Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Get the Best Room at the Best Price

It's amazing how making a hotel reservation as changed. It used to be you simply called the hotel or went to their website. Now there are many more choices and currently the trend is on-line booking.

Travelers are flocking to websites (we call them booking-engines) like Expedia,,, Orbitz, etc., because it is easy to book and easy to compare choices. As a consumer it is to your advantage to understand how these web sites work. In short, if you already know what hotel you want, it's better to call the property direct. If you are price shopping and only want the cheapest room, Expedia (and the like) are the way to go.

To be blunt (and skip all the details), hotels generally use the booking sites as dumping grounds for unsold rooms. They either pay extremely high commissions (up to 25%) for each reservation or sell off large blocks of rooms ahead of time. The end result is you may get a less expensive room, but your contract is with the booking site, not the hotel. That is an important difference. You may get a cheaper rate but you give up choices such as room location or room type. Many hotels keep the most desirable rooms to sell commission free to their regular customers.

My advice is to go to your favorite on-line booking site, check things out and decide where you want to stay. Book your room direct with the hotel or hotel web site.  If you found a cheaper room on-line, let them know. They will gladly match the rate and sell it to you commission free. When you book this way, your contract is with the hotel and not with a web site.

Want to know another little secret? There are really only a few of these on-line booking sites. Expedia, for example, owns, Trivago, Hotwire, Engencia, etc. They simply rearrange the data and call it something else.