|Dubai Internet City - UAE|
Firstly, the properties are fantastic, and while prices for some things seem high, others are quite cheap.
You can book a 5-star hotel (apart from the resorts) with over 130 to choose from for between €50 and €100 a night (about 250-500 AED). We found that affiliate and visitor information sites (like http://www.tripadvisor.ie, http://www.tripadvisor.ie/, http://www.travelrepublic.co.uk/ and YouTube) were by far the best sources to determine our budget for hotels. The worst were the actual hotel websites.
Our first hotel, located in Bur Dubai, was really suitable for Business travellers and was close to the airport. When contacted directly, they quoted amounts about 4-5 times higher than the hotel comparison sites for the same hotel.
So, when approached by someone who eventually found their hotel online, and could have made a direct booking with no commission they chose to instead accept 75% less via a hotel reservations site and pay a commission. This makes no business sense to me at all.
The hotels we did book were based on what we could find out about them on Trip Advisor (discounting any blatantly "I've a bee in my bonnet" negative posts), but mostly on what we saw on YouTube. Good quality information, showing guests about what they offer, what they can do and where the hotel is located costs considerably less than handing over 75% of your projected turnover from internet-based sales.
It's a remarkable lesson for business owners - when you underinvest in your website and web assets (like your website, YouTube Channel, twitter, Facebook page) - then it will have a direct and potentially fatal cost to your business.
SEO adds value to your business by bringing the end customer with the product developer. Affiliates add less value and more cost to the transactional business.
Ultimately we found the best value via a travel agency in Kerry - who gave us the best advice and value on our second hotel, which was just unbelievable.
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