Book Direct: That’s the best way to travel

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Not so long ago, booking a room at the inn was as easy as picking up the phone and calling the number.  The friendly innkeeper would answer all your questions, and together you’d find then book the room. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Fast forward to today, and travelers are bombarded with messages on where to book and how to book your next lodging stay.  From Booking.com to Trivago, it’s all so confusing now.  Worst of all, most of the work is left up to  you, the traveler.  You’re stuck researching availability, prices and then finally trying to figure out if you’ve actually booked the right place and whether your credit card will stay secure. 

The Innkeepers at Inns Along the Coast have some advice on how to make booking simple and secure. It’s two simple words: BOOK DIRECT.  Next time you want to enjoy an inn-to-inn itinerary at one of the nine members of Inns Along the Coast, visit InnsAlongtheCoast.com, consult the new availability calendar there, then from there you can book directly with the inns.  They’ve made it easier than ever to find availability at any of the nine member inns, then book directly from there.  This makes booking inn to inn itineraries easier too.   If you’d rather, simply visit each member inn’s website to book directly or call the inn to make your reservation. 

We are willing to bet that seven out of every ten people reading this blog doesn’t realize that when they search for a lodging property on Google or other search engines and see that blue “Book A Room” box, that they’re not connecting directly with the inn.  Instead, they’re being directed to an Online Travel Agency (OTA for short), which makes the reservation for the traveler and charges the property a commission for that reservation. 

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In fact, when you click on that blue “Book A Room” box, you’ll be directed to a new page and offered a number of choices from OTAs.  Yes, innkeepers list their rooms on these third party booking sites, because that’s the way the travel booking world has evolved.  However, when you book a room on these sites, the inn doesn’t “own” the reservation and the inn is also charged a hefty commission for these reservations.   

 Recently, Acorn Internet Services, Inc. in conjunction with the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (all important businesses and associations in the B&B industry) surveyed 1,000 U.S. Google users - both men and women from the ages of 18 to 65+. The survey asked if the travelers thought clicking the BLUE “Book a Room” button would allow them to book direct at the property’s website.  A full 70-percent of those surveyed responded that they thought that Google’s “Book A Room” button went directly to the hotel or inn.  So, as you can see, if you thought that too, you’re in good company.

Travel Advice from Inns Along the Coast: Four reasons to book direct

As innkeepers, we not only would rather work with those coming to our properties directly, but we want to protect you from some common misunderstandings from bookings on third party OTAs  that can lead to travel disasters.  Here are four important reasons to book directly with the inn.

The OTAs control the reservation:

When you book on a third party site, like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com or Booking.com, that Online Travel Agency (OTA) “owns” your reservation.  Thus, if your travel plans change and you need to reschedule your stay or other aspects of the reservation, the innkeeper is unable to help you.  With any OTA reservation, the traveler is required to abide by the OTA’s cancellation policy and can only work with the OTA to change it.  This is always a painful situation for the innkeepers at Inns Along the Coast.  They want to help you make the change, but their hands are tied.  They must abide by the OTA’s rules of reservations and send you back to these corporate giants to attempt to make a change.  The sad news is that the giant OTAs are much less understanding or able to make exceptions and changes when situations for travel change. It pains the innkeepers.

The inn is unable to offer upgrades:

Once your reservation is made with a third party, it’s set.  That means your Inns Along the Coast innkeeper may want to offer you an upgrade to another larger room, but is unable to upgrade you to a different room level.  The innkeepers are bound by the OTAs to provide a room at the level you booked, with no changes whatsoever. So, while they’d love to upgrade you to another room level, the innkeepers are  bound to provide only the room you have booked. Once again, the traveler loses out. 

More room options when you book direct:

As you might expect, innkeepers don’t offer up all of their room inventory to the OTAs.  In fact, they offer a select few.  Thus, what you might find on Expedia or Booking.com is most likely not the entire availability for rooms at the inn on any given date.  If you’re celebrating a special occasion and want the best room at the inn, chances are you won’t find it on an OTA.  Book directly with the inn and you can choose from all the available rooms on the date you are traveling.  Mention that you’re booking a celebration vacation, and the innkeeper is able to offer additional services, ideas, and amenities to help celebrate that you won’t find when booking with the OTA.   

