Sawday’s report shows impact of OTAs on independent travel businesses

George Sell By George Sell
1 week ago | Updated 1 week ago

UK: Travel guide publisher Sawday’s has released a report report examining the impact of the major OTAs giants on small, independent travel businesses.

The report, published this week, reveals that "despite recognising the important role OTAs play in securing bookings, many owners feel increasingly squeezed and exploited, some to the point of quitting".

Bringing together the findings of Sawday's own research into owners' relationships with booking partners and external research conducted by vacation rental platform Rentivo and the Bed & Breakfast Association, the 14-page report examines OTA usage by UK accommodation providers, the biggest challenges faced by owners, where OTAs do deliver and where they get it wrong and how to create a more sustainable future for the industry.

Key findings of the report:
• OTAs are widely used by UK accommodation providers - more than 80 per cent of UK self-catering owners use at least one of the major OTAs
• OTAs are seen as being an important source of future bookings by over two thirds of self-catering owners
• Owners' biggest challenges are around marketing their property, an area that OTAs are delivering on
• Owners feel that OTAs are taking away control, only a small percentage (six per cent) want OTAs to manage the entire guest booking on their behalf
• Owners feel exploited by guest-focussed OTAs who charge high fees and impose unfair contracts
•  With current OTA models, owners often find it hard to differentiate, to and stand out within the mass of places and to reach the right guests

The report identifies six key areas that Sawday's believes need to be addressed to help create a sustainable future for independent travel businesses.
• Allowing owners more control over bookings
• Quality control and accurate representation
• Restoring guest interaction
• Treating owners as individuals, not a commodity
• Establishing fairer payment terms
• Lowering costs, considering the profitability of businesses and the need to reinvest

Mike Bevens, managing director of Sawday's said: "If we want to allow independent travel businesses to thrive and to create a sustainable future, the challenge to the industry is to readdress the balance, giving owners back some ownership of the booking process and experience, whilst allowing them to reach the audiences they need and want, at a price that's fair and on a level playing field."

Taking learnings from the report, Sawday's will be trailing a commission-based booking model, which is describes as "a simple ethical and transparent service that works for both owners and guests".

Click here to read the report in full.

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