You must have an interest in bed and breakfast inns, given that you made it this far! Since you’re here, we’d like to help you make the most of your entire B&B experience by helping you understand a few things about booking your stay at one.
Virtually all legitimate bed and breakfasts have their own websites on which you can reserve your room. Of course, you can almost always do it with a phone call, but let’s talk about online booking.
Members of the Seattle Bed & Breakfast Association get several calls a year that start with “I love the look of your place, but your website doesn’t show prices,” or some other question that actually is answered on our websites. While we are happy to clear up any confusion at that point, the fact is that these callers are not usually looking at an inn’s website when they think they are. Typically, they are looking only at a listing on a “consolidator” website. Examples of such consolidator types are TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, and the like.
Most of these online travel agencies, or OTAs, work very hard to keep you on their site rather than sending you to ours, so it’s no wonder that guests don’t really know who “owns” the listing they are looking at. They – and you – just want to book your trip as efficiently as possible.
But here are some facts that you may not realize happens when you book from one of those sites:
- Some percentage (often 15-20%) of your room rate goes to the middleman OTA and not to the inn.
- That commission is a huge hit for an independent small business to take, especially because signing on with these sites usually involves a “parity clause” that prohibits the business from offering lower prices on its own website.
- OTAs have enough money that they can run their own sales, offering whatever price they want, even if it’s lower than the inn’s actual price.
- At least one OTA site also charges the traveler a fee as well.
Now of course you want to save money. But money isn’t the only difference. Booking directly with your desired B&B gets you:
- More personalized service;
- Inside information about other ways to save time, effort, and yes, money;
- And access to resources that are not available on the consolidator sites.
Take the time to make sure you are on the inn’s website and not the consolidators before you hit that “book” button. You will benefit, and the independent inn will be able to use the commission they would otherwise pay the middleman to invest in continued excellent guest experiences.
Note: The Seattle Bed & Breakfast Association’s website is not a consolidator site. When you click on an inn listing or “book it” button here, you are taken directly to that member inn’s website, allowing you to book directly with them, commission-free.