No Rooms at the Inn
I have just been updating the prices for the various accommodation options in Haad Rin. Every year resorts, hotels, hostels and villas tweak their prices. This is to be expected. What surprised me is that a few have left internet booking engines. Others seem to be deliberately holding back rooms from online booking. This post will attempt to unpick these trends.
In the old days bungalow resorts had one price they applied all year round. They had no minimum stay. If you turned up asking for a cheap bungalow and promised to stay for 4 or more days then you got a discount. A cheaper monthly rate could also be easily negotiated with many resort managers.
The internet has changed everything. All but a few hardcore hippy places have numerous seasonal prices along with rules about minimum stays and compulsory rip-off priced breakfasts for children staying with their parents.
Many of the Haad Rin accommodation options have their own website and yet they often shy away from publishing their prices. Instead you have to put in your stay dates into an availability calendar. The same is true for the big booking engines (except r24.org).
Why this lack of transparency? Simple. The prices are changed all the time. Lower rates are dropped; high end rooms are edged up a fraction. In short managers can sit at their computers and respond to rises and falls in profits by altering room rates.
It should be remembered that all booking engines take a commission. They all insist on price parity meaning resorts can’t sell rooms cheaper on their own website than they do on Agoda etc. This is a bane and a pain no doubt for some managers.
They get around the problem by informing the booking engine that they are fully booked. You will see a handful of Haad Rin hotels and resorts that are fully booked for the period you want. You try another date and you get the same response. 99 times out of 100 rooms are available. The truth is profits are down on the previous year and the resort aim to sell directly to the public and avoid paying commissions.
Fairyland Club Resort, Same Same Hostel and Wild and Wandering Backpacker Hostel have all left Agoda. Fairyland Club Resort has moved to r24.org. Why would resorts remove themselves from their most likely sources of online enquiries? I can only speculate – maybe some have money disputes; others might resent the price parity system; and others might figure they can make more selling directly to the walk-in trade. Perhaps these accommodation outlets are closing down or changing name?
To bring in a wider context, in Europe a couple of notable hotel chains have ditched big online booking companies because of the price parity issue. It is possible that this issue could be investigated by European lawmakers as the balance of power does seem unfairly stacked with the big hotel booking sites.
Can Koh Phangan hotels work together to get better deals from these companies? It seems unlikely. What is likely is that if you go to Agoda and see no rooms available there are in fact rooms. If you can’t find the place you are looking to book try an internet search as they may have changed name or moved to another booking engine.
More than likely there are rooms at the inn; it is just that the inn keeper is changing things hoping to make more money.