Booking a hotel room used to be so easy! All you had to do was call the hotel and speak with the front desk and – voila – your room was ready. Then the Internet came along and booking online, directly with the hotel website, became a new option! However, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) decided they wanted a piece of the action, too. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term OTA, it includes sites like Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, and Booking.com. So what’s the difference between using an OTA to book your hotel room versus booking direct? There are actually a lot of benefits to booking a room directly through the hotel’s website and forgoing the third-party option, and we’re going to tell you why!
Have you ever noticed how pushy third-party sites can be? “Only two rooms left!” “Four people have booked this hotel in the last two hours.” “Ten people currently looking at this hotel.” Expedia claims if you ‘pay now’ your rate will be $XX, but if you pay at the hotel, they can only estimate what the rate will be. We aren’t sure what they are estimating, because the rate will be the same. Good work Expedia, your scare tactics work!
Of course every OTA claims they have the lowest rates out there. Websites like Kayak and Trivago even search hundreds of sites and gather the information for you, so you can compare rates to make sure you get the best deal. While their offer could be the best rate for an independent hotel, the same rules don’t necessarily apply to chain hotels. Thanks to a little something called rate parity, the third parties and franchises are contractually obligated to offer the same rate.
INSIDER TIP Recently, franchises have been able to offer their rewards members a lower rate when they book directly through the hotel’s website!
Speaking of rewards members, unless you book directly with the hotel, your rewards points aren’t being added to your account. Third-party sites don’t have an option to enter your rewards number, and therefore rewards members don’t get points for their stay. In order to receive upgrades or freebies upon arrival, the best option is to book directly with the hotel.
We’ve mentioned it here before, but it’s worth repeating. Hotels aren’t solely responsible for the content on all of the third-party websites that are out there. Because the hotels don’t directly provide the information that is on them, many times there can be inaccurate information that can lead to upsetting situations. “The OTA site told you what? No sir, I’m sorry we don’t have an indoor water park or a petting zoo.”
Have you ever booked a room through a third party and shown up to the hotel only to find out it’s not the room you thought you reserved? Every morning when rooms are being assigned for the day’s arrivals, priority goes to our rewards members first. Once again, we can’t tell a rewards member
from a non-rewards member when the guest doesn’t book direct. So everyone is assumed to be a non-rewards member and they get whatever room is left. You’re also more likely to get moved to another hotel if there’s a maintenance issue causing us to become short on rooms.
We’d be lying if we said that nothing ever goes wrong during a hotel stay. However, when something does go wrong, we want to make things better and many times this involves comping part or all of your stay. However, due to the complicated process of you paying the OTA and not the hotel directly, we have very little ability to do so. Since the OTA has your money and not us, we can’t just tell the OTA to give it back to you. Now for guests that have booked with the hotel directly, since we have your money, it is quicker and easier for us to offer you compensation for any problems that arise.
Issues can arise after your stay, as well. Guests are able to leave reviews through the OTA’s website. The guest may list the problems they had and ask to be contacted by the hotel’s management. Since the stay was booked through the OTA and not directly, we don’t have any of the guest’s information, room number or date of stay, and we are left with no way to contact the guest to make it right.
Like we said, OTA’s are a great time saver when it comes to being able to compare different hotels quickly and easily. Props to them! But are they worth missing out on upgrades, getting rewards points, being able to easily change your reservation and so on?
OUR BEST TIP Find the hotel you want to stay at and save yourself some hassle by booking direct. Either call the happy team member ready to answer your questions at the front desk or visit the hotel’s own website to book your next stay!
Benefits of Booking Direct
August 24, 2017
Easing Your Mind About Bed Bugs
July 27, 2017
The "Shocking" Truth About Chlorine
July 13, 2017
The Juicy Details Behind the Symbol of Hospitality
June 29, 2017
Choosing Your Perfect Hotel
June 15, 2017
Five Ways to Get a Great Hotel Deal
June 1, 2017
Behind the Scenes of an Early Check-in
May 18, 2017
Who is TMI Hospitality?
May 4, 2017