In response to concerns raised by CHTA and others regarding the implementation of a new policy by Booking.com applying commissions to all charges by hotels exclusive of government mandated taxes and VAT, Booking.com announced this week a modification to the policy.
In communications with Booking.com over the past month CHTA objected to the overall policy, taking strong exception specifically with assessing commissions on charges like destination enhancement and beautification funds, destination marketing and promotional funds, and tips and gratuities, which in some destinations are mandated.
These concerns were considered by Booking.com at the corporate level and while they are holding firm at this time regarding the assessment of commissions on tips and gratuities and other hotel-specific charges, they announced this week that ‘destination’ charges will not be subject to commission. To exclude this, hotels must follow procedures established by Booking.com.
Following is communication we’ve received from Booking.com guiding those hotels which assess destination charges as part of an organized private sector-led or Government formal initiative (i.e. Tourism Enhancement Fund, Marketing or Promotional Levy, Beautification Fund, etc).
“Destination fees exist to help develop, protect and enhance the industry. They may cover matters such as beautification, environmental protection and enhancement, public infrastructure improvements including wayfinding (i.e. signage). In some destinations they are an important part of destination marketing and public relations, and play a particularly important role in mitigating the impact of declining visitor arrivals due to natural occurrences and situations like hurricanes, sargassum, zika, dengue – which often impact one part of the Caribbean but in the consumer’s mind affect the entire Caribbean, hence the need for collective marketing and public relations to counter the negative impact.
A service charge shouldn’t and will not be considered as a destination fee and will continue to be commissioned accordingly. We (Booking.com) are aware that properties might not know that we can correctly set this up in our extranet and currently might be showing these fees in an incorrect configuration. Properties wishing to exempt destination fees should communicate with Booking.com via the extranet inbox the correct set up for their fees. Please note that we will not move a full service change to a destination fee since we know that a service charge has another purpose. We need properties to specifically break out what their service charge is and what is the destination fee”.
While this change in policy is helpful to those assessing destination fees and protects these important funds, the issue of service changes remains a concern. CHTA will be gathering additional information from the National Hotel and Tourism Associations to further support our position to Booking.com that these not be subject to commission. We welcome further input from members to consider in our ongoing communications with Booking.com.