Check-in.com.au Placed in Voluntary Liquidation

Popular Australian accommodation website Check-in.com.au – which claims to have taken one million bookings since it was founded in 2002 – was today placed in voluntary liquidation and is no longer processing new bookings.

An email sent to the industry said there’ll be a creditor’s meeting in June and told hoteliers that if they are holding “future bookings to please contact the guest to arrange direct booking and payment.

“For a refund to be issued, please advise the guest to submit a claim to their credit card provider,” the email said.

“If their credit card provider is unable to assist in providing the guest with a refund, the guest should contact the liquidator, Holzman Associates for further assistance.”

Liquidator Manfred Holzman said he’d been only given the job today and declined to comment on the number and nature of creditors.

At this stage the website is still up and running with no indication of its financial trauma.

However, while all appears normal as as users navigate the booking process, the final page says the “website is undergoing maintenance and not processing reservations”.

Check-in.com.au booking page

Check-in.com.au was founded by Managing Director Simon Isaacs 11 years ago.

The site has historically performed well in terms of traffic with Mr Isaacs telling TravelTrends.biz in 2010 that it was attracting 450,000 unique visitors a month.

However, at the time he said rising search engine marketing costs had become a major challenge for the business.

As result, Check-in.com.au increased commission to 15% to give it extra funds it needed to compete with the free-spending multi-national online travel agencies.

Mr Isaacs has been contacted for comment but has not yet responded.

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49 thoughts on “Check-in.com.au Placed in Voluntary Liquidation”

  1. Hi,
    I won $1000 worth of accommodation from them and recently sent them
    an email with my booking and so on but they have never gotten back to me since.
    I have also written them through their facebook page twice and still no answer.
    So i suppose i should say goodbye to that prize???

    Sharyn

  2. we run accommodation. we are owed over 3000.00 dollars as guests have paid them directly and we can only invoice check-in.com.au the amount after the guest has been and gone. I know many many other managers on the gold coast that have outstanding invoices too.

  3. Where else has this been announced? I could not find mention of it anywhere else. We have an accomodation business in the Blue Mountains and for the past number of months we have had to work REALLY hard at chasing our monthly payments!! This explains everything. Do you have a copy of the email you referred to that was sent to the industry?? It may help us in explaining to future guests that will be impacted by this. In fact we have two sets of guests due to our establishment next weekend – not nice to be left explaining someone else’s doing.

    1. We have had the same experience Robyn. We are owed monies by Check-in.com.au. Yet we have been accepting guest’s despite Check-in.com.au refusing to pay for past guests to protect our brand. Guest’s that have paid Check-in.com.au direct only see that they have paid and that’s understandable when viewed from the guest’s point of view. However its not too good for a business to keep accepting booked guests from this booking company that wouldn’t/wont pay its commitments, yet kept maintaining an expensive advertising program for themselves to the end.

  4. The amount of advertising they’ve been doing recently on billboards and other signage around airports made me think they either have a lot of new funding or they are taking a very risky and expensive brand strategy to reaffirm themselves in the market.

    In reality it seems as though it may have been a last throw of the dice to get the traffic and bookings back to their site.

    Its a real shame to see an entrepreneurial Aussie business go this way – I hope that all involved can move forward in a positive way.

    1. Its fine to say you hope that they can move forward in a positive way… They (Check-in.com.au ) have been refusing to pay monies owed to suppliers for months. Yet had the cash to still advertise instead of paying their debts.

  5. I just took over my business and just hope i get my payment from check in.com every dollar helps if you in a small business and bigger company owes you money…

  6. Many on the Sunshine Coast have been affected by this, too. Also telling people they have to pay again for their holiday is not pleasant. Happy to support Australian businesses but I don’t understand how this kind of business can operate without keeping clients funds safe in a Trust Account.

  7. We have been told for over 8 months now that the invoices would be paid and there was a computer clinch. We as operators can’t afford to take these financial hits. Must we go back to old systems of only taking bookings from guests directly and cut out all agents and booking channels? This would leave us with an unfair competitive advantage over our competitors. We have lost thousands of $$$$ and more than likely will never recover these funds. We have honored our commitment by supplying accommodation we should be paid.

  8. It was foretold a few years ago at a No Vacancy conference – “any aggregator that charges more than 10% commission will find themselves out of business”. I wonder if the likes of agoda, booking.com, wotif et al will pay attention?

  9. Checkin have owed me money since Jan 2013. The website wont let you upload invoices. I have further bookings that I will not be able to honor as I will never get paid

  10. Hi
    We are an accommodation provider in Mollymook they owe us money for the last few months they refused to make the payments now i see why.
    For the last year they have been making excuses computer problems or best of all send us remittance that the payments have been made however never made it to our account.
    We also have future guests who have paid for their accommodation direct to checkin.com

  11. An unfortunate scenario, hate to see aussie companies hit liquidation. If more aussies supported Australian sites and not these foreign booking sites things like this wouldn’t happen! We are the least patriotic country in the world when it comes to supporting our own.

