Since the economic slump that occurred in the last decade, price comparison sites have become hugely popular with people looking to secure the best deals on anything from insurance to game consoles, cars, flights, and even hotels now. There are also booking sites that claim to save you money and take the hassle out of having to search through hundreds of hotels separately.
However, does the fact that these sites are so popular actually mean they will always get you a better deal that suits your budget and needs, and do you actually get better deals than booking directly through a hotel? Based on my own experience and also something I read by the editors of the Good Hotel Guide, I believe you should book directly in most instances for two very good reasons.
The first reason why you are better going directly than through a comparison or booking site is because of the commission fees that hotels have to pay these sites. These fees inflate the costs and it is we, the customer who ends up paying the extra.
Better Deals When You Book Directly
The second reason is that in most instances, especially with small, non-chain, independent hotels, but true of most, you are more likely to get a good/better deal if you speak to the appropriate hotel staff directly.
Compare Like For Like
I do still believe comparison and booking sites have a place as you can use them as an introduction to what’s available in a particular location or at a particular hotel. When you are comparing hotels though, it is best to do it like for like, as it doesn’t make sense to compare a hotel with a spa and swimming pool to the little coal hotel with 50 rooms and no extras. Compare in terms of with or without breakfast and the additional taxes you may have to pay.
The problem is that with some booking agency sites, these extra details are not as clear as they could be. It is also vital to note that the cancellation policy of one hotel may and usually will be completely different from another place.
Choice of a Specific Room
Whereas if you use a booking agency or comparison site, you may only be able to book a particular room to benefit from their so-called deal; if you contact a hotel directly you will be able to negotiate a better deal and will obviously be able to try and book a specific room you liked from their website. Phoning the hotel directly is also particularly effective if you have looked at a booking site and have a competitive rate to use for haggling with them.
Hotels Actually Prefer Direct Bookings
Although hotels obviously like the extra coverage and advertising that being featured on booking and comparison sites gives them; they actually prefer customers to book directly. This is because, as mentioned before, they save money as they don’t have to pay the commission fees to a booking site.
Another good reason for booking directly is the fact that it often entitles you to a valued added deal. There have been many cases where I have personally come across hotels that offered free Wi-Fi, later check-out time or included breakfast in the price to customers who booked directly only/