A tourism organisation has launched a new zero commission booking service for hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation in Gwynedd.
The GoDirect scheme was created by North Wales Tourism as a regional alternative to online travel agencies like lastminute.com and Trivago.
The benefit for hotels, B and Bs and self-catering accommodation across North Wales is that they don’t have to pay any commission to GoDirect.
Online organisations charge up to 25 per cent for every booking made via their sites.
The idea is to encourage visitors to book direct with the accommodation providers, cutting out the middle man.
According to North Wales Tourism, they were responding to the needs of their members who said their profits were being squeezed by sky high commissions
Managing director Jim Jones explained GoDirect would ensure accommodation providers kept every penny they charged guests while visitors would enjoy the best possible rates.
The new service is being championed by the Go North Wales website run by North Wales Tourism to promote what the region has to offer visitors.
Mr Jones said: “What we’re trying to do is encourage all the visitors to our website which is the number one website for tourism in North Wales to go direct to the accommodation provides when they book.
“We used to take commission for the bed bookings we did through our website but after members asked us to reduce our rates we decided with the board’s agreement that we’d no longer do that.
“In fact, we are going a step further and won’t charge commission going forward.
“At the moment the online travel agencies are dominating the market.
“It’s better for everybody. It’s better for the accommodation providers because they don’t have to shell out on commission and its better for visitors because they can get even more competitive rates.
“Online travel agencies are a mixed blessing. There is a place for them but there is always a price to pay for the accommodation providers and the visitors alike.
“The GoDirect scheme is hopefully going to help the accommodation providers to thrive and that’s what we want at the end of the day.”
Mr Jones revealed they had also launched an initiative to attract more conferences, exhibitions and events to the region.
The creation of the North Wales Business Events Bureau was, he said, timely because people were looking for for more value for money.
North Wales was “very accessible and very affordable” for international and UK businesses that want to hold a conference.
The two initiatives were officially launched at the annual general meeting of North Wales Tourism at Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel when Mr Jones flagged up their achievements over the past year which included recruiting 240 members, taking the total up to 2,000.
The value of the tourism sector to the regional economy has risen to £3 billion a year and it employs more than 40,000 people.
The area’s growing popularity as a must-see destination was confirmed last year when North Wales was named as the fourth best place in the world to visit in its annual Best in Travel list– the only UK destination in the rankings.
Mr Jones said: “If you look back on 2017 North Wales has been on the crest of a wave, and one of our biggest focuses is to try to work as a region to promote North Wales.
“With some support funding we’ve received from the Welsh Government, we’ve spent more than £300,000 on blitzing the whole of the UK with our marketing campaigns, from London where we had buses and taxis wrapped to Manchester and Liverpool airports, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
“The feedback has been great, and we do feel that North Wales has now raised its profile and as a result we’re seeing more confidence and more investment in the area.
“One of our biggest successes has been the 84 per cent increase in Japanese tourists which is due in no small part to the creation of Road of Castles in Wonderland route.
“We have been working closely with the Japanese Association of Travel Agents to promote the area.
“Almost 2,400 visited last he summer using Japanese travel agencies that had never previously had Wales on their itineraries.
“Japanese tourists used to pass by North Wales. They’d go to Edinburgh, the Lake District, Chester and then travel down to Bath and London, but we’ve worked hard to promote the region and are starting to see the results.
“We have all the raw materials here. You look at what North Wales has to offer and it’s just stunning. It takes your breath away sometimes when you sit back and actually think about what we have got on our doorstep in abundance.
“We are such a dynamic region and by pulling together, the public and the private sectors, we’re going to be even more dynamic going forward.”