ask other people who they use and how they get on with them. The important thing is that you have to keep on top of updating all your systems all the time not to end up double booked. We use Laterooms.com (more UK based) and Booking.com and are really pleased with the results.
 

YellowSocks

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Thanks for the question... I've been wondering the same thing.
...leaning away from doing it for a variety of reasons...
=)
Kk.
 

Scott

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You must also abide but their cancellation policies and you will not have access to the guests credit card.
There are a few on this forum who use this system effectively. The only real issue I have is that if you use them they will show no availability - if you only allow one or two rooms say midweek or off peak onto this system, so a potential guests sees no rooms avail when you may have them wide open.
Also note the liability insurance requirements, you need to add those businesses to your policy..
Joey Bloggs said:
You must also abide but their cancellation policies and you will not have access to the guests credit card.
There are a few on this forum who use this system effectively. The only real issue I have is that if you use them they will show no availability - if you only allow one or two rooms say midweek or off peak onto this system, so a potential guests sees no rooms avail when you may have them wide open.
Also note the liability insurance requirements, you need to add those businesses to your policy.
Actually the insurance issue was addressed when BB.com first began this partnership with Expedia, et.al, several years ago, and it is not required.
That said, we do use it, but only put up some rooms based on when we want to increase visibility (and are willing to take a 30% hit to get bookings - off-season weekends, high season last-minute availability). You can get the 30% hit down to 25% by agreeing that you will always have a certain minimum number of your rooms available (if memory serves, 51%) - that is at all times. It is correct that you show no availability when the rooms you post there are booked. It is also true that you get very, very little info on the guest - including contact info and payment info.
We have mixed feelings about it - there have been relatively few bookings - which may be an indication that B&B guests aren't looking on Expedia or its partners for B&B's, or may be a reflection of the few rooms we make available there, or some other factors or combination of factors. Since the bookings have been few, the financial loss (that's how we see it) of 30% hasn't been a big factor. Similarly, if we did a huge number of bookings through them, perhaps we wouldn't mind the 30% commission. In between, with some frequency of this type of bookings, I would think the cost would be prohibitive, as the guests take rooms you could rent for full price.
 

Scott

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I used to work in a large hotel and I hate Expedia simply because they have rung me to say do you have avaliability for a certain date and you turn around and there is a fax from them booking a room with you! and that happened on more than one occasion. Plus we had guests turn up that we had never had any paperwork for. They also did a watchdog special this is like an expose show in this country on how they operate which confirmed my opinion. Now this was a few years ago and they may have improved but I do know they skin you for commission up to 40% and if you don't give them a high commission level (you can choose) then you go lower down on the rankings so do your homework carefully as well as ask other people who they use and how they get on with them. The important thing is that you have to keep on top of updating all your systems all the time not to end up double booked. We use Laterooms.com (more UK based) and Booking.com and are really pleased with the results..
We don't take fax reservations from them, so that is not a problem. When we first started, they were so bad at updating availability that we were 100% full and a guest showed up that evening (after all rooms had checked-in) with an Expedia confirmation in his hand (and it was their honeymoon, too!). We never received notice from Expedia of the booking, so had to scramble to come up with something that would work.
BB.com said that was a communication glitch that has since been fixed. We haven't had that happen again.
If your connection to Expedia (and its partners) is through BB.com, you don't have to worry about the other systems to avoid double booking - you just have to worry that they are so slow in updating their availability. However, I've heard the same thing about other properties using a GDS provider or working with Expedia directly, who have had updating problems.
 

Breakfast Diva

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I was in the program for about a year. I backed out of it when I got several reservations from previous guests that had used the "book it" button on bb.com. These were guests that were going to book here, did a search for my b&b, clicked on the bb.com listing and used the "book it" button on my bb.com listing which then goes through their booking engine and costs me the big commission. They were also multiple night reservations which was a lot of money to lose.
I don't know if their policies have changed since I was in the program, but you do create your own policies. They encourage you to be lenient to encourage more bookings though.
I think if I were in a larger city, the program might be worth it because the volume would be greater, but in my rural location it didn't work for me.
 

The Farmers Daughter

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I am having a problem with Bed and breakfast dot com at this very moment.
They did not link our webervations availability with their online availability and they booked a room at my place that had not been available for over a month.
Plus they are not there on the weekends so GOOD LUCK GETTING SOMEONE ON THE PHONE TO HELP YOU WHEN YOU NEED IT!
 

Red Handed Jill

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Thanks, all. This is exactly the kind of "been there" and "think about this" feedback I was looking for. DH & I have started combing through the contract with these things in mind.
 

