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Open letter from flood-hit hoteliers to OTAs makes heartfelt plea for help

21 March 2016 by
Open letter from flood-hit hoteliers to OTAs makes heartfelt plea for help

The Lake District Hotel Association has written an open letter to online travel agents (OTAs) Booking.com, Expedia and Late Rooms asking them to help flood stricken hoteliers in the area.

The heartfelt plea comes as hoteliers in the area continue to struggle in the aftermath of the floods which hit Cumbria in December last year.

The knock-on effects of the floods has seen visitor numbers plummet. Cumbria Tourism reports that 60% of businesses offering accommodation in the Lakes have been detrimentally affected by the floods.

The letter from the LDHA, which represents 42 hotels, says: "Our members have been hit very hard by the floods both at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. A quarter of our hotels had to close their doors as the disaster unfolded on prime time television for weeks on end.

"The timing could not have been worse as the floods coincided with the crucial time of year that consumers were making their summer holiday decisions."

The letter adds: "A number of our owners are worried that the destination brand has been damaged. Across our membership, online traffic is down, bookings are down, rates are down and the forward business on the books tells a worrying story."

It continues: "We would like to extend an open invitation to our online partners to explore what recovery activity can be done in the short to medium term to help member hotels sustain their businesses and get this year back on track. The Association believes direct action is required."

The LDHA suggests this help, from OTAs who typically take 18% to 25% of a hotel's rate in commission, could take a number of forms, including preferential online destination and product positioning, a temporary reduction in commissions, joint PR and training opportunities.

The letter asks the OTA's to help put together a "win, win" strategy and asks for "constructive meaningful and commercially effective discussions on a way forward that can help both parties".

It concludes: "Cumbria needs help, our hotels need help and the Association believes OTAs are in a unique position to be able to respond."

Speaking to The Caterer, Tim Rumney, LDHA board member and managing director of Best Western Hotel Castle Green in Kendal, said he hoped the open letter would lead to a dialogue with the OTAs about how they can help support hotels in the area during their recovery from the floods.

He said; "The OTAs have a lot of influence over the accommodation side of our businesses and anything they can do to assist in terms of a cut in rates or enhanced marketing would be very helpful."

He added that the LakeDistrict's hotel sector was key to Cumbria's economy." We are not talking about a few small hotels. These are significantly large hotels which employ a lot of people and what they add to the area in terms of GDP is very significant."

Online travel agencies spurn flood-hit hotels' pleas for help >>

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