Are the AA and Visit Britain Still Relevant?

Are you putting your budget in the right places? Hopefully not the AA or Visit Britain!

Ten years ago, when you wanted to see if a hotel was worth staying in or not, where did you go? The answer was the Visit Britain and the AAThey were the prestige; they were the first places you went to. 

I remember my parents being on high alert every year when a Tourist Board assessor would appear on the doorstep for a “hotel stay and check” of the property. It was meant to be a surprise visit. 

Before the arrival of smartphones, you used to see people walking up and down a street looking for somewhere to book a room for the night. They would judge a hospitality based on how many stars were on the plaque outside the door of the property.

Now, everything is different.

This is the information age. The introduction of new technology has changed how potential guests judge whether a property they have seen is worth staying in or not.

Where do you go to check hotel reviews? I go straight to TripAdvisor and I know I am not the only one. It averages 43 million visits in the UK every month, while the AA averages 5 million views and Visit Britain a mere 500k.

The tide has turned. The AA and Visit Britain don’t have the same social standing as they used to. So why are they still charging hotels the same ridiculously high rates to just be in their database?

When I came back into the family business, the first thing I did was look at where our marketing costs were going. I was astonished at how much we were paying the Tourist Board/Visit Britain. We swiftly moved over to the AA as they were cheaper and were offering more for the money.

The main reason I didn’t take us off the program altogether was that we had just redecorated and renovated the whole property. The general thinking was that it would be good to have the AA assessor check to see where we were with their ranking and to make sure we were on track. Little did I know that the local hospitality association offers this same service as part of their annual membership, which costs less than £100

This was back in 2013 when the AA and Visit Britain still had a little standing in the hospitality world. 

People are not using the AA or VIsit Britain anymoreNow, four years on, both are outdated and unnecessary.

In 2016, I decided to do a survey. I emailed a thousand of our guests who were new bookings from that year. I asked about their deciding factor when they booked to stay on the farm. One person opted for our AA ranking. One. One person out of 1000 had said they had checked on what our AA ranking was before booking.

Social Media, Google reviews, word of mouth recommendation, Booking.com, and, of course, TripAdvisor were the most popular decision factors.

My prediction is that by 2022, the AA and/or Visit Britain will not be active anymore.

The question I have for you is this:

  • How much are you spending to be on the AA or Visit Britain every year?
  • How many bookings are you getting from it?
  • Where could that money be better used?

Think about it and reach out to me at mark@boostly.co.uk if you need any guidance. 

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