Tourists are getting a rough deal from Internet booking sites according to Eastbourne hotelier Darren Weir.
The Mowbray guest house owner is frustrated at having to pay commission to booking agents such as booking.com, that can be up to 24 per cent of the room rate.
And he insists that hotels can offer better rates when rooms are booked direct.
“I can do a cheaper rooms when you book direct and I will,” he said.
“I’d much rather rooms were booked directly as I don’t have to pay any commission that way.
“If someone called me and said, ‘I’ve seen a room for x amount on a booking site, can you do it any cheaper?’, I would say ‘yes’.
“It’s not unusual for commission to be anywhere between 15 and 24 per cent.
“Many of the companies are based oversees as well and don’t even pay into UK taxes.
“There is an argument to say that a lot of money is being sucked out of UK tourism as a result.”
The tourism industry, like many others has struggled in recent times.
Mr Weir thinks independent hotels like the Mowbray have been hit particularly hard as they are unable to compete with the marketing budgets of the chain hotels and agents.
While agents can put them in front of a lot of people, he says they can almost charge as much as they want because of the amount of demand for them.
“I would say that 80 per cent of our bookings are now online,” Mr Weir added.
“It has all changed in the last 18 months, the phone very rarely rings . Even if someone is 10 minutes away they will book online.
“The key is to try and get our own website above the agents but they have massive budgets and you can’t compete.
Ashley Proctor, the general manager of the Cavendish Hotel in Eastbourne echoed Mr Weir’s words but believes they are an inevitable and necessary evil.
“Every hotel would prefer people to come direct. Agents put a lot of demands on hotels,2 she said
“On the flip side, there is still the advertising and they get you in front people who might not have heard of the hotel.”