The owners of a Roscommon campsite have expressed frustration with third-party booking websites taking commission off every reservation, despite customers directly seeking out their business.
Wesley Pollington and Tuesday Whitfield, who run Willowbrook Glamping and Hideaways campsite in Ballaghaderren, have highlighted an issue for independent businesses where third-party travel agents “nudge[…] themselves in as a middle man” in what should have been a straightforward booking process.
They said when a person searches online for their business, Google pushes an eyecatching ‘Book a Room’ button that many might think belongs to Willowbrook, but will, in fact, take the person to a different travel agent website, which will take around 15 per cent commission of any booking.
As they begin to resume taking bookings, the pair wrote on social media that this button is a “massive problem” for them, as well as for other hostels and hotels.
“I want to be clear here that I have no problem paying the 15 per cent commission to a third party site if they are introducing a customer to us. For example, someone who always books their breaks away with Airbnb, and they find us through that website. No issue with that at all, happy to pay the commission as a service is being provided,” they wrote.
“The issue we have is that customers are finding us on google, sometimes having seen us on Facebook, or having been recommended by a friend, and when they search our name, they are directed to a third-party website (who they may never even have heard of before) in order to make a booking,” the post continues.
They said they have spoken with Google in attempts to get the button removed but to no avail. Under the circumstances, they are encouraging customers to book directly with accommodation providers.
Willowbrook Glamping and Hideaways, which opened last year, is currently operating at a loss, with Covid-19 also hitting their business hard, the pair said.