Trip Advisor strikes again

DoorsAre you feeling the pinch as Trip Advisor morphs into a booking engine and demands more and more of your hard-earned profits?

Are you starting to wonder whether it was a good idea to sign up with those OTAs as Trip Advisor and its partners start to demand more and more of your cash?

The problem is not really about how much commissions you have to pay, though, it’s much deeper than that.

First here’s a question: Do you remember the days when there was no internet and no-one had a website?

Guests would find us by word of mouth, from person to person, or via local tourist offices or even through a local network of other B&B owners.  We never knew who would be coming, if indeed anyone at all showed up from one minute to the next.  We’d sit by the phone hoping someone would call, and take a chance on whether we would be happy to have them stay in our homes.  With luck, we would generally welcome lovely people and they’d leave glowing comments in our guest book for future guests to see.

Ah, life was so simple then.  No-one had ever heard of “marketing” let alone how to do it. We were broke but we were happy!!

And then along came the internet and everything changed.  We now need a website because “everyone’s online” and instead of the guest book, we ask guests to post on Trip Advisor for potential guests to see.  For me, almost all my guests have checked me out on Trip Advisor before making a booking, so great reviews are hugely important, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Instead of relying on word of mouth, local tourist offices or our local networks, we can now rely on online travel agents to bring us guests.  So in effect, nothing’s changed, except it’s all online

But here’s where it gets interesting…..

The online travel agencies and Trip Advisor have joined forces and why not?  They have the same customers and it makes sense from a business perspective.  After all they’re doing a great job for us, and that’s my point….. they’re doing OUR job, and if we’re relying on them to bring us guests, then we’re in a dangerous and disadvantaged place.  They hold all the cards.  One glitch, or hiccup on their part sends us into a tailspin.

Because the truth is, they really don’t care about us.  They care about their business and building it, and by allowing them to fill our beds for us, we become one of their “suppliers of beds” rather than a B&B business, and we inadvertently end up building their business instead of our own, and pay them a commission for it!

The cold hard truth is, when we operate like that, we don’t really have a business at all.  No systems, no lead generation, no follow up, no database = no business.

But we do have a choice….. we can take control of our own B&B businesses, learn how to do the essential marketing, build a profitable business and own it.  When we do that, we are no longer at the mercy of the giants.  We use them for the services they provide, but we don’t dance to their tunes any more.

Which side of the fence do you want to be on?

10 Responses to “Trip Advisor strikes again”

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  1. Eileen Brosnan says:

    Yes , Less commission to pay would be great , but how?

    • Hi Eileen and thanks for commenting 😉 That’s one of the things I’m going to be revealing soon. So stay tuned. I appreciate your feedback 🙂 Yvonne

  2. lekha kathrecha says:

    Dear Yvonne
    less commissions or no commissions would be great, sometimes there is no choice if you need customers, although luckily people do find me from word of mouth as well! It seems the b and b owners do the hard work and they take the cut so easily!

    • HI Lekha and thanks for your comment 😉 The difference between running a B&B as a hobby and as a Professional is what give you the power of choice. To choose your guests, how they find you and what they tell their friends and Trip Advisor all comes down to how you want to run your B&B. Thanks again for your feedback. Lovely to see you here 😉

  3. Sharon Agates says:

    Great blog Yvonne – challenging those giants isn’t easy, you can do it!

  4. Kathy Randeree says:

    I would also be so interested in findng the answer. I am also interested in what other streams of revenue you could add to a B & B. We are directly across from a hospital, I am thinking of a sandwich delivery business. What do you think?


    • Hi Kathy and thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this post 😉 The place to start is to decide what you want your business to look like for you. What kind of guests do you enjoy serving, what do you like to talk about and to share, what would be a win/win for you and your guests. This starts with defining who you want to serve, rather than seeing what’s around and fitting in to suit them. Then we can develop products and services to delight the guests we want. Hope that makes sense. Thanks again for your feedback 🙂

  5. Peter and Suzanne Keynes says:

    Hi Yvonne,
    I have been following your free 8 part course (I’m up to part 7) and really enjoying it and finding many useful tips. Our business ( has been very successful over the 4 years since start-up in a very large 1100m2 ex-private residence on 9 acres (3.6Ha) near Busselton in the Margaret River wine region of Western Australia. We have shown compound growth of over 25% p.a through these years, and now exceed our region’s average occupancy of around 50% by at least 20%. From the beginning we put in place a “proper” hotel website, reservation system and FOH software, and channel our rates to many of the big Alligators (booking site aggregators). Re this blog thread, the important key figure to watch out for is the TOTAL commission as a percent of T/O. In spite of paying 15% +CC in some cases (we won’t pay more that that) our total commission to all exterior sources is only around 3 – 4% so it is worth doing, and generates significant business for us. Kind regards and many thanks for your excellent advice, etc, so far.

    • Hi Peter and Suzanne, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the free e-course. Let me know how I can assist you going forwwards. Thanks for commenting 🙂 Yvonne