The benefits of booking flights and accommodation directly

Here’s why you should always book your travel arrangements directly.

Woman is handed a hotel room card after booking directly

There’s no doubt sites such as Booking.com and Expedia have changed the travel landscape – arguably for the better but whether or not you should book through these sites is another issue altogether. 

The obvious benefits of these sites is that they allow you to search and compare cheap flights, hotels, cars and other travel arrangements from a range of providers in the one place. But when it comes to actually booking the arrangements, we would argue you are often better off to go directly to the hotel or airline. 

Here’s why: Not only does booking directly cut out the middle man, but also the fewer the parties involved, the easier bookings become. And if something goes wrong, or you need to make changes to your booking, you can deal directly with the hotel or airline. If you’ve booked through a site such as Booking.com or Expedia, you have to deal with them, as technically they ‘own’ the booking. This slows down the entire process while they to and fro between the airline or hotel and you – a privilege for which you will usually end up paying, in the form of its fee, in addition to any change or cancellation fee charged by the service provider. 

Hotels and airlines usually have to pay commission to such sites for your booking, something they would obviously prefer not to do, and don’t have to, if you book through them directly. Many hotels are happy to price-match for this reason and will even offer incentives for customers to go direct through them, such as a bottle of champagne or wine on arrival. 

The other point worth mentioning is that most booking sites only have a certain allocation of rooms in hotels or seats on flights and, once this is exhausted, they will tell you this alternative is booked out or not display this as an option at all. By checking the hotel or airline website directly, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out there is indeed still space left. This happened to me recently while trying to book my Morocco accommodation. According to Booking.com the Riad I had chosen was booked out, but upon checking its website, I found they still had rooms left and at a cheaper rate, with the added bonus of a free 30-minute massage thrown in. 

Moral of the story? When it comes to booking travel arrangements, cutting out the middle man and going direct does pay off. Because who couldn’t use a free massage?

Have you had any experience with booking travel arrangements through a third-party site versus booking directly? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.

A regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices, SJ’s plane essentials include noise cancelling headphones, a solid Spotify playlist, sleeping tablets, an eyemask and a large scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights.

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    COMMENTS

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    Jane
    30th Jan 2016
    9:02am
    I recently made a booking to Fiji for myself and family through Expedia. They were really polite and pleasant and gave seat allocation . I had a dietry request. Come departure time our seats were not what we had booked, we were not together on the flight and my special diet was not available as it had to be booked the day before with the airlines and this was not done. Even though the meal came with the flight, I was not provided with a meal as they had nothing left [not even 1 spare meal]. We booked the tickets some weeks in advance. When going to the Expedia site after booking as advised by Expedia I was not able to select my dietry request. The site clearly showed what could be selected but I could not select.
    Anonymous
    30th Jan 2016
    4:35pm
    Always used Expedia never had a problem until the last time I booked was in Cancun couldn't have been further away arrived at the resort they hadn"t heard of me until I mentioned expedia which is under another name in Mexico they just had not sent the details to the resort.
    So don"t use expedia anymore. Plenty of other booking services
    Mamashaz
    30th Jan 2016
    9:57am
    I find that making overseas accomodation booking best through a booking site. No problems with this yet. Emailing the overseas site hasn't got me anywhere and they want payment in local currency. Within Australia I check what I can get on a booking site and check the accomodation directly. I sometimes have it price matched and get exactly what I want or have gotten a better deal, but not always. Flights have always been better going directly to the airline, but use a site to check out what airlines are available first. I also have special dietary needs so take my own as I can rarely get what I want. For the first time in many years my best choice included a meal that turned out to be unsuitable. Flight staff explained that to get my type of very plain meal I needed a doctors certificate to be lodged with them before hand. I'm gluten intolerant and low fodmap in case you're wondering. I have a medical diagnosis and was advised on my diet by my dietician. It works for me, so if it ain't broke I'm not fixing it - no advice on diet required. Have a cheery read. This is my first post, so be nice.
    SuziJ
    31st Jan 2016
    11:11pm
    In 2013, I did all my bookings thru the Travelodge UK website and used a Prepaid Multi-currency Visa card. (ANZ, Virgin, QANTAS have your name on them, but there are other ones you can get from any bank - check them out).

    We settled our itinerary and then I transferred the funds into my Visa cash card and then was ready to do all the bookings. Did it in 3 transactions. When booking, see if they have a cheaper rate of internet for a longer period. Eg GBP3 per night or GBP35 for a month.

    They replied to me almost immediately with my booking reservation numbers, wi-fi codes and receipts. Then we were ready to go on our holiday.

    Where there weren't any Travelodges in the locations we wanted to go to, then Booking.com came in very handy. Got some good deals.

    30th Jan 2016
    10:33am
    Also, be warned about using Webjet for your flight booking. Check out the passenger review comments on Google. It's not all "beer and skittles" with them, either. Caveat emptor.
    Anonymous
    30th Jan 2016
    4:37pm
    Yes I tried to book with them their websight is terrible.
    red
    30th Jan 2016
    1:38pm
    I tried booking directly in Kuta to ask the hotel to price match, they told me I couldn't, but suggested I use the free wifi in their lobby to book and it was instantly accepted. So I got the cheaper price. Note though, I was actually in Kuta at the time needing a short add on before I got my flight
    Fran
    30th Jan 2016
    2:55pm
    I guess its a case of some you win and some you loose.
    At Xmas I chose to have a break at a Brisbane 5 star hotel (of which I am a member) booked direct through the hotel, and requested a special pillow and blanket not doona (see other story in this page to-day).
    Got to the Hotel, my room was not as stated, the pillow was not as requested, and with a Doona on the bed - they say there was no request for same - of course the email I had from them OK this, was sitting at home on the PC!!
    So to cut a long story short I should have booked through Hotels.com!!!
    Anonymous
    30th Jan 2016
    8:55pm
    should have printed the email and taken it with you Dizzy
    vinradio
    22nd Dec 2016
    2:45pm
    Fran, didn't they have the internet at the hotel, or was it in a word document, or not in your emails?
    Greg
    30th Jan 2016
    11:19pm
    My job means I'm on the road all the time...I use Booking.com and Wotif to see what's available (price, ratings etc), then go to the motel's own website where often the price is lower. One good thing with Booking.com is most times the room you book can be cancelled at short notice without penalty - try doing it on many motel websites and they have charged your account and wont refund.
    Fran
    31st Jan 2016
    11:33am
    Yes Trood,
    I am still kicking myself for not doing so, however as a loyal customer etc etc., it did not cross my mind as being needed!!
    SuziJ
    31st Jan 2016
    10:56pm
    If you can get into a local travel agent, and want the internet prices, get them to match the prices, and use your own funds when paying for the flights. There is 'usually' no booking fee of $39 each ($78 for 2), or any charge for using your own funds. Did this in 2013, and saved over $400.


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