Gangtok/Guwahati: All the hotels and restaurants in Sikkim have unanimously decided to support the notice put forth by the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) and various other hotel and restaurant associations of the country to boycott bookings from the online portals—MakeMy Trip and Goibibo—with effect from December 1.
This was decided in the annual general meeting of the Sikkim Hotel & Restaurant Association (SHRA), the apex organisation representing all hotels and restaurants in Sikkim, held in Gangtok recently.
Meanwhile, to press for their various demands, the FHRAI has also threatened to launch a nationwide protest against the OTA entities.
Various other hotel and restaurant associations of India like Ahmedabad Hotel Association, Jaipur Hotel Association and Delhi Hotel Association and many other similar associations have also supported the move made by FHRAI.
The members of the FHRAI alleged that the Online Travel Agents’ (OTAs) business practices, which were exploitative, unethical and divisive, led to predatory pricing and other market distortions that had the potential to harm both hoteliers and consumers in the long term.
“We wish to further express our desire to explore possibilities of amicably resolving the issues before calling for a nationwide protest against the said OTAs,” said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, vice- president – FHRAI & president – Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).
Around 300 hotels in Ahmedabad have decided to boycott bookings from two online portals – MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo – from Saturday, December 1, onwards. Hoteliers have alleged that indiscriminate discounting by these travel portals has adversely affected their business.
“These portals charged 35% commission from hoteliers on discounted rates. Due to this, it was becoming quite difficult for hoteliers to sustain business as they were losing revenue,” sources said.
A presentation relating to the working methodology of OTAs was also made during the AGM of the SHRA. This was followed by an open discussion among members regarding the primary issues being faced by association members in relation to exorbitant commissions being charged by some online travel companies, unfair accounting practices and unauthorized and further discounting of hotel prices set by hoteliers.
The AGM further resolved that the association members will invite representatives of OTA to meet the executive body of SHRA as soon as possible and also provide a week’s time and ultimatum for domestic online portals – Goibibo, Makemytrip and Oyo to adhere to some of their demands of SHRA.
Some of the prominent demand of the SHRA include -- no coupon code discounting on hotels from OTAs; commission level to be set at 15%; no performance linked bonuses (PLB) without written consent of hotels and with exit clauses; early check in / late check-out / cancellation / modification policies to be decided only by the hotel and not the online portals; payments are to be more transparent with all payments to be made within 48 hours of a booking being made and not at the time of check in.
“For the cases where bookings have been already received prior to the deadline of December 31, 2018, the same will be honored so as to not cause any inconvenience to guests but no bookings will be honored post the January 1, 2019 in case the issues are not resolved with the respective OTAs,” the SHRA clarified.