Better chance for savings when you book direct: 

When you book a reservation on any of the OTAs, it costs the innkeeper a commission.   When you book direct with your favorite Inns Along the Coast member or any other property, your reservation does not cost the innkeeper a fee.  This often means that the innkeeper is then able to offer additional savings when you book directly with the inn.  At a minimum, when you book direct, the innkeeper can apply savings via AAA or AARP discounts, when requested.  If you make a booking on an OTA, the innkeeper is unable to combine your stay with any other discount , package or promotion.  Once again, the reservation is set strictly by the limits of the OTA, and the innkeeper is unable to offer any additional perks. 

You might be asking why do the Inns Along the Coast and other innkeepers list rooms on the OTAs.  Sadly, as the world of internet searches and travel have evolved, when you go online and look for a room, the larger directories and OTAs appear first.  Thus, in order to be found, lodging properties – from small B&Bs and inns to large hotels – must offer rooms on these sites if they want travelers to discover them.

Yet, if you’ve visited the Inns Along the Coast, you know how much you love the properties and the innkeepers who own them  Do your Inns Along the Coast innkeepers a favor.  Next time you want to plan an Coastal Maine getaway, be sure to go directly to the Inns Along the Coast Availability Calendar or to the website of the inn or call them and book directly with them.  Mention you read about it in this Inns Along the Coast blog and you can be sure that your innkeeper will appreciate your willingness to work directly with them. 

And we have one more favor to ask.  Please tell all your traveling buddies to book direct too! Use the hashtag #BookDirect, and we’ll be most grateful.  No matter the destination, road trips include an element of expectation, and they rarely disappoint. Start planning your summer road trip to Maine and don’t miss the best part– staying at any or all of the nine Inns Along the Coast, from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor.  And don’t forget: Book direct for the best rates.

In Rockland:

Berry Manor Inn: Email: info@berrymanorinn.com, website: www.berrymanorinn.com, reservations: 800-774-5692/ Business line: 207-596-7696, Innkeepers:  Cheryl Michaelsen & Mike LaPosta

Granite Inn: Email: info@oldgraniteinn.com, website: www.OldGraniteInn.com, reservations: 207-594-9036, 800-386-9036.  Innkeepers:  Ed & Joan Hantz

LimeRock Inn: Email: info@LimeRockinn.com, website: www.LimeRockinn.com, reservations: 800-546-3762, 207-594-2257. Innkeepers:  Daniel and Ashley Bonneau and their daughter, Vieve.

In Bar Harbor:

Saltair Inn Waterfront B&B: E-Mail:  relax@saltairinn.com, website: www.saltairinn.com, 207-288-2882, Innkeepers: Kristi & Matt Losquadro.

Aysgarth Station B&B: Email: innkeeper@aysgarth.com, website: www.aysgarthstation.com, 207-288-9655, Innkeeper: Melody Kronenberg.

In Camden

Hawthorn Inn: Email: info@camdenhawthorn.com, website: www.camdenhawthorn.com,  207-236-8842, Your hosts: Ted & Lisa Weiss

In Freeport

Brewster House B&B: Email: info@brewsterhouse.com, website: www.brewsterhouse.com, 207-865-4121, Your hosts: Dave Noel & Kelleigh Dulany

In Kennebunkport:

Captain Jefferds Inn: Email: captjeff@captainjefferdsinn.com, website: www.captainjefferdsinn.com, reservations: 800-839-6844, 207-967-2311, Erik and Sarah Lindblom

In Newcastle

Newcastle Inn:  Email: info@newcastleinn.com, Website: www.newcastleinn.com, reservations: 207-563-5685, Your hosts: Julie Bolthuis and her four-legged assistant innkeeper, Jabu