I find that with most people, they tend to stick to the most familiar or the tried and tested route. If you find that you have found great deals at a certain hotel booking website, chances are that you will return to that one without bothering to check with the competition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but you may not necessarily find the best deals that way.
Take for example flight prices. When a certain destination becomes popular or a certain search for a destination or travel date becomes frequently searched, the algorithm with the booking companies ensures that the prices start to rise. Fortunately this is not the case with hotel bookings. They remain more or less static, but the prices offered by different websites can vary dramatically. If you don’t believe me, try out this experiment for yourself. Take four popular hotel booking websites and check out average bookings for different dates that can range from a few days from when you are reading this, to a date months away.
You’ll notice that the prices can really differ. Many people think that popular websites like Hotels.com and Expedia.com may have slightly higher rates because of their immense popularity and dominance over this segment as people may not notice as they feel that a few dollars here and there is compensation for ensuring no hassles at a later stage, but you’d be surprised. At times, they offer the best deals and in fact, some newbies offer even better deals on 4 star hotels and higher. The newer hotel booking websites blew their competition straight out of the water with higher star hotels.
So you never know – a few more minutes of your time may ensure that you save a lot more on your stay provided you take the time out to research the prices on other websites.
I think that firstly, we must understand the way things work. There are a variety of rates offered by many hotels – prepaid, corporate, discounted, flexible and much more. Rates will fluctuate a bit due to demand, but they won’t have such extremes like airplane tickets. The Hotels sell their rooms to the booking sites at a discounted rate and this is the reason why you will probably notice that the rates are cheaper on the hotel booking website rather than the hotel’s own website.
These booking websites then add their own costs to make a final price which could include marketing, running of operations and more. Newer websites are relying on a word of mouth form of marketing which helps them to cut back on incidental mark ups like marketing which would otherwise have raised their prices.
Some hotel booking websites are great for a certain geographical locations while others could provide better pricing for higher class hotels while some may prove to be winners for 2 star hotels. Remember, if you are a hotel’s customer – which means that you book directly with the hotel’s website – you get various discounts and membership offers like hotel points or status for your stay. If you book with a third party website, you relinquish any rights to those privileges which is also why the deals with third party websites are cheaper.
So there are pros and cons with going both ways – you end up saving when you do your research with third party websites and more often than not, because of the fierce competition, they offer you irresistible deals that you definitely cannot get with booking directly with the hotel of your choice. However, if comfort and ease of travel is more important, then booking directly with the hotel excludes many of the hassles that could come with third part websites like refunds, early check in privileges and more. What you choose entirely depends upon you.