An “overwhelming majority” of Caribbean hotels are reconsidering selling their properties through Booking.com due to a commission policy change.
Hoteliers in the region claim the new structure is aimed at generating additional revenue for the online hotel aggregator “at the expense of consumers, the region’s destinations, hotels and employees”.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association branded the move to levy commission on staff tips as “grossly unfair” with the trade association calling for the immediate discontinuance of the policy after "a strong negative backlash" by members.
The CHTA said a recent survey of its 33 national hotel and tourism federation associations, and hotels revealed a belief the commission policy was “regressive and punitive”.
Frank Comito, CHTA chief executive and director, also claimed the policy would “directly impact” holidaymakers with higher costs associated with additional payments to Booking.com shared by the travelling public as some hotels seek to recoup losses by raising prices.
“In a region where consumer price sensitivity and high operating costs are an ongoing challenge, this presents the industry with an added predicament,” he said.
Comito also cautioned the commissions would be “a short term profit” for Booking.com “which could eventually be a significant long-term loss” for the company as 84% of hotels surveyed are reconsidering using Booking.com as a result of the new policy.
More than 60% of hotels reported the Booking.com commission policy will result in changes in how they assess and/or cover these charges, which survey respondents indicated included: increasing rates; deducting the commission from the tip/gratuity amount paid to employees; no longer accepting bookings from Booking.com; or reconsidering the discounted percentage offered to Booking.com.
Among the actions a number of the region’s hotels considered taking, unless the policy is removed or revised, included applying a surcharge on Booking.com bookings to customer billings to recover the added cost, and using other booking platforms.
Citing trade media reports that certain areas of the world or major brands might be exempted from the Booking.com commission policy, the CHTA said “small and medium-sized hotels, many in our region which are luxury properties, are already disadvantaged because of the marketing and buying power of hotel brands and major destinations”.
In its letter to Booking.com, the CHTA noted that small and medium-sized independent hotels have supported Booking.com from its earliest days, stating that “those who have helped you the most stand to lose even more as this policy impacts their bottom line.”
Appealing to Booking.com to drop its policy, the CHTA added: “Without further consideration and a reversal of your policy we can only advise hotels to reassess their use of your platform and consider placing added emphasis on other booking options.”
A Booking.com spokesperson said: "As an extension of our overarching aim to provide our customers with transparent information about the total price they will need to pay at a property when they make a booking, and to create a level playing field for all of our accommodation partners, we are updating our process when it comes to charging commission only on mandatory extra fees - such as service fee or resort fee charged outside of the rate that customers are asked to pay at the property."