Why it matters that you book your holidays direct
TOURISM operators on the Coffs Coast are reporting solid holiday bookings with the rare combination of Easter and Anzac Day in the school holidays to boost the injection into the local economy.
Domestically, the number of holidaymakers visiting Coffs Harbour rose to 2,806,301 last year, with 600,000 more people enjoying the coast in 2017/18 compared to Tourism Research Australia's visitation figures from 2010/11.
In the same time, domestic daytrippers rose to 766,580 visitors last year - up by 100,000 people per annum over the past eight years.
Coffs Harbour also attracted 86,300 foreign tourists in the year ending December, 2018, with international visitors injecting $40.2 million into the Coffs economy.
Local industry stakeholder Neil Manson, trustee at The Observatory Holiday Apartments, said the industry was reporting a surge in Easter holiday bookings.
"Both occupancy and revenue records for April are set to be broken this year with the flow on to benefit every business within the region expected to be enormous," Mr Manson said.
In recent times so called 'mum and dad moteliers' and small business operators have reportedly had their profits gouged with large international booking sites, such as Expedia, Trivago and Bookings.com charging high commissions on online room bookings.
Entrepreneur Dick Smith last year exposed the practice campaigning for Aussies to book direct with accommodation providers to stop tax-free tourism dollars flowing offshore.
In a win for the accommodation industry, Mr Manson said there's been some traction with a recent back down by Expedia on 'much hated parity clauses', which he says prevent operators advertising rates cheaper than the online websites.
"With this backdown operators are now free to offer discounts for direct bookings," Mr Manson said.
He said saturation advertising by the companies means many consumers still book through them as 'consumers are duped into believing they are making a saving when in most cases they are actually paying more'.
"One initiative at The Observatory is to ... message "bookdirectsave10%" as our WiFi password," he said.
"Every other way to get this message out there can be ignored, but as almost every guest logs into complimentary WiFi they are forced to remember this message and hopefully start a conversation.
"At The Observatory our tariff feed out to the OTA's is 10% higher than our direct booking rate, with OTA commission at 15%. We then only lose 5%, but the customer pays 10% more," he said.