Tourism: the sling of hotels against booking sites

RAS-LE-BOL – Hoteliers are rebelling against comparison platforms. If the latter offer them a certain visibility, the commissions imposed by these sites present a cost that is difficult to bear for a sector already damaged by the health crisis.

A few clicks and a colorful list of competitively priced hotels unfold before your eyes. Booking, Expedia or even Kayak… These comparative platforms have become essential for French people who want to book vacations quickly and without fuss. “The prices are more interesting”, estimates a passerby, interviewed by TF1. Another customer admits that she likes to be guided by the many opinions of Internet users who flood the booking sites. A little further on, it is a young man who sums up the interest of these sites in a few words: “Simplicity and ease”. But if these platforms present a valuable showcase, this visibility comes at a cost that is becoming untenable for hoteliers.

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With each reservation, the giants of the online sector pocket a commission. Consequences: the bill is increasing for hoteliers while the sector is already weakened by the health crisis. If hoteliers have to pay more, sometimes so do customers. Caught in a rush, a couple chose to book a room at the last moment on the site of an offer comparator. But contacting the establishment directly would have been more advantageous. “Here, we have a room which is available at 53 euros on our site. On e-commerce platforms, it is more than 60 euros”, says Mickael Chevrier, co-manager of the hotel Victor-Hugo in Lorient. The specialist mentions a commission of between 15 and 20% – which benefits neither the hotelier nor the client.

The Contact Hotels chain at war with commissions

“When the customer comes to us for the first time, we are happy to have been found through a platform. But we would prefer that the second reservation be made directly on our site”, underlines Mickael Chevrier. Thus, many independent hotels have chosen to shun these giants of the sector and call on their customers to no longer use these comparison sites. If the sling is organized, it is also that the sector must face new expenses because of the health crisis – for example investing to set up the health pass. Several professionals have joined the initiative of the chain “Contact Hotels“in France – a group of 300 hoteliers created 30 years ago. The objective: to create an online platform without any commission so that everyone can enjoy their holidays.

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On its website, the “Contact Hôtels” association maintains that direct reservations “are vital for thousands of independent hoteliers” and avoid commissions that “suffocate a lot of us”. At the microphone of France 3, Thomas Richard, president of “Contact Hôtels”, exposed on August 11, the problem: “We have to pay a commission which ranges from 15 to 25% and which also applies to VAT! On a room at 99 euros, it is the equivalent of 16 euros that we lose.”

Moreover, the system would be all the more perverse as these commissions would be used to classify the rooms on the site. “It’s often the hotels that pay the most commission that get to the top of the list, not the ones that get the highest ratings from customers.”, asserted Thomas Richard. However, the association “Contact Hôtels” specifies that it is not against the commissions but wants them to be “lower”. Indeed, these platforms remain invaluable in particular to have visibility with the foreign customers.

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Tourism: the sling of hotels against booking sites