There is no doubting the fact that online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, and Hotels.com are convenient. You can book all of your travel from one spot, and search through various companies to find a competitive rate. But to find the best deals these days, they’re not where you should be looking. By dealing directly with the airline, hotel, or rental car company you’re going to save significantly more.
Why? Well, these online travel agencies (OTAs) are charging a fee, often up to 15% to hotels, airlines, and car companies. Companies are sick and tired of it, and in many cases, would rather deal directly with the customers and pass the savings along to them in the form of lower rates, free upgrades, and free food & drink credits.
So think about it this way. If Embassy Suites is getting nailed by a 15% fee from Hotels.com, they’re very likely undercut them and offer you a 10% discount for booking directly. So in effective you’ll get a rate 10% lower than what any OTA can give.
The methods of reaching hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies directly is as simple as calling the front desk of a hotel, the corporate phone number of a rental car agency, or the customer service number of the airline. Also, keep in mind, that most of their websites now have “Live Chat” operators standing by who can offer you a good deal as well.
I recently wrote about this on Lifehacker and some of the comments provided some great insight as well.
“Yeah, I was very annoyed last month when I thought a scored a great deal on the Doubletree via Hotwire, only to find out my friend got the exact same rate via Doubltree’s website (and got points for the stay where I did not).”
From a hotel manager, “If you want the best deal, go online and find what the OTA has listed for the price. Then call the hotel and speak to the front desk manager or general manager and tell them you found a $100 rate on Expedia, and will book directly with the hotel for $80.”
“Most hotel chains offer a lowest price guarantee if you book directly so if you find an advertised price cheaper for the same room they will meet or beat it. Plus you get rewards points for booking directly whereas you typically don’t get them if you book through a 3rd party.”
Ask the Reader: Have you booked directly with hotels or airlines recently? If so, tell me what kind of a deal you scored.
By Kyle James
Photo by Curi Media