  12. I feel sorry for the staff that work for the company too. My friend works there and got into work yesterday and told sorry you no longer have a job or an income and received no warning or heads up that anything was wrong. Sad for hotels, customers and the good staff that were just doing what everyone was doing, trying to make a living.

  13. Sad to see this happen to checkin.com.au, Simon & his team.
    We are lucky we didn’t use them over the last few years, so have no financial woes to deal with.
    This should be a seen as a lesson to ALL accommodation operators that the only model worth doing business on is an agent model where the client pays the hotel direct and the OTA is paid their commission post guest stay.
    These merchant models are too risky… hotel owners and honest travellers shouldn’t have to deal with this – OTA’s spend too much money on advertising and SEO; It’s only a matter of time before they spend more than they make.
    A major shift to direct bookings should be the number one goal for every brand even independent operators.

  14. Same story as the Accommodation Provider in Mollymook. We are owed over$1,800.00 for Guest accommodation from February to May inclusive. Suggest that others that are owed money submit an email ‘Letter of Demand’ to the appointed Administrator mholzman@holzmanassociates.com outlining monies owed so they can be listed on the Creditors Register. Alternatively the Administrator can be contacted as follows: Holzman Associates, GPO BOX 3667, Sydney NSW 2001. Ph: 02-92229070 or
    Fax: 02-92229071.

  15. I have just recieved an email informing me the motel I stayed with and paid through check-in.com has charged my credit card for full payment again without notice! How is this fair? Shouldn’t the motel be chasing the money from check-in.com and not me?

    1. Hi Andrea, you are under no obligation to pay the property direct for previous bookings, as you have already made payment to Accommodation Clearing House. Should you have already been charged by the property directly, I would recommend contacting your credit card provider to lodge a complaint and dispute the charges or seek legal advice. As you said, they should be lodging a claim with the liquidators, not recharging guests who have already stayed.

  16. I worked for this place 3 years ago for a few years and can say, having been in the Hotel Industry for 11 years prior, it was in trouble. Even when I got sacked I told Simon I understood because they were struggling then, its a shame though because I know he had put so much long hours and hard work into the place. Worse off reading all of the statements from properties of how much money they will lose. I think it could’ve been run much better, but it wasn’t my company to say. I hope they can get a resolution out of this, even if it means selling his assets! I would rather go poor with a good name then stay rich with a shit name….. Just my thought!

  17. Back in January I booked 12 nights accommodation around Tasmania for an updoming family holiday in late June / early July. Accommodtion of 5 of these nights was booked and paid for via Check-in. After communicating with the respective accommodation providers I learn that payment has not as yet to forwarded to them by Check-In…….. I ask why not? These 5 nights of accommodation cost $1,100…… Now in a position that I have to again pay a similar amount in order to retain the same accommodation that I’ve already paid for. What was a much anticipated (and barely affordable) family holiday is now in grave doubt given we now have to find another $1,100 so we can still go to Tassie. I’ll go through the motions and lodge claims with our Credit Card Provider and the Liquidator….. but chances of recovering any of our money paid would be remote at best given that we paid back in January.

    1. As an accommodation provider i often wonder why people choose to use a third party provider. We get a large amount of telephone requests for cancellations, alterations etc my response is don,t ring me you booked with XYZ you need to ring them. They are an uneccessary complication to doing business. The only way to book in my opinion is on a direct property website or dare i say the telephone, this way you are dealing directly with the provider without the complication of a third party.

  18. Personal sad story

    We haven’t been on a holiday for over 5 years and our son wanted to attend a convention so we booked flights and then accomodation through check-in only to find that they didn’t refund a mistake they made and charged me again and the hotel calls me to say I have to pay again if I wish to stay.

    Outcome is that we are no longer able to go and cannot afford to pay 3 times for accomodation, very, very sad family, I cannot stop crying seeing i organsied it all and it was going to be a combined shopping trip which now cannot do either

    1. I hear your pain. My significant other & I have been scrimping & saving for our little trip as a treat after 7 years of staying with friends or sleeping on floors with relatives and after a horror year of deaths & other bad personal events. This was our all-out, forget the crap, relax & have fun holiday. Now I have to work out where the hell I’m going to get the money from to re-pay the accommodation as well as pay my phone, rego, power bill, rent and food. We’re screwed. 🙁

    1. Could not have said it better myself! They go too carried away with their own importance and were losing properties left, right and centre. Am surprised that they held out for so long!

  19. What a mess! The whole situation is not fair on anyone. I am the FOM for a hotel in WA; we are owed over $22 000 total from January 2013 to date! It has been horrible to have to contact the guests that have booked future stays to explain the situation. One lady abused Me because it was their wedding anniversary & they couldn’t afford to pay again, which I can understand. She has lost $600 – when I said we were owed over $22 000, she said ‘big deal you are a company & am a pensioner.’ Thanks lady, you really made my day……. 🙁

  20. This could be worse than it obviously appears on the surface. Apart from guests losing their deposits and the awkward situation of accomodation providers having to advise future guests their bookings can’t be honoured, there is also the Liquidation Law regarding preferential payments. Providers like me who were owed $2000 from February 2013 and pushed really hard and frequently to get paid (which was received late April) could be asked to repay the money because the law states that the Liquidator has the right to demand re-imbursement if in his/her opinion a provider has received an unfair advantage by being paid when others have missed out. The Liquidator can review all payments for the past 6 months.

