This has been a funny old year so far, with bookings for bed and breakfast totally out of sync with what one might expect. Hubby and I could not work out why this was, but since each year is different, we thought nothing more of it except to put it down to the economic climate in Britain. Imagine our surprise when we found out just this week that in fact a number of websites had been using our photos and buying the name of our guest house for use in Google Ads. It was only on clicking those links that we realised what these companies were up to – with results detrimental to our business.
Basically, if someone looks for ‘Blenheim Lodge Windermere’ or similar, that person will see Google Adwords links to our guest house, Blenheim Lodge. The small print at the bottom of the large lettering proclaiming ‘Blenheim Lodge, Windermere’ in the ad is the link that will take that person over to a comparison site, where a beautiful photo of our lovely large 4-poster room with panoramic Lake Windermere views takes top spot on their page (see the image below). Now, here is the catch: the person who has reached this page will be told that we have no availability even though we do, and asked to book from a choice of other hotels in the Lake District instead.
This is how it works. The clicker goes onto the Google Adwords page and sees the photo of our room. The clicker is asked to select dates of arrival and departure, and duly told that Blenheim Lodge is fully booked; therefore, the clicker is asked to book one of the other hotels listed below our B&B instead. What is not clear to the clicker is that the other hotels can be booked through commission-based booking sites and that is why prices come up for them. As for our place, there isn’t a link to a commission-based booking site, which is why prices do not come up for us – making us un-bookable and, according to the website, fully booked by default!
The problem is that these websites have hijacked our photos and our name for Google Adwords without reference to us. We are not registered with any of them, yet they have used our details without compunction despite our photos being copyrighted. The end result remains the same: we end up with no bookings, but our name and photos are used as a lure to potential customers interested in staying in our B&B who are then pushed over to stay at other hotels because they are shown to have vacancies, whilst we are purported to be fully booked.
Why do these websites do this? Is it because they get a commission for every booking? I have now found out that some of the websites that have done this to us are part of a very large international conglomerate, and have written to those I have found and asked them to remove our details or at least to put a booking link on their site to ours. I have not heard back.
So, instead of doing so many other things that I could be enjoying over this past week, I have spent it chasing lawyers to see whether I need to take this further legally. Argh! What some people will do for money! It’s a greedy world out there. If only these website giants were less unscrupulous, it would make life easier for small fry like ourselves. Herein ends my rant (for today)!
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com
Telephone: 015394 43440