During my recent vacation in Florida I stayed in four boutique hotels. I had booked most of them through www.trivago.com which aggregates many of the hotel discount websites to give me the lowest possible price. Readers may have noticed that some of these companies occasionally offer substantially lower prices, while some offer free stays, even at expensive hotels.
As a curious person I asked the hotel owners what have to pay for these services. Their answer shocked me. It appears that these small hotels have to pay 25% to 30% of the total booking costs to these websites! That is a huge.
Even though they complain about the high cost, they admit that the service fills up empty rooms, especially when some of the websites offer a large part of that fee as a discount to attract business. I understand that the large hotel chains pay only 5% to 10% fees for these services. Although shocking, it is good that competition and transparency are bringing down costs for us travelers.