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Cumbria hoteliers appeal to OTAs for temporary commission relief

An open letter from the Lake District Hotels Association (LDHA) is calling on online travel agents (OTAs) to help drive business back to the lakes.

The plea comes after hoteliers in Cumbria were hit hard by the floods in December last year, with many properties continuing to struggle in the aftermath.

Cumbria Tourism have reported that some 90% of businesses offering accommodation in the county have been “detrimentally affected”, while Ian Stephens, the managing director of Cumbria Tourism, claimed the floods have led to a collapse in forward bookings.

The letter from the LDHA, which comprises 42 hotels in the area, 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 primetime 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.

“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 says that it would like to extend an open invitation to its 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 the year “back on track”.

It suggests the help from OTAs, which typically take commission rates of around 18% to 25%, could take various forms including; preferential online destination and product positioning; a  temporary reduction in commissions; joint PR; and training opportunities.

The letter adds it welcomes OTAs thoughts on a “win, win” strategy and asks for “constructive, meaningful and commercially effective” discussions on a way forward that can “help both parties”.

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