Online booking's hidden sting

Summary:No matter how convenient travel websites seem, they are moving money offshore, even if domestic travellers stay in the country.

No matter how convenient travel websites seem, they are moving money offshore, even if domestic travellers stay in the country.

The Motel Owners Association of New Zealand (MANZ) raised the issue, accusing overseas booking engines of bleeding the local industry dry.

The association says that domestic booking providers were losing out when an overseas booking site was used, and the commission they would normally receive does not stay in the New Zealand economy, to be reinvested in the industry. With commissions running at 10 per cent, that becomes quite a tidy sum that disappears off our shores.

On top of that, because the overseas booking providers aren't paying the goods and services tax, the providers can't claim GST back on the commission.

Surveys show that online travel and booking accommodation is one of the most popular uses of e-commerce, a trend that's set to grow further.

I suspect that the government is too busy to work with the industry, to halt this leakage of tourism cash overseas. But perhaps we can take the points that MANZ has made into consideration for when we book our next holiday.

I know that sometimes you can strike good a deal on the rates quoted for accommodation online, but that's because accommodation providers have commission to pay.

A couple of times, motel-keepers have reminded me of this fact, especially if they were owner-operators.

Instead of shopping around for the best deal without thinking of which country keeps the commission, it could be worth checking who owns the booking site.

Thus, instead of using Australian-based Wotif, where possible, I will use the Kiwis MANZ supports, such as Jasons, BookIT and the AA.

Of course, this is a game everyone can play. So Australians might be forgiven for sticking with Wotif!

Topics: E-Commerce, After Hours


Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

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