Copperhead

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Hey Red!
I have been in this system for about 8 months now and have only had 3 reservations though them; 1st was a no show (about a mth ago), 2nd was fine except they did not receive a confirmation from Expedia and called me; I had not received an email at that time but it did appear in webervations. It was hours before the email came through to me. This one was strange as she never received a confirmation of the reservation or her invoice. The 3d is to arrive this week. Another interesting note, that I will forward to John @ B&B, is that the no show reservation info only included contact # for the travel agent, the 2nd one had NO contact info, and the 3rd one does have a contact # for the guest. - I do not see a reason for the inconsistancy.
I do not know just how long after signing up did it take to get on the system but no reservations were made until a month or so ago! Does season have to do with it or what?
You are NOT bound by "their cancellation policies" - you are able to plug in your own through B&B.com and they are honored by Expedia etc. IF you go to Expedia on your own, you may have to follow their polices though.
We were previously with another service and had some hotel type guests, not that they were terrible at all, just that they thought we would have a 24hr desk so check in is anytime - even if it is noted or they bring a baby. It seems no one reads until their seems to be a problem - then it is why didn't you tell us! Duh! The couple that booked and brought a baby said they stated it in a notes section on the booking - that was not in my records, seems the company keeps that notes section as private along with the contact info.
I use this for week day business and block it for busier periods (hope for more of these).
All 3 of these reservations were made though Expedia, none through B&B.com as Breakfast Diva has, but I am keeping tabs on this as it could become an issue.
 

egoodell

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I don't use this system so take what I say with a grain of salt...as long as your listing is VERY clear on what you offer (ie- you are not a 24 hour full service hotel with bar & pool) go for it. Find out first what is involved in backing out, tho. If you leave the program does your listing remain with a big notice that says, 'Nothing available at this property'? You don't want that..
I am not so concerned with the bookings that show up that you don't know about when everything is booked for 50 miles away. I am concerned with the complaints that when you LEAVE them, they leave your property listed as "nothing available" which leads people to think you have no rooms when you do. You are simply "nothing available" per their website.
RIki
 

Copperhead

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I don't use this system so take what I say with a grain of salt...as long as your listing is VERY clear on what you offer (ie- you are not a 24 hour full service hotel with bar & pool) go for it. Find out first what is involved in backing out, tho. If you leave the program does your listing remain with a big notice that says, 'Nothing available at this property'? You don't want that..
I am not so concerned with the bookings that show up that you don't know about when everything is booked for 50 miles away. I am concerned with the complaints that when you LEAVE them, they leave your property listed as "nothing available" which leads people to think you have no rooms when you do. You are simply "nothing available" per their website.
RIki
.
Hi Riki,
I had this problem a while back when Lainer had the agreement with Expedia, etc. When they lost the contract (guessing) our listing stayed up on Expedia just as you stated. I tried for ever to get that removed. Lainer did not help and I never could get a direct response from Expedia etc.
When I joined B&B.com, I talked to the online booking department just to hear their spiel as at the time I was not joining up with that, anyway I told them my problem and a very prompt - 'I'll help you with that', within 2 days my listing disappeared from Expedia etc. and I got a call from that helpful B&B.com emp. telling me the same.
So my advise to anyone having this experience, call B&B.com (if you are a member) they may be able to work the magic for you too.
 

Bigbid

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I was in the program for about a year. I backed out of it when I got several reservations from previous guests that had used the "book it" button on bb.com. These were guests that were going to book here, did a search for my b&b, clicked on the bb.com listing and used the "book it" button on my bb.com listing which then goes through their booking engine and costs me the big commission. They were also multiple night reservations which was a lot of money to lose.
I don't know if their policies have changed since I was in the program, but you do create your own policies. They encourage you to be lenient to encourage more bookings though.
I think if I were in a larger city, the program might be worth it because the volume would be greater, but in my rural location it didn't work for me..
I had the same problem with B&B.com. If someone clicks the check availability button that I pay extra for, they go straight to my web site booking engine and it costs me nothing. If they click the big green “Book it” button, I am charged the 30% even though they found me on B&B.com that I AM PAYING TO BE ON. I got off of the expedia system so now the green button is gone and guests go straight to my site.
 

