A large proportion of Scotland’s independently-run guest houses and B&Bs could be missing out on a slice of more than £3 million worth of bookings, according to new figures from VisitScotland.
As many as 52% and 62% respectively of the 573 guest houses and 1,448 B&Bs listed on visitscotland.com could be losing out because they haven’t embraced online booking, says the tourism organisation.
According to VisitScotland, this means they may be losing out on a share of website bookings to competitors who offer the fast and easy option.
Cassie Bouverie, owner of Private House Stays, one of the booking partners working with VisitScotland, believes there are still a number of concerns and misconceptions that may deter providers from taking the ‘online’ plunge.
She said: “We know that people like to be able to book online quickly. But often accommodation providers think that if they offer this service they will lose control and people will turn up on their doorstep unexpectedly and unannounced.
“This is true of some systems, but not all, so it’s worth looking for a ‘non-live’ system. This means that a booking can be made online, but it has to be physically accepted by the provider before it’s confirmed.
“We specialise in supporting smaller or privately-owned providers, who are usually offering accommodation in their own homes, so we know that having this option is important to them.”
And with people spending on average 31 hours every month on their laptop or PC and 66% of people using a smart phone, Bouverie believes that providers who don’t go online are likely to miss out.
“Fears about using a computer, or not having the necessary software skills are also holding back many providers,” says Bouverie, who ran a B&B in Edinburgh with her husband, Archie, for 12 years before setting up Private House Stays.
“But an online booking system is aimed at saving time and money so, crucially, it needs to be simple to operate and maintain, with no hidden costs.”
Source: Ofcom Facts & Figures, 2014 – 2015