We at Taste the Barossa happily pay the appropriate commissions to travel agents that sell our 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 knew 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 $6,000 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.