Many travel technology companies are now offering free bookable travel websites. This sounds like a great deal, to good to be true, after all something for nothing can't be bad. But there's a catch.... a big catch!
There no such thing as a free lunch bookable travel website!
I suppose the obvious thing to point out first is that nobody is going to give you a free bookable travel website. Ease Technology have a free website promotion at the moment, but these are non-bookable websites (or non travel) and cost a flat £50 a month. Nothing hidden about ours, no strings attached, we are simply celebrating our website launch by giving away professional quality websites with no set up fees.
A good bookable website can cost a lot of money to build. That's inevitable, because of the amount of work that goes in to building it. However, if you don't order a bespoke website (and are happy to have it templated) then you would be able to get a bookable website much cheaper. So what these companies will be offering you is a templated bookable website.
Template websites are much harder to optimize for Google, seeing as they're aren't going to be many differences (except in appearance) between your website and the next person to have one of these websites.
Therefore, you aren't likely to perform too well in Google, and for this reason, unless you invest heavily into pay-per-click marketing, you aren't going to get that many visits to your website. The visits will mainly be from existing customers and recommended customers.
So far, there's no problem. Even if it's a template, and only going to lead to a few bookings, it's still a free bookable website and better than nothing.
The main issue comes in the small print of the contract. You will be told that the technology company will be charging you a fee (flat fee or percentage cut) from your booking commission. Again, so far, no major problem (unless it's an high amount). The twist comes in when you are told that if you do not achieve a minimum number of bookings a month, you will be charged for that month a fee from the technology company to make up the difference.
This monthly minimum is likely to be anywhere between £500 - £1000. You will also be asked to sign up for 24 months.