Who doesn’t want to travel and stay in a luxurious hotel and be pampered all day? Well, in today’s post we want to specifically look at a few tips that could help you out in saving a few Euros when booking.
We’re sure that you’ve seen ads or marketing banners on hotel websites that state the absolute best deal is to book directly with the hotel themselves. Well, you could, you might even get a few percent discounts by using their specified app or by calling a call center they indicate on their website and book over them. The incentives are usually nice, however, is this the only way to really make a killer saving? Some may say yes, others may say no.
The alternative? Well, you could use a an online travel agency (OTA), because they offer you a wider variety of choice and, they claim to offer a better price. You’ll hear booking.com or hotels.com or Trivago all yelling the same thing.
Now while it really depends, the question in the end that we want to answer is who really offers the better room for the best price?
Hotels, especially major chains, will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing to get you to stay at their hotels. And where else to book besides their own website or app? What do hotels do? They offer great incentives, like loyalty points for their programs if you book through their website or other means directly with them. On top of this hotels will also combine a variety of offerings to incentivize you to book directly with them, like unlimited internet access versus a free pass for a night and then charging you 15 Euros per GB if you book elsewhere. This combination of loyalty and program based marketing incentivizes you to purchase directly through them and receive member-only rates on their rooms. Often you’ll also find that hotels claim that booking through their website directly will give you the best price and they gaurantee that. How many people actually compare and then go complaining to the hotel for the difference of a few Euros if the claim does not hold true? Not that many people.
With that in mind, what hotels offer for direct booking is simple.
- Loyalty points in their respective membership programs,
- internet access and
- perhaps a great, member-only discount on particular rooms.
That being listed, from the perspective of a Hotels General Manager, those are great arguments for anyone to go ahead and book directly on the hotel website. However, is it really the best way to save money when booking?
Let’s look at it from the perspective of why. The reason hotels want you to book directly with them is down to the basics – cost. The financial advantage a hotel has when customers book directly is simply the money they save (and earn) when you direct book with them. Doing so allows them to keep all the money your paying them to themselves. Is that bad? Of course not. They save on commissions they pay out to OTAs and other agencies when you book over a third party. On top of this, the hotel can also upsell you on other services they may offer aside from just a “breakfast” addon. Many hotels, depending on region and chain will offer services like laundry, travel packages, or other “better accommodations” when you book directly on their website, incentivizing you to spend more. That myCiity friend is the gold pot for hotels. The reason why third parties per se are bad for hotels.
Let’s look at the other side of the story.
What comes to mind when you hear indirect booking? Logically, other websites then that of the hotel website itself. Sites like myCiity, booking.com or trivago. You see, while hotels claim that booking with them is the best because you get the best price, you get amazing deals like additional perks, and often you get extra membership reward points, online travel agencies claim to fame is primarily set out on the variety of choice. Now every site differs in terms of their offerings. myCiity consolidates from across the board, displaying you the best price we can find. So why book through our site? The variety of choice. You can immediately see, based on the criteria you set, all the available hotels, the places you can book them, the reviews, the ratings, the photos and much more. The huge amounts of choice are all yours. There is no points incentive. Its simply laying out a platter with different types of cheese and asking you to take whatever you want.
Now there is other incentives these OTA’s offer. For example, hotels.com will offer you a free night after every 10 paid nights through its own reward program. Expedia also rewards its customers with points. Orbitz has a similar offering and so on.
While some of these programs may be useful, the incentive to always book on that platform is not a given. You may find a great deal today and book a night on hotels.co, however, your trip next month may be cheaper on booking.com. Is the incentive strong enough to convince you to consistently book on the OTA website versus the hotels? That is the question. Would you rather pay 100 Euros booking on a comparison site or would you pay 120 Euros with the hotel and earn points, status upgrades and more?
This boils down to one thing, choice versus perks. The playing field definitely is not equal. Herein lies the problem for any traveler.
What to do?
The best of both worlds
Why not trade-off and plan accordingly. You are not always going to fly Lufthansa or Japan Airlines to get their respective miles unless you can, so the same should go with your booking a hotel room. Do a tradeoff. Stick with one or two hotel loyalty programs and then combine what those hotels offer versus what OTA websites display. See which deals suits you better and book that accordingly. Book directly if you feel the value of the perks versus what you pay is fair or save a few Euros and get the best price. This way you do not have to sacrifice anything. You can get the best of both – choice, points, perks, upgrades, price.
Yes, the negative side to this is that it just may take you a bit longer to receive a certain status with a hotel chain, but it just might be worth it.
So the secret to getting the best hotel deal is simply doing your homework and then choosing what offers you better value for your money (as they say in the U.S. – a better bang for your buck). That our dear friends is the secret. Or is it?
What are your thoughts about booking directly versus indirectly? Which do you fair better and find more suitable for travel? What is your strategy?
Let us know in the comments below. We’d love a thumbs up on this and a share!