Hotel guests 'are being fleeced by online agents': Hoteliers say they are forced to hike prices to cover 25% commission taken by websites and charge between 15 to 25% commission
Hoteliers also told not to use their own web pages to undercut sites
Booking sites pay huge advertising fees to internet search engines
Experts say the booking websites are rarely competitive

Online travel agents are parasites that rip families off and force prices up, furious hoteliers said yesterday.

The two biggest websites, and, charge a commission of 15 to 25 per cent of what the customer pays – and rake in millions a year.

Hotels say they have to raise room prices to make up for the commission taken from their rates by the websites.

The agents also tell hoteliers not to use their own websites to undercut and – killing off any benefit of shopping around.


Holbeck Ghyll, Windermere.

Four-star hotel with award-winning restaurant.
Book direct: A free bottle of champagne or a cruise on Windermere.

Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa, near Oban, Scotland.

Five-star hotel with golf course and Michelin-starred restaurant.
Book direct: Better chance of room upgrade.

Ellingham House, Colwyn Bay.

Five-star Victorian B&B.
Book direct: Up to 15% off room rates.

Redesdale Arms Hotel, Moreton-in-Marsh.

Award-winning 17th-century hotel in old coaching house.
Book direct: Free prosecco.

Queensberry Hotel, Bath.

Boutique townhouse hotel.
Book direct: 10% discount on dinner, 20% discount on cocktails, and a free gift.

Plas Bodegroes, Pwllheli.

Luxury rooms and Michelin- starred restaurant. Good Food Guide restaurant of the year.
Book direct: 15% off B&B.

(Source: Good Hotel Guide)

But people who contact hotels directly can get discounts of 20 per cent, room upgrades and perks such as a free breakfast, a bottle of champagne or cut-price drinks.

The booking sites pay huge advertising fees to search engines such as Google to ensure their websites appear first in a search when families look for accommodation. As a result, they dominate how rooms are booked, giving them the clout to demand a big cut.

Adam Raphael, editor of The Good Hotel Guide, said: ‘Agencies like are rarely competitive because the hotel has to pay a charge. By contrast, there is no shortage of incentives for booking direct.’

Beppo Buchanan-Smith, of the Isle of Eriska Hotel and Spa in Scotland, said the websites were parasites whose listings appear higher on a web search for the hotel than its own weblink. He added: ‘Clients book through an intermediary for no good reason.’

The websites even list hotels they have no contract with. When a customer searches for availability, they are told there is none and are shown alternative hotels that do have a deal.

Ian Davies, of Ellingham House in north Wales, said one guest paid £950 through a website, of which £220 was commission, adding: ‘The websites have become so big they are responsible for more than half the bookings at many hotels.’

Chef Chris Chown, of Plas Bodegroes in Pwllheli, north-west Wales, said: ‘I am terminating my contract with hideous in disgust. They take over your business.’

Robert Smith, of the Redesdale Arms Hotel at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, said: ‘We paid more than £3,600 in commission in August – most to websites. They have the industry by the throat.’ said: ‘Our accommodation partners choose to work with for considerable benefits in terms of increased occupancy rates and volume of reservations. They are charged a fair, competitive commission for extensive marketing. Our rates are among the lowest and most cost-effective, and have actually gone down in recent years.’ said: ‘We’re good-value, giving exposure across millions of customers and thousands of affiliate partners. We need to reflect the increasing costs of operating.’ 

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