Customers and accommodation owners can both win by cutting out online travel agents (OTAs)

A recent Which? Study has found that families wanting to save on their next holiday should hunt around when trying to find the best deals for hotels and flights if they want to save money.


The research found discrepancies between the major booking platforms when looking at the price of hotels and flights.


This comes as no surprise to ‘the book direct guy’, Mark Simpson, who has been a man on a mission to help independent hospitality businesses make more from direct bookings rather than handing over a large slice of commission to online travel agents (OTAs).


Mark, who has helped small businesses save thousands of pounds in commission costs, said both Expedia and had been forced to change their rate parity agreements, which means that accommodation providers are no longer forced to offer the same rates for the same room on all distribution channels.


He said this meant OTAs were trying to undercut each other by reducing prices and taking the hit on their own profit from commission they take from bookings, which is usually a minimum of 15%.


Mark said: “If you really want the best rate, don't go to Expedia, don’t go to, because as soon as they axed rate parity agreement, now the power is with the hotelier, the power is with the owner and you always get the best rate when you book direct.”


Using his own experience of running his family farm stay business near Scarborough, Mark set up the thriving Hospitality Community Facebook Group and realised that many small businesses needed advice and guidance on how to reduce their reliance on sites like Expedia, and Airbnb.


He set up Boostly, an online academy that gives hosts the tools, tactics, and training to boost their profits through direct bookings, and he has also penned The Book Direct Playbook which was published last month.


He said: “My big, ambitious goal is to help 1,000,000 hosts to cut down on their over-reliance on OTAs

such as Airbnb and


“I want them to increase their direct bookings, and I want them to have bookings that are on their terms without having to rely on a middleman. 


“If I can teach 1,000,000 hosts how to do that, and they, in turn, can educate their guests on the benefits of booking directly, the big OTAs will have to start paying attention to us – and maybe we can have a seat at the table. 


“There may be an opportunity where we can lower our commission costs, where we can get more power, and where they treat us like partners.” 


While holidaymakers could be worried about the level of Covid-related cancellation cover or other travel protection when booking direct, Mark said: “Everyone should get their own holiday insurance as standard, Covid enhanced, that doesn’t matter if it’s a staycation or abroad.”


Plus companies such as and are helping to give owners more protection and a better guest experience too. Mark said: “There’s more services becoming available at an alarming rate because there’s a need for it in a post Covid world.”


A previous study by Which? found savings of up to 12 per cent by avoiding well-known booking websites.

The latest Which? Research found that when looking for hotel deals, other providers such as Expedia were cheaper than in nine times out of 12 comparisons.


The Which? study found that a week in France was as much as £154 cheaper with Expedia, but this wasn't always the case.

For example, the consumer watchdog found that three nights in Porto were £80 less with than Expedia, while another search showed a week in Crete being £185 cheaper with said on-going tests and experiments, known as AB testing, sometimes causes temporary fluctuations in price, which accounted for some of the changes noted by Which?

The full results of the Which? research can be found here:


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