Help arrives for CQ hotels in battle against online booking
LIKE a bolt from the blue, a political policy was announced out of thin air yesterday that could save Capricornia hoteliers like Grant Cassidy hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As the managing director of Cassidy Hospitality Group, whose interests includes Rockhampton's Edge Apartment Hotel and Empire Apartment Hotel, Mr Cassidy had struggled with his arrangement with multinational online booking platforms like Booking.com.
Price parity clauses meant the online travel agent booking sites dictated the price of accommodation and prevented him and other Australian accommodation providers from advertising that travellers could get a better deal by booking directly through them.
This had the effect of channelling bookings through the two major online booking platforms, which had a combined market share of 84 per cent and took up to 30 per cent of the total hotel bill.
According to Mr Cassidy, this situation had grown to become a significant problem over time, and was now costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
"Many in the industry see it as a grossly unfair impost on particularly Mum and Dad owned businesses whereby we are bound by these clauses,” he said.
"What it means is these multi-national online travel agents come down on us with the big stick approach and they've threatened to punish people who sell directly to their customers cheaper than they do.”
Mr Cassidy didn't realise the issue was on the radar of political parties until he was contacted by Capricornia's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson and Queensland Senator Murray Watt who revealed Labor's plan to give hotels a leg up in their battle with multinational platforms.
Mr Robertson said current price parity clauses meant that 30 per cent of the hotel bill was going offshore - to people who don't change the sheets, don't wash the towels and don't mop the floors.
"Price parity clauses would be banned under a Shorten Labor Government, giving local accommodation providers greater control of their own businesses and reducing the price of a weekend away,” Mr Robertson said.
"Since the booking giants take huge commissions that means hotels can charge less while keeping more money in the community.
"This is another example of Federal Labor standing up for Central Queenslanders.”
While Mr Cassidy was yet to raise the issue personally with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, he planned to do so shortly.
He hoped the major political parties would adopt a bi-partisan approach towards tackling the problem.
Ms Landry was contacted for comment.