egoodell

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I don't use this system so take what I say with a grain of salt...as long as your listing is VERY clear on what you offer (ie- you are not a 24 hour full service hotel with bar & pool) go for it. Find out first what is involved in backing out, tho. If you leave the program does your listing remain with a big notice that says, 'Nothing available at this property'? You don't want that..
I am not so concerned with the bookings that show up that you don't know about when everything is booked for 50 miles away. I am concerned with the complaints that when you LEAVE them, they leave your property listed as "nothing available" which leads people to think you have no rooms when you do. You are simply "nothing available" per their website.
RIki
.
Hi Riki,
I had this problem a while back when Lainer had the agreement with Expedia, etc. When they lost the contract (guessing) our listing stayed up on Expedia just as you stated. I tried for ever to get that removed. Lainer did not help and I never could get a direct response from Expedia etc.
When I joined B&B.com, I talked to the online booking department just to hear their spiel as at the time I was not joining up with that, anyway I told them my problem and a very prompt - 'I'll help you with that', within 2 days my listing disappeared from Expedia etc. and I got a call from that helpful B&B.com emp. telling me the same.
So my advise to anyone having this experience, call B&B.com (if you are a member) they may be able to work the magic for you too.
.
copperhead said:
Hi Riki,
I had this problem a while back when Lainer had the agreement with Expedia, etc. When they lost the contract (guessing) our listing stayed up on Expedia just as you stated. I tried for ever to get that removed. Lainer did not help and I never could get a direct response from Expedia etc.
When I joined B&B.com, I talked to the online booking department just to hear their spiel as at the time I was not joining up with that, anyway I told them my problem and a very prompt - 'I'll help you with that', within 2 days my listing disappeared from Expedia etc. and I got a call from that helpful B&B.com emp. telling me the same.
So my advise to anyone having this experience, call B&B.com (if you are a member) they may be able to work the magic for you too.
That is good to hear. Now, what about the guests that show up at your doorstep during a high event when there is no rooms for miles around - that you had no information about? Someone I know had that happen and they could not contact anyone to help. The guests gave them an awful writeup on TripAdvisor.
And do they still refuse to give any contact information so you can't contact them and confirm they are 1. only a party of 2 - no children, and 2. Be able to find out when they plan to arrive?
RIki
 

Copperhead

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I was in the program for about a year. I backed out of it when I got several reservations from previous guests that had used the "book it" button on bb.com. These were guests that were going to book here, did a search for my b&b, clicked on the bb.com listing and used the "book it" button on my bb.com listing which then goes through their booking engine and costs me the big commission. They were also multiple night reservations which was a lot of money to lose.
I don't know if their policies have changed since I was in the program, but you do create your own policies. They encourage you to be lenient to encourage more bookings though.
I think if I were in a larger city, the program might be worth it because the volume would be greater, but in my rural location it didn't work for me..
I had the same problem with B&B.com. If someone clicks the check availability button that I pay extra for, they go straight to my web site booking engine and it costs me nothing. If they click the big green “Book it” button, I am charged the 30% even though they found me on B&B.com that I AM PAYING TO BE ON. I got off of the expedia system so now the green button is gone and guests go straight to my site.
.
Bigbid said:
I had the same problem with B&B.com. If someone clicks the check availability button that I pay extra for, they go straight to my web site booking engine and it costs me nothing. If they click the big green “Book it” button, I am charged the 30% even though they found me on B&B.com that I AM PAYING TO BE ON. I got off of the expedia system so now the green button is gone and guests go straight to my site.
I agree with you on this one (even though currently I am still on the Expedia system). This was where Eric became greedy IMO. If someone books thru Expedia, I expect*(see disclaimer below) that Expedia gets most of that 30% with B&B getting some sort of 'finders fee' BUT if they use B&B's website book it feature, they get the 30% using your own paid listing to get the additional $$.
*Disclaimer NOTE: I am assuming here, do not know any details on this issue - again my assumption!!
To date, all my reservations through this system, now 5 in all (more came in last night) are all through Expedia. I have not had any directly through B&B's website although I have had several bookings that came by way of B&B but they went to my website or used the check availability, then booked directly. I am wondering (thinking out loud here) if having a more basic site on B&B is better in this case? If you design your basic listing just enticing enough to make them click to your website, then book.... - Just thinking of ways to work the system here. Of course, it would be better if the new owner decided it was over the top to take this additional 30% but in reality, I know that won't happen!
 

Markie

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We used to be on the Bedandbreakfast.com program with Expedia and it was a nightmare. Honeymooners showed up late with reservation in hand which we had no prior knowledge of. Since we couldn't reach anyone, we found them a place to stay with a neighbor who has an extra cottage for rent. I'm sure they thought we made an error. When we finally reached Bedandbreakfast.com they said the guests "must have slipped between the cracks."
If we didn't pay the 30% right away we got a fax in the middle of the night about it.
Guests showed up anytime day or night as they didn't get our regular confirmation letter. They had a hard time finding us as the Google and GPS systems in our area send people down a road that is a riverbed and they didn't get our directions.
We would NEVER do this again!
 

Joey Camb

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I would mention that with booking.com if you have their booking button on your web site as book now you only pay 3% for those bookings which I think is worth paying to have one less thing to update. Depends how popular this company is in the USA whether it is of use to you but it is popular in Europe and the EU so may be worth thinking about if you want more of that trade. Also Laterooms and booking.com update instantly which is better/
 
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