Tips for booking a hotel online


The keys to your current elements of most effective hotel strategy are (1) using a good meta-search system to locate the best deal, and then (2) organizing the deal directly through the hotel’s website or its website. chain. For now, until they find an answer, buying through an online travel agency (OTA) is riskier.

Why metasearch? By now you’ve discovered that the best way to find a good deal wherever you go is to cast a wide net. This means using an online hotel search system or a phone hotel finder app, of which you will find dozens. But search engines come in two fundamentally different business models, and not everyone is clear on these fundamental differences:

– OTAs, such as and, not only search for deals, but also complete the actual booking transaction and charge your credit card. They are truly travel agents, and they earn substantial commissions or fees on every booking.

– Metasearch engines, such as TripAdvisor, Google, and Trivago, search for rates for individual hotels and OTAs, but they don’t complete the transaction. Instead, they put you in touch with a hotel or OTA to finalize the deal. They earn revenue by completing the link you select and selling a hotel and OTA friendly display position.

Direct booking has two advantages. Most importantly, when you book a hotel belonging to one of the giant multi-brand chains – Accor, Best Western, Choice, Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Wyndham – you generally won’t earn loyalty points unless you book . direct. In addition, several large chains, including Hilton and Marriott, limit “free” Internet access to customers who book directly and who also belong to their loyalty program: book through an OTA, lose your points and pay $ 10 per day or more for Wi-Fi. Direct booking may also offer minor discounts or other benefits. Also, my experience is that I usually get a better room when I book direct than when I go through an OTA.

The other reason to book direct is to avoid “it’s someone else’s fault†round trips when you have a problem or request a refund. When you look at consumer complaint websites, in disputes with an OTA hotel reservation, the OTA and the hotel usually blame each other. Obtaining a reasonable resolution can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible.

You should use the metasearch system with caution. In TripAdvisor, for example, your initial hotel search typically shows four results, often with identical prices. These four results may or may not include a direct booking option, but if you click “view all offers” the extended view usually includes a direct booking link. Use this option; you will then book directly with the hotel.

Sometimes an OTA can have a better price than the direct booking rate. If the difference is substantial, go for OTA, but recognize and accept the consequences.

Of course, sometimes you can find a much better rate thanks to Hotwire and Priceline’s opaque OTA options. If you are willing to accept a hotel chosen by the Opaque OTA, these offers can be interesting.

I am not entirely comfortable with my conclusion. Over the years, I have used Hotwire and extensively, with great results., in particular, has developed an exceptional search system. But if I’m staying somewhere I’ll probably consider a big chain hotel, the loyalty points and free Wi-Fi almost require me to book direct.

The main push for “direct bookings” so far has come from hotel chains. But airlines also want you to book direct, so you can avoid additional costs and be able to offer various upselling options. As far as I know, no major airline has yet said “book direct or no loyalty miles”, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it pop up, sooner rather than later.

At least for now, unless an OTA can offer a much better alternative, it’s best to book a hotel directly. And that may soon be true for airline tickets, too.

Email Ed Perkins at eper[email protected]. Also check out Ed’s new train travel website at


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