In my last blog, I talked about why you should consider choosing a B&B over a 'cookie cutter' chain hotel. This blog is going to cover why it pays to research your options and contact the choice of accommodation directly.

OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) are hugely popular and very lucrative. They are designed for the consumer in this 'instant gratification' world we live in. You know your destination, you go online, punch in the town or city, up pops a whole load of options with ratings, photos, reviews and prices. As a frequent traveller you probably have signed up the discount programme and you believe you are getting the best rate. You may even feel a little smug, thinking you have got a better deal than the others staying in the B&B or other accommodation. Hold that thought!

Accommodation providers sign up to the OTAs because they rarely have a choice. Everyone else around them has bought into the process and even long established providers cannot rely on their regulars or walk in trade to compete. We are lulled into believing that it is in our best interest to use the OTAs; they build the platform for us, advertise our property, check our rates, send us awards and opportunities. How great is that!

The reality is, they ignore our descriptions of our properties and write their version, they choose your primary photos and they charge us huge commission fees . The more exposure you want, the more it costs. Is it any wonder the 'cookie cutter' hotels have become more basic - they can't afford to offer what they used to without pricing themselves out of the market.

Did you know that if you call direct or go to the accommodation website you have liked on the OTA, you can nearly always get a better rate. Special offers, such as the one we have been running in March in the B&B has saved the guest 20%. Next month we will offer one free cooked breakfast to our hostel guests based on two or more sharing.

Do everyone, most of all yourself a favour, and spend a little more time researching the property you want to stay at and then call. If its not cheaper then feel free to book online. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.