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We would like to see all booking agents waive all booking commission fees for the month of January for all small business operators within the tourism and accommodation sector that have been affected by the fires from New Year’s Eve 2019.

As a small motel operator myself - our accommodation pays on average $70 000 per year to booking agents such as and Expedia. Personally I love what these platforms have done for the travel industry, however they do get so much support from small accommodation providers year round - it only seems reasonable that they give a little back to a community that they highly profit from year round.

Many small businesses are losing their livelihood due to the devastating bushfires that are rampaging their way across south east Australia. Small businesses may not be losing their physical building to fires, but they are loosing much depended income which both business owners and employed staff rely on for their own livelihoods.

Small business loans are usually secured with the business owners home - when no income comes in the business owner risks loosing everything and staff loose jobs. Income protection claims and business disruption insurance claims are getting denied. Donations and grants are generally not available either - as they are saved for those who have lost their homes and been displaced [as it should be]. Small business owners and their staff need our help  - hopefully we can help ease some of the financial burden with a simple signature. 

World-wide companies like, Expedia, and Wotif are very successful businesses and by waiving their agent commission fees for the month of January would have very little financial impact on their corporate businesses however has the power to greatly help all small business operators that have lost all their tourists during one of the most relied upon trading seasons  - the summer holidays.

Booking agents charge fees [usually its 12-15%] on whatever amount the tourist operator receives from their guest. If a guest cancels then the booking agent still gets their commission based on whatever the cancellation fee was.

With owners and staff overwhelmed with the huge volumes of cancellations and the occasional rude customer behaviour, they are worn down with all the stress and feel remorse that they are not in a position to give back any non-refundable deposits. I have spoken with several tourist operators who feel geniunely bad about customers losing their deposits - that they end up giving back cash refunds they can't afford.

Many of these refunds have been given after the guest has cancelled with the booking agent directly– in which case -  small operators will still be charged the full fees if they don’t update the booking agent with the correct total of refunds given. In stressful times it is the last thing operators will be thinking of doing or keeping track of, causing them to therefore be charged commission on income they actually didn’t receive.

For a small business that offers approximately 15 – 20 motel rooms – the average commission bill combined will be between $5000-$8000 for the month of January.

With zero income coming into the business and with many small business loans secured by the business owners own home – by waiving the commission for the month of January will more than likely ensure that the small business owner can pay both/either the business loan and their own mortgage and/or maybe help out their staff financially.

We are not seeking the waivering of fees for hotel and tourist group properties that are owned by corporate share-holders and backed by other properties e.g Novatel, Sheraton, Marriot and so forth. Only small business enterprises.

The areas that we are campaigning for are only the areas that have been directly affected with both bushfires and tourist evacuation requests. These areas are:

- Kangaroo Island

- The NSW South Coast: Batemans Bay, Bega Valley, Cobargo, Surfside, Narooma, Tathra,  Eden, Bermagui, Braidwood, Bungendore and so forth 

- The Snowy Mountains:  Jindabyne, Khancoban, Adaminaby, Tumbarrumba, Batlow, Thredbo, Guthega, Perisher, Kalkite, Berridale

- East Gippsland: Mallacoota, Cann River, Delegate, Omeo, Suggan Suggan, Buchan and so forth.

- Victorian Alpine Region: Corryong, Harrietville, Myrtleford, Bright, Mount Beauty, Hotham, Falls Creek

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