Journalism is a competitive profession.  Getting the story first and getting it right is crucial to long-term success. You write that story, you own that story. Then. Now. Always. So imagine my surprise when, searching Google for stories on Check-in.com.au (and to see how mine ranked), I stumbled upon a story that seemed very familiar in Backpacker Trade News. It closely resembled something I’d written the previous day.

In fact, it is word for word in parts, while citing “sources” that appear to be based on comments made by anonymous users on TravelTrends.biz.

Here are the first few pars of my “exclusive” story published on May 21:

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 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.

Here is the Backpacker Trade News story with Hugh Radojev’s by-line published a day later on May 22.

Popular Australian accommodation website, which claimed to have handled over a million bookings since being founded in 2002, yesterday went into liquidation and is no longer accepting bookings.

An email sent to the industry said there will 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.”

Operators are reportedly calling arriving guests to advise they will not be accepting booking from this booking agent and therefore it is affecting the customer who has purchased and paid for accommodation.

A further statement in the email said that all those looking for a refund should “submit a claim to their credit card provider,” or failing that contact the liquidator, Holzman Associates for “further assistance.”

As of now the company’s website is still up and running and is showing no sign of Checkin’s fiscal problems, up until the point where users attempt to actually make a booking, where the final page says the “website is undergoing maintenance and not processing reservations”.

It is also being said by some sources that the company’s managing director Simon Isaacs is attempting to start up his business again, under another name. Apparently, the NSW Small Business Commissioner has spoken with Fair Trading and the ACCC about this issue and is assuring they will do everything to stop this happening.

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 it is being thought that the high costs of running search engines may have been the main contributing factor behind to company’s fiscal woes.

Coincidence? I’ve put that question to Mr Radojev and his editor and will happily run any comment they may have.

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