Sierra de Grazalema andalucia spain

Hotel Booking sites, OTA’s and unhappy hoteliers

So, Last week I read a really interesting article over at Secret Serrania

The owners of an art boutique hotel in the beautiful white village of Gaucin, perched high up in the Serrania de Ronda have called for a boycott of OTAs (Online Travel Agency) including Booking.com, Hotel.com and Expedia saying the COVID-19 crisis ‘has revealed the true nature of OTAs’.

But they’ve had enough of the OTAs and are now calling on their guests to book direct with them.

Read the full article on Secret Serrania here.

It would seem that there are some very unhappy hoteliers out there (and in some cases for good reason I suppose) but I think that we could look at this from a different perspective. The perspective of someone like me who runs this, the Grazalema Guide and other websites focusing on tourism in Western Andalucia…

Lets face it, I am not the only “niche” website in the world (as the link to Secret Serrania shows.) There are many small and very focused websites covering all sorts of subjects. But, and this is a big but. Although I would consider myself to be an expert in my field its almost impossible to get relevent local businesses to be confident in my product.

What’s my product you may ask?

Well I have spent years and years studying my subject. Thousands of people each month read my thousands of articles and I receive over 200 emails a month asking me for further help or thanking me for the help I have given them. My various websites have around 200,000 people visiting them each month… Surely this means something to businesses such as hotels in the area? well, apparently no!

I can give a perfect example. Over the years, I have approached literally thousands of businesses asking them to support my websites by taking out an advertising campaign.

In the past, for as low as 25 euros a year a hotel could have had main coverage and promotion from any of my sites. I can see my stats. I know how many customers I push their way and the statistics speak for themselves.

So, one day, the owner of a hotel in the Ronda area asked me. “that 25 euros a year is for what exactly?” My response was an estimated 5 double rooms booked each year…. “Hahahahaha” they said.

Maybe next year.

This went on for more than a couple of years and to be quite honest I became rather upset and annoyed that the people in the hotel industry were spending thousands yearly on “OTA’s” and couldn’t spare 25 euros for me? (After all, if I could get even 500 business across my sites I would have a reasonable income from them as a whole.) They would be helping a local business to promote their local business… Win win no?

So, one day I simply gave up trying to “tout” my business. No more phone calls or visits or emails. I just switched every link to every hotel across all of my websites to the booking.com links for that particual hotel… Easy! (though it took many weeks to rewrite, and edit and republish many of my articles)

And what of that original business in the Ronda area that thought 25 euros was too expensive? Well, last year they paid me 1200 euros in commissions (via booking.com.) Money that they need not have spent because I would have been very happy with the 25 Euros…

In a a way the hotel industry is now sowing what it reaped. You all put your faith in these OTA’s and the greed that comes along with them. You all became obsessed with tripadvisor and facebook and twitter and booking and hotels and venere and rough travel and all the rest of the guys that spend YOUR money keeping YOUR website OFF the top of Google search.

The fact is, that whether anybody likes it or not, My tourist websites and thousands of others like mine are funded by click ads from Google and affiliate links to OTA’s. Your customers don’t see your website. They see mine because it is packed with well researched and well written content that PROMOTES your local business.

You would have been better to have spent your valuable time writing better content for your websites and talking to local people, employing local guides and and advertising on locally focused businesses.

The key to the future of tourism is cooperation, trust and sharing…. look at Wildside Holidays to see what I mean by sharing… It is a dedicated website promoting walking and wildlife holidays in Grazalema… Or is it? I`ll let you decide.

Wildside Holidays

Grazalema Guide

Caminito del Rey

Ronda Today

Comments are always welcome either here or on the post at facebook.

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