    So stay tuned. It could get even uglier.

    As for the adverse comments on the Merchant Payment Model, I think there’s a chance an accomodation provider could go broke too. So even the direct payment model can be flawed. There is currently no model that protects guest deposits.
    Mark.

  21. I’m a traveller who paid my accommodation in full over 6 months ago. Today the manager of the hotel said I would have to pay again as apartment owner would not get his money. Surely an owner would have insurance for this type of thing.

  22. I’ve just been informed that PayPal won’t honour their Buyer Protection because I paid for my accommodation more than 45 days ago. Now it looks like I’ll be an unsecured creditor for these bastards AND have to scrape up the money to pay for my accommodation AGAIN. NOT HAPPY!!!

  23. The best option for travelers is to book direct with an accommodation provider that does NOT require prepayment. If you want to book with an online travel site, then http://www.booking.com is a great option. They don’t charge the customer and most hotels listed on this site will not ask for any payment until you arrive. When it comes to hotel accommodation, advance purchase rates are not always the best option.

    Meriton Serviced Apartments does not charge any direct bookings in advance and all rates and fully flexible if your plans change.

  24. I am a accommodation provider in Perth owed $15+k I think. We cut these clowns off a few months ago but have still got a bad debt that is gone basically.

    Re pre-paid bookings I feel terrible for these people and it’s possible their credit card company will cover it under the normal protection. If not we will make it up to the guest – it’s painful financially but it’s sure as hell not their fault they booked through check-in.com so we will wear it.

  25. Great Work Adrian Thompson – promote an overseas OTA, so all commissions move offshore. Makes me sick!

    1. Chris

      What Australian based OTA can you suggest that keeps 100% of its earning within Australia?

    2. Hi Chris, As far as I’m aware, there are no Australian OTA’s that have an agent model. They all use the merchant (pre-paid) model – and this is really what customers within our industry should avoid if they can. But if you are using one that does use the agent model – please let me know.

  26. Hi to all providers who are owed money by checkin. I have proxy vote forms for the creditors meeting. Has any group been organized, is anyone going to the meeting ? I am in Vic so obviously wont attend. Judging by the balance sheet there will be no money left over to pay suppliers or reimburse customers that have prepaid future bookings.

    Let me know if anyone is interested in my proxy vote

    Paul 0417545196

  27. I think it’s amazing that only 10 days were allotted for creditors to come forward. How about all the people still traveling? There would be loads of credit card claims still to come. The banks have to catch on?? Or will they be too late?

    Is this a matter for consumer affairs, department of trade, ASIC, today tonight or the ato?

  28. Martin,

    The date of your article is 21st May. On the ASIC website, Accommodation Clearing House has lodged it’s notice. It’s all over!

    You blinked!

    1. Sure, the application for voluntary liquidation was lodged on May 21. But please explain the basis of your statement that creditors were given just 10 days to come forward.

  29. The ASIC document details all lodgements made in the 10 period.

    Do you think that’s possible? I could not do it

  30. Does anybody else feel that the liquidators charging $550 an hour for the principal and $100 an hour for a bottom feeder clerk is a little over the top? The liquidators are estimating it will cost them nearly $140,000 to wind up the company…

    1. My thoughts are with the 13+ thousand guests who now lose their holiday.

      I can’t believe some of the hotels on the creditors list who are owed thousands. Very slack not to chase up outstanding accounts.

      As nothing will come of the liquidation, 140,000 is a bit rich. It doesn’t sound right.

    2. Scott, I noticed the charge rates too. I compared these to other liquidators and they actually seem to be lower than others in comparison. I guess that’s the industry?

  31. I cannot believe that the end user / customer is the unsecured creditor! It is the accommodation businesses and Check In who jumped into bed together to make a profit not the unsuspecting consumer who is left to foot the bill. There are no winners in this situation but the biggest loser is the CUSTOMER.

  32. Check-in.com.au was sold for 70,000
    Allied consolidated bought check-in for 35,000 and is getting the site ready to reopen. Some key staff have joined Allied. See website.
    Who is the silent owner of 50% remainder?
    The airport advertising is still showing.
    The liquidators were unable to stop the last Google adwords payment.

    Can some answer these questions?

    Business is business I suppose.

    1. Amanda, I can confirm that Allied Consolidated has bought 100% of the assets of Check-in.com.au for $35,000. They assume none of Check-in.comau’s liabilities or obligations. Don’t know about the other stuff.

      Martin Kelly, Publisher, TravelTrends.biz

  33. Good luck in getting suppliers trust back, a change is what they needed now time will tell if it was a smart aquisition. Either way, $35.000 is dirt cheap…

  34. I understand that Mr Simon Isaacs, the director of Accommodation Clearing House, as well as some of his key staff , is working for the new company.

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