I received an email this week, pointing to a new charge that the Homeaway Group are bringing in during February, that of a “service fee” for guests. Homeaway are a US based, large holiday group of listing sites, now owned by Expedia. Some of you will use Homeaway or have come across one of its subsidiaries, Owners Direct, a favoured site by many UK guests in particular. They already abandoned their USP some time ago in that many of the properties are agency properties rather than owner run ones and enquiring will only get you through to a customer service team who will have no personal knowledge of the property you are enquiring about.
Service fees are gradually creeping across the board into all the big sites, usually “sold” to you the guest as a price worth paying for the security and convenience of booking through their site. Ultimately it simply means you will pay more for your holiday than if you book your holiday direct with the owner. The owners are not benefiting from this change. Increasingly, the larger companies are “meddling” in our businesses more and more, bringing in automatic quoting systems and trying to channel us all into online booking.