After some recent ‘bad’ press regarding travel/ accommodation fraud I wanted to put something in my blog about booking direct. #Bookdirect at The Hive at 52
Why book direct with a hotel or B&B and not via an online travel agency, such as Booking.com, Expedia or Hotels.com. The Daily Mail published an interesting article back in 2019 about it, click this link #bookdirect
Now, to answer the big misconception about all the other online travel agencies that advertise they have the lowest rates. ALL BRANDED HOTEL chains REQUIRE all online travel agencies, such as Booking.com, Expedia or Hotels.com and the thousands of others to MAINTAIN RATE PARITY, with their own branded web site.
This means, for example, Booking.com cannot advertise a rate on their web site that is less expensive that what is available on our web site. Likewise, we cannot advertise a rate that is less than the OTA’s. This is what rate parity is. Believe me, both sides of the fence watch this very carefully and will send emails to either the hotel or corporate if there is a discrepancy.
Yes, occasionally it does happen, but it’s a glitch when systems don’t stay in sync, or it’s an OTA where the individual hotel has an “extranet” where they maintain the inventory and rates separately from the hotel’s chain. For example, a branded hotel could have an agreement with say ‘Booking.com’ where they will take a commission on every room sold if the hotel will maintain the inventory and rates directly. What can happen is the B&B may change rates through their property management system which updates their corporate website, which in turns updates all the OTA’s, unless the hotel has an extranet. If the B&B owner gets distracted they may not get the extranet updated with the same rates, thus throwing them out of rate parity. Generally this gets caught quickly, but that is not to say that someone couldn’t book a room for less until it does.
Pro’s & Cons
Now the advantages and disadvantages. Let me ask you, who do you think is going to know more about the hotel you want to book at then the people that actually work there? Or do you think some call center, is going to know more about the hotel?
Same goes if you want a special room, need to be on ground floor, or away from the elevator or stairs, or are celebrating an anniversary or special event, do you think someone at an online travel agency will help you?
Who do you think is going to help you more if something comes up such as a flight delay, or vehicle breakdown, or family emergency, and you need to cancel or change your dates? The staff at the hotel are going to be more accommodating if you had booked directly with their hotel instead of a travel agency.
So given that all OTA’s and branded websites have to maintain the same rates, I’d go with the hotel every time. Use the OTA’s when you are searching for a hotel where you are traveling to, just to find who is closest to where I want to be, and who has the best amenities and price out of the hotels available. THEN, call and book direct with the hotel once I’ve decided on which hotel. PLUS the hotel may be more agreeable to negotiating the rate if you book direct since they don’t have to pay up to a 25% commission if you booked it online.
As a small business owner I except that we need OTA’s as they have a huge platform and/ or exposure worldwide however think before you book via them, book direct with the small independent B&B. It might save you some money and it will definitely safe the business owner. #bookdirect
So remember #Bookdirect at The Hive at 52