I often get asked “is it cheaper to book on a website like Expedia, booking.com, wotif.com etc” as all these websites advertise the ‘best rate available’. The reality is that all websites should have the same rates as this is one of the essential contractual elements. All mainstream hotels will have systems in place to ensure that not one website has an advantage over the other. So the question you ask yourself is “what about the hotel website?” Should you book directly through the hotel website versus a third party website?
And here lies an intriguing question. Is there any advantage for the consumer to book direct with the Hotel or hotel website? I will always reply ‘Why go through a third party when you can deal direct’ – this is pure economics 101. Cut out the middle person even if it is for the purely simple reason of having direct communication.
Is there any savings for the consumer? Dealing directly one can always ask the property whereas booking through a website booking channel the price is the price and one cannot barter with the website! A big advantage is if you are travelling with a group or looking at staying for a number of days as often it will be in the properties interest to forward a discount – and I would encourage you to ask as nothing ventured nothing gained!
Finally one area that does often get overlooked are cancellations and specifically late cancellations. Through a third party you have to oblige and are at the mercy of the booking details and specifically the policies set in place at time of booking and we all know how tough the airlines are with late changes and cancellations. Dealing direct in many cases can afford you some leeway especially if you are just changing the dates or rebooking for another time. So dealing direct with the property can alleviate some hardship if a crisis was to emerge.
Please refer to my earlier blog about “Booking accommodation through a third party website can be fraught with pitfalls”