Tour OperatorsA more sustainable travel ecosystem starts with supporting local value chains, says Smiling Albino CEO Daniel Fraser.

The case for booking local hotels through DMCs

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Smiling Albino CEO and co-founder Daniel Fraser believes that booking through DMCs is a win-win solution for all stakeholders.
Smiling Albino CEO and co-founder Daniel Fraser believes that booking through DMCs is a win-win solution for all stakeholders.

Daniel Fraser, CEO and co-founder of Smiling Albino, pleads the case of why overseas guests or B2B partners should look to DMCs for accommodation booking.

As a Thailand-based destination management company (DMC), there are many reasons we want to book hotels on behalf of our overseas guests and business partners, but the short answer is that it works towards a stronger and more sustainable travel ecosystem for all of us.

To an overseas guest or B2B partner, I’d ask to please enable us the opportunity to match or beat the rates and benefits you may already have. Our intention is that you should not be paying more by booking through us, a local operator, nor should you lose the credit and recognition with the hotel for doing so.

When we are able to book hotels locally, it increases our annual volume with a hotel and thus deepens the relationship we have with such a property. Ultimately this pays dividends back to the guest in the form of potential upgrades, special treatment, or being able to resolve an issue on the backbone of a meaningful local relationship. Ultimately this is where the actual guest will benefit most.

But far deeper than that, it’s about supporting local supply chains, or “value chains”, as they should be called. As a local business in Thailand, we don’t have the kind of government support or industry subsidies that western Europe and North America have had through the pandemic. As such, even a small percentage on a hotel booking means a great deal to us and our staff as we’ve been fighting this pandemic alone from day one. It empowers us to build our businesses locally, to spend locally, to support locally.

Promoting sustainability by strengthening local economies and human resources is often discussed as a desirable goal in tourism conferences and hospitality media. Delivering on that really means promoting the economic well-being of local businesses and the communities they operate in. This has been part of our ethos at Smiling Albino since day one.

There are some hotel conglomerates that might offer better rates or benefits to overseas partners, likely members of large travel consortia with aggregate buying power, and I understand the calculus by which that makes business sense. I’m a capitalist too. For local hotels in our playground who do offer more attractive rates to overseas businesses, I appreciate how you got there, but we will likely discourage our guests and partners from using your property in the future. It is more important for me to build a sustainable business, empower local staff and foster local growth.

Ironically, it is often these hotel groups whose websites speak to the ideals of community empowerment, sustainability, and contributing to a better world. I challenge how any business model which actively works against fostering the sustainability of local economies qualifies for such attributes.

We seek triple-win scenarios while nurturing a sustainable travel ecosystem for our guests, our partners, and the travel community. By utilising local companies, the revenue still goes to the hotel, but the path it takes to get there matters. In a post-pandemic recovery in Southeast Asia where so much of regional GDPs rely on hospitality and tourism, that matters more than ever.

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