The Cost of Convenience: Understanding the Impact of Online Hotel Booking Platforms on Taxes and Ecology
Understanding the hidden costs of online hotel booking platforms and alternatives for sustainable travel
Booking.com, Expedia.com, Hotels.com - these are just a few of the many online hotel booking platforms that have made travel easier for millions of people around the world. However, have you ever stopped to consider the impact these platforms have on the environment, independent hotels and taxes? In this article, we take a closer look at the ecological and economic cost of using these platforms and explore alternatives for reducing their impact.
Feeling the need to get away, visit a new city, and discover local specialties? You decide to use an online hotel booking platform like Booking.com, Expedia.com, or Hotels.com. These websites make travel easier by offering hotels that meet your criteria (number of rooms, amenities, distance from the city center, price, etc.).
Since the 90s, web platforms have been constantly improving to offer an efficient and quick experience. To achieve this, many servers must operate and be powered to run all of these data warehouses. Hotels from around the world are listed on these platforms, along with countless customer reviews.
In addition, these platforms also have tracking systems to improve their interface and collect data on your usage. The ultimate goal is always the same: to keep you coming back. In short, to make you systematically go through them to make your bookings.
All of this has an ecological and economic cost, of course. For example, a platform like Booking has become so indispensable that it allegedly abuses its position to increase its commission "over the customer's head" according to hoteliers. Thus, Booking charges 10% for hotel chains or groups, but 25% for independent hoteliers. Commissions also vary depending on the city: 17% for Cap d'Agde, 15% for La Grande Motte...
Furthermore, these platforms have become experts in tax evasion, like the GAFAMs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft). Despite their thriving businesses, they pay proportionately less taxes than independent hotels.
It is also worth noting that before 2015, Booking.com had imposed a parity clause prohibiting hoteliers from displaying a different price on their own website. By going directly through the hotelier, the hotelier will not pay the commission taken by the platforms. This is why you can negotiate a more favorable rate or a free breakfast.
As you can see, to reduce the use of data centers, it is best to bypass these big platforms by contacting hoteliers directly.
Do you use these online booking platforms? Could you do without them?