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5 Reasons Not To Book Hotels Using Expedia, Hotels.com or Hotwire
Booking Hotel Rooms Online
The advent of online booking intermediaries has revolutionized the hotel industry. Companies like Expedia, Hotels.com or Hotwire are essential to the success of any hotel because they draw in so much clientele. At a glance, the arrangement between the hotels, customers and intermediaries works quite well. The customer gets to buy a hotel room at a cheaper rate than if they booked directly with the hotel, the intermediary gets to take a certain percentage of the bill while the hotel gets a new way to attract clients and increase their business.
Having worked in the hotel industry, i feel that i need to debunk this myth. The only winner in this case is the intermediary that pockets their percentage. The hotel is forced to accept clientele that is generally not within its target market and online bookings like Expedia leave the hotel open to fraud. The customer does usually get a slight discount on the rate, but not enough to warrant the hassle and horrible customer service that accompanies these intermediaries. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should never book with these intermediaries:
1. There Are Virtually No Cost Savings
You may think that by booking with an intermediary you are saving money, but you are dead wrong. The standard policy in hotels is to keep "rate integrity", meaning that all of its sales points charge roughly the same rate to the end user that actually stays in the hotel. The intermediary will make a killing because the hotel is forced to sell them rooms at a discount (20-50%), while you as the end user will have to cover the difference because the intermediary is making money.
2. Good Luck Changing Your Reservation
If you book with a hotel it is fairly easy to change your reservation. You can call the hotel and most of the time (unless you're past the change/cancellation policy) you can get your reservation sorted. If you book with an intermediary, you can forget all about that. You will need to call their customer service, which is a hit and miss process. Most intermediaries have outsourced their customer service department, meaning that you will have to deal with low paid Third World workers who may have English as their 2nd,,3rd or 4th language. You can still get your reservation changed, but it is guaranteed to be a hassle.
3. Poor Customer Service
As mentioned above in point number 2, most intermediaries have outsourced their customer service departments, meaning that your standard of service is bound to suffer. Their agents are usually low paid, highly educated individuals from the third world that should be working in much more productive jobs but are hampered by local economic conditions. Thus, the lack of motivation and morale makes for a sub-standard customer service experience. From personal experience, it is very common to be shuttled between departments before someone even understands your problem.
4. You Will Get The Worst Rooms In The Hotel
Hotels assign their rooms on the basis of rate, meaning that the more you pay, the better of a room you will get. If you booked with an intermediary, your room will be assigned last, usually to a low or un-renovated floor. In addition, when hotels need to balance their inventory, they provide complimentary upgrades to certain reservations, which are also determined on the basis of what rate you have paid. The worst thing about the situation is that you are actually paying almost the same rate as most other people, as the intermediary pockets the difference between what they pay the hotel and charge you. However,in the hotels eye's, your rate is equal to the intermediary's discount rate, no how much you actually forked out.
5. No Perks At Hotels
To close on the last point, you will most often not get any of the perks that are included in a stay at a hotel. Priority is given to guests that pay a higher rate, and perks that are in limited supply (concierge service, transport to/from airport, room upgrades, access to business centers) may not be extended to guests paying through an online intermediary. It doesn't sound very fair, but if a hotel has a limited supply of such services, they will prioritize them according to rate, and as the hotel only gets 50-70% of what you paid, you will be far down the priority line.
Book With A Hotel
To summarize, you are best off booking directly with a hotel. Alternatively, you can also book with a travel agent, but you are best off doing your own hotel bookings. You will not find as good of a deal as you would if you booked directly with a hotel, because they usually offer a multitude of packages/services, something that no intermediary can match.