Taste the Barossa is choosing to push back against greed in the tourism industry!

June 2nd, 2020 | | Tourism

Taste the Barossa is choosing to push back against a few greedy hotels in Adelaide. Sometimes you have to say no, that’s not in the best interests of the tourism industry as a whole. The up side is an iconic South Australian Children’s Charity will benefit.

Taste the Barossa happily pay the appropriate commissions to travel agents that sell tours and rightly earn that commission. We are proudly featured in wholesale, inbound and retail brochures world-wide and value those relationships we have built over the past 20+ years we have been in the tourism industry.

We have serious issues however with the relatively new practice here in Adelaide of some City hotels, who in partnership with an online agent are charging us 20% commission when a customer chooses our brochure from the brochure rack and takes it to the hotel concierge in order to book our tour.  

To be clear, we’ve already paid for our brochures and we also pay a substantial monthly fee to be in the brochure racks. How can 20% commission (shared between the hotel and an online agent) possibly be justified simply for a phone call?

When this first happened we reluctantly agreed to a 20% commission rate. However, after literally no bookings from a hotel we previously had many bookings from, I called the agent to query the issue.

I was told that we weren’t competitive enough. Not really understanding the answer I argued that we were ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for the previous 8 years and remained without a doubt the most popular and positively reviewed tour company in Adelaide.

Knowing the company they were selling, I was confident we had the superior product. Unfortunately, when they said we weren’t competitive enough it wasn’t the quality of our product it was the level of our commission rate, the other company was paying 25% commission.

We were told if we wanted sales we’d have to increase our commission. We know customers were picking up our brochure and being sold another product purely on the basis of a higher commission. This is a very slippery slope!

This simply isn’t sustainable in the medium to long term, positive word of mouth from customers is imperative.  We can’t be diluting the quality of our customers experience simply to add a small income to the bottom line of huge hotel chains.

This is even more important in a market like Adelaide where we have to trade on the quality of the experience rather than a well-known iconic attraction.

Last year Taste the Barossa chose to stop paying any commission of any type to local hotels and instead have partnered with the Little Hero’s Foundation. We now donate 10% of all bookings made by hotel staff directly to The Little Hero’s Foundation. To date we have donated over $4,000 to this local South Australian Charity.

Stay tuned for our new Taste the Barossa initiative to raise much needed funds for the Little Hero’s Foundation. We are very excited. This is our way of pushing back

Source: Taste the Barossa

Comments please

7 Responses

  1. Andrew Wahoo says:

    In answer to your question:

    “How can 20% commission (shared between the hotel and an online agent) possibly be justified simply for a phone call?”

    Rent – Bills – Wages – Tax (that have to be paid by both the hotel and an online operator).

    Yes 20% may sound like a lot to you, but with the cost of the tour you’re talking about, it’s less than 28 bucks. Any less than this simply wouldn’t be worth the time or effort of said hotel and online operator, a 50/50 split between these parties would mean a whopping $14 each.

    In a industry where sales staff are paid a commission on sales they make good luck not offering any.

    • Dallas Coull says:

      Andrew, we happily pay commission if it’s earned. If a hotel packages our tours up and pre sell them we will happily pay a commission. When a person picks a brochure up out of a rack we are being charged to be in and asks the concierge to make a phone call that’s not a commissionable service that’s just providing a service to a guest.

  2. Andrew Wahoo says:

    “providing a service to a guest” – Someone has to pay for the hotel employee providing a service!

  3. Dallas says:

    Hotels provide accommodation, they have cafes and restaurants. They employ staff to look after their guests. We have made a stand against hotels that want to charge 20% commission for a simple phone call that a guest has asked them to make. Should we start accepting a 20% commission to taxi drivers? We all need to work together to grow the tourism industry, pushing tour operators based on the commission they pay rather than the quality of the product is ultimately going to hurt everyone.

  4. Andrew Wahoo says:

    I’m confused by your statement of “we need to work together”. You mean you want hotels to get their staff to work for you for free?

    Also, I do not understand your taxi comment, you do realise that if a hotel books an airport shuttle for example or a hire car for a guest then that company pays the hotel a commission?

    I wonder if you accept commission/payment from the wineries you visit on your tour or take a cut of the sales of wine by your customers on the tour? A common practice in the industry. Or as you so righteously take a stand against commissions I’m assuming you wouldn’t dream of doing this?

    Hotels provide accommodation, they have cafes and restaurants and they also provide tour advice and bookings. If you don’t want to cough up for a third party taking the time and incurring the cost to book your tour good luck to you.

    I don’t think pushing tour operators based on commission they pay “is ultimately going to hurt everyone”. I think it’s ultimately only going to you, because why would anyone book you, when they know they get nothing in return.

    Maybe you’re having to watch the pennies after having to fork out $25k due to your driver speeding in a company vehicle.

  5. Dallas Coull says:

    Hi Andrew
    To answer you question we no not take a commission on any sales through the wineries. I believe that everyone in the tourism industry has a role to play and if we all do it well then everyone will do ok. It’s a new practice in Adelaide that hotels use an online booking agent to make bookings and only a couple of hotels have gone down that route, I’m please to say that after making this stand the couple of hotels that did start this practice have re thought their structure of assisting guests and are now making a phone call or allowing the guest to make a phone call from the lobby for free. Regarding the fine, I’m pleased to say that we have lobbied the politicians and amendments are being implemented to exclude small school, and tour buses from this flawed legislation at which time our ridiculous $25,000 fine will be withdrawn.

  6. Andrew Wahoo says:

    Disputing the legislation and implementation of the fines is one thing. ($25,000 for not supplying the drivers details at the time of the offence).

    Fact remains that your driver was speeding.

    Free bookings, free advertising, free traffic offences…………………