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.