With all the third party booking sites out there, it can be tempting to think that the best rates are found everywhere but a hotel’s official website.
In addition to the bigger sites like Expedia, Hotels.com, and Orbitz, there are also flash sale sites like Jetsetter that offer great deals.
But that doesn’t mean that third party sites are necessarily the way to go.
We talked to four insiders in the hotel industry: Andrew Flack, vice president of global marketing for Hilton; Michael O’Shaughnessy, manager of the New Hampshire Marriot property Wentworth By The Sea Hotel and Spa; Jennifer Goodman, manager of Independent Collection’s Capitol Hill Hotel; and Brett Krafft, manager of the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.
All four agreed that booking directly through the hotel is the smarter choice. Here’s why:
1. Hotels usually have the best rates — or if not, they will match the best rate you find.
According to O’Shaughnessy, any rate you find on a third party site, a hotel will have the same or better. “Nowadays hotels are booking on BAR (best available rate) and those rates are being adjusted daily, as opposed to years back when they were set in stone,” O’Shaughnessy says.
And both Goodman and Flack say that Independent Collection and Hilton hotels will match any publicly available rate that’s lower than the hotel’s — as long as it’s for the same accommodation. Hilton will even give guests an additional $US50 back.
2. You’ll receive amenities that you wouldn’t when booking through a third party site.
Flack and Krafft point out that when guests book through Hilton, they receive free internet, which they wouldn’t receive if booking through a third party site. And if guests are part of a hotel’s rewards program, Flack and Krafft say that’s even more reason to book through the hotel, since third party sites won’t offer them the additional benefits — like possible upgrades and being able to check in online — they will get from the hotel for being a member of the rewards program.
3. If you have any issues with your stay, the hotel will be able to fix them more efficiently.
According to Goodman, if guests aren’t satisfied with their experience, the hotel has more power to resolve any issues if that guest booked their room through the hotel.
“On the off chance that something happens and you’re just not happy with the stay, it’s also faster and easier for the hotel to take care of it for you,” Goodman says. “Say I wanted to give you 20% off, if you already payed through the third party, we have to contact them, they have to process it through their system; it’s a lot more convoluted process to book it through somebody else than to just do it right through us.”
4. You can make personalised requests or ask for upgrades.
Flack says that booking through a hotel’s website allows guests to let the hotel staff know what their travel style is like, as well as their preferences, which in turn gives the hotel staff a better chance at making a guest’s stay more enjoyable. Krafft also recommends letting hotel staff know when you’re booking a stay for a special occasion, as that can sometimes lead to upgrades.
Plus, O’Shaughnessy says, chances are, you’ll receive more information about the hotel when you book through their website.
5. It grants you more flexibility.
O’Shaughnessy says that if guests need to make a change to their reservation and they have booked through a third party site, it’s harder for the hotel to help them make that change.
“The other problem with booking through third parties is that you really don’t have an opportunity to be flexible once you make it, there’s not a huge amount of change we can make to the reservation,”O’Shaughnessy says. “It takes it out of the hotel’s hands a little bit.”
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