Why Booking Directly Saves You on Hotel Costs
Did you know that how you book your hotel room can make a major difference in the cost of your stay and the benefits you receive? Every time you book accommodations, you have the choice of using one of many online travel agencies or booking directly through the hotel’s website or reservations telephone line. While both the hotels and online travel agencies will each claim to have the lowest rates, there is a difference — and you can take advantage of this to find a better deal directly through a hotel.
3 Reasons Booking Directly Can Yield Bigger Savings
Popular online travel agencies might guarantee the lowest price, yet these offers can be so narrow and limited as to be meaningless. While there will always be web sites that will claim to offer the best deals on hotel rooms, you can often do better by going straight to the source. Here are several other ways that booking directly will actually allow you to save on hotel costs.
Get Rate Discounts Only Offered Directly
Online travel agencies often only offer guests a limited selection of room types and rate options. This is because online travel agencies will only guarantee rate parity (meaning they’re offering the same, consistent pricing as the hotel itself) on standard rooms with refundable rates, and all other potential deals are left unmentioned.
Because of this, travel site listings can exclude many of the discounted rates that hotels are able to offer directly such as discounted pre-paid rates, package offers that offer great value, and negotiated rates tied to companies, conferences and events. For example, a hotel might have a special rate for AAA members, or for guests visiting nearby corporations or attractions.
Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs
Booking your room through the hotel allows you to participate in its loyalty program, an option not available when you book your room through a third party. Joining a hotel loyalty program is free, and there are several benefits that are immediately available to guests when they do.
First, you can earn points towards a reward stay, and some programs even offer guests airline miles. Hotel loyalty programs will also offer members complimentary amenities. For example, the Marriott Rewards program offers all members free in-room Wi-Fi. And when guests earn elite status in a brand’s loyalty program, other benefits can include room upgrades, late checkouts and even free breakfast.
Additionally, most hotel loyalty programs also offer a co-branded hotel rewards credit card that allows you to earn even more rewards for your stay, and might offer entry-level elite status at the hotel immediately upon opening an account along with a faster track to an even higher level of status. You might even be able to use your hotel points to pay for all or part of your stay, but only by booking through the hotel’s reservation system.
In contrast, most hotels do not offer loyalty program points or benefits to guests who book through third party reservations systems.
Ask for Upgrades or Preferred Accommodations
Most importantly, booking a room directly with the hotel allows you to interact directly with its staff, who can tailor your stay to your preferences. When you book your room directly through the hotel, you are more likely to be guaranteed the exact type of room that meets your specifications, such as bed types, smoking preferences, and even the location within the hotel. For instance, many hotels’ websites offer ways for guests to specify a higher or lower floor, or a room close to or far from the elevator.
Booking your room directly means that the hotel itself is able to cut out the middle man, allowing it to offer you more benefits than it would have if you had used an online travel agent. This could mean that you are offered a more recently-renovated room, or that the staff is able to waive a fee upon request. You could even ask for a free upgrade, and unlike a travel site, the hotel would have the authority to offer you such a deal.