Today, February 6th 2019 is # bookdirect – guest education day
This is a long article, but if you have some time to spare it may help you decide how to book your next holidays and get the best service, the best rates and even contribute to a (slightly) more responsible and fair market.
Agriturismo country house and B&B in Italy
Valle Nuova first opened its doors as an Agriturismo offering B&B accommodation 20 years ago. Back then, there was a huge confusion about what to expect when staying at an Agriturismo. This is why I wrote this article where I tried to explain the differences between different kinds of accommodation that were similar to us.
Time has passed and now the market is completely different. Most travelers no longer look for agriturismi or B&Bs, boutique hotels or holiday rentals, AirBnB is all the rage.
Valle Nuova has also changed, we’re still an agriturismo (a working farm offering accommodation), but we mainly rent our self-catering holiday apartments (plus we provide dinners, offer courses and organize experiences for the travelers who spend their holidays with us)
But what is AirBnB? Is there such thing as “AN AirBnB”? …I mean, is AirBnB a type of accommodation?
AirBnB is an OTA (an Online Travel Agent), a company whose job is to sell holiday accommodations (and other services for travelers). When it started, AirBnB was meant for homeowners who offered a room in their own house, usually only occasionally, to create a small extra income and for travelers who looked for very cheap accommodation. This is why AirBnB created a system where homeowners and guests could review each other. It was more similar to couchsurfing than to renting a room in a B&B, so trust should be built between landlords and guests.
In just a few years AirBnB has grown into probably the biggest OTA around, offering accommodation in B&Bs, holiday rentals, agriturismi and all sort of “non hotel” accommodation along with the original “paying couchsurfing” kind of accommodation.
So, there’s no such thing as “AN AirBnB”, and when you book through that site you actually deal with a huge number of different types of accommodation depending on the kind of lodging, the country, the legal status of the property, the people who own the place.
Nowadays AirBnB is a travel agent, it’s not a different way of traveling.
Trust and care…
So, now we know that AirBnB is a business. As any other business, its main interest is doing business.
Their business is selling something to owners and guests:
To owners they sell visibility (even if algorithms sometimes make it difficult to be visible).
To guests they sell a wide range of properties to choose from (yet, because of the same algorithms, you’re not necessarily shown the best property for you, but the one that AirBnB thinks it’s better, usually meaning that it adapts better to the AirBnB way of working).
Nevertheless they claim that they sell more than this… they sell an idea of “community” that should make it safer and better for everybody to deal with each other through them instead of directly. They sell the idea that they will protect you from unreliable homeowners… and owners from guests who will trash their property.
They sell the trust generated by the reviews that homeowners and guests write about each other.
They succeeded making us think that, before they existed, booking a holiday was a terribly complicated task filled with dangers, threats and perils. And they succeeded convincing us that they care about us.
Well, let me tell you: they don’t care about me and they don’t care about you: AirBnB is a business and there’s nothing personal behind it except me and you.
OTAs also help create a context where owners are pushed towards offering lower rates.
Of course your first thought will be that this is great for you as a guest! Of course, I’m also a traveller and I don’t mind saving some money! …But think of the consequences! Lower prices often mean properties that do not pay their taxes, do not pay fair wages to the people working for them and who are pushed towards selling more instead of selling a better service.
Smaller businesses sometimes just can’t (or don’t want to) compete and close their doors… Your favorite B&B could be pushed out of business, even if they provide the best service and a great value for money. New b&bs and rentals will open attracted by the dream of an easy income (just to realize that it’s not that easy) and so on.
But, is this the kind of market (and world…) that you want?
On the other side, the high fees that both you and I pay when you book on the OTAs, actually mean that in many cases you’re not really getting the best deal.
Booking directly with the owner is not that difficult: Google search and maps (even if many of the results lead to a big OTA), old style guidebooks, word to mouth, websites sawdays.co.uk, responsibletravel.com, agriturismo.it, houfy.com , travel forums sloweurope.com, Facebook groups… they will all help you find the right place for you (please add your favorite source to find accommodation online in the comments!).
(If you need someone to help you choose or book the perfect place for your holidays you can hire a travel agent, a real person who you can talk to and who is really interested in providing the best service.)
Why should you book directly with the owner?
- It ensures the lowest rates (when booking through an OTA lots of the money you pay, wether they tell you or not, goes to the OTA).
- It offers the maximum flexibility in case you need to change your booking, add extra guests or reschedule your booking altogether.
- It guarantees the best personal attention and care towards any specific needs you may have before or during your stay.
- It enables owners to stay in business by assuring a fair income: it’s the sustainable and responsible choice for your holidays.
Booking directly with reputable property owners who care about you and the business they run is the base for a great holiday. #bookdirect
Direct contact and trust
Locanda della Valle Nuova is a family-run agriturismo (holiday farm), and we are the real people behind the scenes, dedicated to making your holiday the best possible. It goes without saying, then, that we know our services, our property and our local area better than anyone else.
We believe that your holiday starts when you first contact us, so if you have any questions, or any special needs, we’re always happy to help. We can even suggest a different property for your holiday if we think that we are not the best option for you (and we have done it in the past), because we do not need more guests, but we want more happy guests who will return year after year and suggest our place to their friends and family.
If you stayed at Valle Nuova please take the time to write a review about your stay on your favorite webpage or on our Facebook page. For us it’s a pleasure reading your comments and a great possibility to grow and improve our service. It also helps us creating a real network of real people who appreciate our effort and suggest our place to potential guests.
We hope to see you soon at Valle Nuova!