Results when you search for ‘accommodation’
Today Google plays a major role to our daily lives, equally when travelling the first point of call to researching about accommodation before you can confirm a hotel/guesthouse stay, you reach for Google. So if you search for the keyword ‘accommodation’ exactly what are the results?
Below are the first page results according to Google search in no particular order last week (lately, Google results now change daily)…
WheretoStay.co.za is a long established accommodation portal that has been in existence since 1998. This portal profiles Accommodation, Restaurants, Activities, Golf Courses and General Travel information.
Accommodation providers pay R1475.44+VAT per year to have their properties advertised on WheretoStay.co.za. Contact details of individual property are displayed so that potential guests can book directly with them, without paying a referral commission.
For travellers to book directly with concerned property is a major advantage since you’ll be paying the going rate per night, without hidden costs at cover referral commission.
SA-Venues.com an established accommodation portal, popular with accommodation owners for attracting more bookings their way, compared with competitors. Launched in May 1999 by Christine Searle, they showcase the largest database of tourism products in South Africa.
Their business model is also charging an annual listing fee, R1,550 for a hotel and less for smaller properties and not charging a referral commission.
SA-Venues.com invests heavily in the design and layout of their product offering, which sets them apart from their competition. Just browse through their website, you’ll notice photography and quality content plays a key role.
If searching for any particular travel related keyword on Google, you’ll also notice that SA-Venues.com is always amongst the top 10 results, which means they’re heavily invested in building backlinks targeting multiple keywords within the travel industry in South Africa.
Should king Google (or any of the major booking engines) think of re-enforcing their South African product offering, SA-Venues.com would be a key target for a buyout.
Disclaimer – Christine Searle sponsored the creation of Travelwires.com that I recently sold.
Been in business since January 1999, SafariNow.com is one of the leading accommodation referral portal that charges a 15% commission for every booking it generates. Accommodation providers get to list their properties free of charge in return for a referral commission with every booking.
SafariNow’s business model is about concealing contact details of advertised property so that all incoming bookings are exclusively handled by them in order to monitor their referral commission. This business model is not watertight since tech savvy users are able to bypass them and book directly with the concerned property. This is done by going into SafariNow.com and once you’ve identified the property concerned, you then search for the particular property name directly on Google to find its website address to conclude booking.
SafariNow.com offers an affiliate program to online publishers, who promote showcased properties on their respective websites in return for getting a cut to the referral commission. This helps SafariNow.com to reach out to many other websites outside of their own thus increasing bookings, which benefits accommodation owners, while also increase SafariNow.com revenues.
Sleeping-Out.co.za has been in business since 2003 and boast of 8,500 properties listed on their database. Their business model is identical to that of SafariNow.com, the only difference is that their commission is 13.5%.
Sleeping-Out.co.za enjoys presence in 14 African countries beyond South Africa such as Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi and Ghana. This is a smart move since competition in accommodation portals is not as fierce as it is in South Africa, because of low internet penetration in those countries (granted Nigeria is the exception).
Again just like SafariNow.com, Sleeping-Out.co.za is also not immune to losing bookings as a result of potential guests booking directly with concerned property, after first coming into contact with named property on their website, then jumping ship to contact property directly.
In a space exclusively dominated by accommodation portals with large property databases listed with them, comes HorizonCottages.co.za. Owner-managed by Dennis Cook, Horizon Holiday Cottages offers self catering family cottages and romantic studio cabanas for couples in Noordhoek valley a short drive to Cape Town and closer to attractions of the Peninsula.
Just like SA-Venues.com, I’ve noticed that HorizonCottages.co.za is heavily targeting various keywords such as hotel, hotels, travel, guesthouse etc…always appearing on the first page of Google results with every travel related search. This is a smart move indeed to Dennis who is now competing equally with big brands, many owner-managed accommodation providers need to take a leaf from him to learn that the internet is an excellent platform for improving bookings.
Potential guests book directly with the property here, so there is no referral commission payable to anyone.
Getaway magazine is in the business of selling news…they’ve taken advantage of the SafariNow.com affiliate program http://getaway.safarinow.com/ to showcase accommodation facilities on their website and get referral commission in return. Their website ranks within the first page of Google result for the keyword ‘accommodation’ which drives targeted traffic to their website for confirmed bookings.
This is a simple process to online publishers because you simply refer targeted traffic to the affiliate provider who handles everything and you receive your commission in return. TravelBlogger.co.za is currently using HotelsCombined.com as their preferred affiliate program…they’re many other travel related travel affiliate products on offer in the market.
Following in the footsteps of Web Reservations International, owners of HostelWorld.com and BedandBreakfastWorld.com, whose core business model is the booking engine with supporting online brands to help drive targeted traffic for bookings to be made…ResAfrica.com does exactly that with their inhouse brand RoomsforAfrica.com.
It’s an accommodation booking portal offering confirmed accommodation bookings, behind the scenes powered by ResAfrica.com that manages all the logistics such as availability and payments.
Accommodation owners list their properties free of charge through ResAfrica.com, while RoomsforAfrica.com is responsible for driving targeted traffic to confirm bookings daily.
For potential guests…they’re actually dealing with a third-party and not directly with concerned property. Contact details in such an arrangement are only available to the booking party once booking has been confirmed through paying a deposit in most instances.
In RoomsforAfrica’s case potential guests complete a “request a quote” form, which basically means RoomsforAfrica then contacts the property owner to check for availability…this is a time-consuming exercise which delays the booking process. Once they’ve confirmed everything with property owner, then they’ll reply potential guests with details to process transaction.
AA Travel Guides
AA Travel Guides is better known for publishing guidebooks that profiles South African accommodation facilities from large hotels to owner-managed guesthouses, in recent years they entered the online portal space competing with the likes of SA-Venues.com and SafariNow.com to extend their brand.
Their unique offering is the AA Quality Assured Endorsement awarded to lodging facilities. Properties are given a quality rating by a qualified assessor who periodically visits and assesses their establishment. These ratings are based on how well guest expectations are met.
They also run an industry accommodation awards event annually honouring properties that excell in their sector. The short listing of accommodation facilities to the awards is based on feedback obtained from guests visiting the competing properties.
Potential guests booking through the website deal directly with the accommodation facilities, as AATravel.co.za does charge referral commission.