Historically, if you wanted a place to stay overnight while you were on vacation, visiting your kids at college, or even a quick business trip to Chicago, you needed to somehow get in contact with the hotel or bed and breakfast at your destination. You may also have contacted a travel agent to lend a hand, depending on what that destination had to offer. These days, the world is at your fingertips, literally! With the aid of your home’s wifi network, you can research an almost unlimited number of lodging options with the push of a button, or a click of the mouse.
The advent of “Online Travel Agencies” or “OTAs”, occurred with the intent to make it easier for consumers to research their options, and to locate the available accommodations wherever they planned to visit. Unfortunately, this system quickly devolved into a purely price-driven research tool. There is no argument that these OTAs, have made it quite easy to research a place to stay in almost any destination, and their system is set up to offer discounted rates to further entice you to make a reservation before the price changes.
For the consumer, it sounds like a great way to find a place to stay. In all honesty, if you are looking for a branded product, (name brand hotel chain), it’s fairly reliable when comparing the rooms at this chain to those at some other similar chain. However, if you want to compare a hotel chain to a bed and breakfast, or to a vacation rental, this system may not reflect an accurate comparison of the overall value or experience one might receive. While these OTAs can effectively represent hotel chains with thousands of homogeneous room types, when you start researching more boutique offerings, it’s like comparing apples and oranges, or maybe even apples and carrots.
What makes Bed and Breakfasts and Boutique Inns so special is their individuality and wide-ranging room types, amenities, and unique characteristics, which is exactly why they defy any reliable comparison to the standard hotel room. This being said, there is a growing number of these accommodations that are getting onboard with the OTAs in order to get more exposure. Depending on their location and the general interest in that destination, this method of marketing can have decent results. There is, however, a significant cost associated with marketing through the OTAs, and with a significantly fewer rooms than their “hotel” counterparts, smaller lodging businesses cannot sustain the deep discounts combined with the OTA commissions necessary to participate in that system.
In order to compete with all of these factors, the Bed and Breakfast and Boutique Inn community have learned how to circumnavigate the system with a very simple philosophy that goes back to their roots. Encourage your guests to book direct! Whether you find your chosen accommodation through word-of-mouth, an online directory, a customer review platform, or even an OTA, contact the establishment directly to reserve your room. By booking direct, you will be able to learn more about the property you are considering, the options available to you, and get answers to any of the questions that you may have about the establishment, the area, or even the best place to eat. In many cases, by contacting the accommodation directly, they can offer the same discounted price that you may have seen online.
Here at the Black Sheep Inn and Spa, we always encourage potential guests to get in touch with us so that we can help them understand the Finger Lakes region, and how close the lakes are to each other. Over the years, we have been able to save guests valuable time while they’re here by extending their stay at one central location as opposed to moving every other day to another accommodation only 20-30 minutes away from the Inn and requiring them to pack and unpack several times during their trip. We also have years of feedback from past guests that allows us to offer reliable recommendations for almost anything you want to do or see during your stay in the Finger Lakes.
From our perspective, the best part of guests’ booking direct, is our ability to get to talk with you a little bit, and help you plan the most memorable trip possible.
Call us to talk about your next trip to the Finger Lakes.
See you soon!