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Travel Sites or Travel Agent or Book Reservations Direct?

Updated on September 5, 2010

Real Reviews Before You Travel

Link: Trip Advisor

This is my favorite Travel Site because it allows me to read reviews written by people who have stayed at the Hotels I am considering. Every time I travel I visit them first to be sure I'm not making a mistake.

Do you know that many Hotels post pictures that look great, but are actually very old. And when you get to the Hotel you are sorely disappointed that the place doesn't look like what the pictures do.

Ways to Book Travel for Your Best Deal

You’ve probably done it in the past year – gone online to try and find a Travel Deal? And you want the Best Website to book travel right? Because you want the lowest price or the best deal right? But what is the best deal? How do you feel if you make your Hotel Reservation Online only to find out later it would have been just as cheap or cheaper to use a Travel Agent or Book Direct?

So What is the Best Way to Book Travel? Should You Choose a Well Known Travel Site Like Expedia?

Booking Online is convenient. Do doubt about that. You simply start searching the Travel Sites online for your desired destination and you compare the rates right? Sure, that is in fact what most people do. But how do you know if you are getting the best deal? And how do you know what kind of Hotel Room you’ll be staying in? Can you easily upgrade to a better room?

Most Online Booking is done through sites like Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, etc. These companies are what is known in the Travel Industry as “Consolidators”. And here is basically what they do. A Travel Consolidator makes contractual agreements with Hotel Chains to purchase blocks of rooms at negotiated prices. The guarantees the Hotel specific revenue amount even if the rooms are not sold. In short they are brokers. The Travel Consolidator then offers these rooms for sale at a higher price and pockets the profit. This lowers the risk for the Hotel Chain. This increases the Consolidators incentive to charge as much as they can to increase profits. And it's all about the profit!

The Travel Consolidator will try to bundle as many services from different vendors as possible. The money is in the Bundle Deals because it is where they can hide the true and actual costs. It’s often very difficult to unwrap a package deal to see where the money is going.

Is this bad for the Traveler? It depends. There is a lot to be said for the pure convenience of being able to book everything at once and have a single charge on your credit card. In certain cities like Las Vegas where I am you may find that Hotels are sold out on some dates and the only way to get a room is to book through one of the Consolidators. The very fact they have available rooms while the Hotel is otherwise books solid could work to your advantage. My recommendation is you should check prices on these sites so you’ll know if you are in the “BallPark”.

Should You Choose to Book Direct with a Hotel Chain or Hotel?

This might actually be the best way to ensure you get exactly what you want. You can make requests – certain side of the building, not buy an elevator, only non-smoking, etc. Those options may not be available through a Consolidator Website.

One trick to use, especially in light of today’s cheap long distance is to simply call the Hotel Desk Direct. Bypass the 800 Number. Many 800 numbers ring to reservations agents while the direct number will always go to the Hotel. You may learn about promotions the onsite manager is making that the reservations agents do not have access too. And you can always inquire, thank, then try the reservations agent. Your goal is to find the best price that includes the services and amenities you require. Afterall isn’t that really how you get the best deal? A cheap room that doesn’t meet your other requirements isn’t really a deal at all!

Should You Choose to Book Through a Travel Agent?

Maybe. This depends on the track record of the Agent. An experienced Agent can make your Vacation 100 times better if they really know there stuff. They can steer you clear of the bad Hotels and towards the good ones. If you have never been to your destination their advice (If they truly are experienced) can be Godsend. Imagine booking your vacation online and thinking that all would be great because the pictures on the Hotel Site or the Consolidators Site look so inviting. But when you check into the place you realize that it is not as advertised. A Travel Agent’s advice may have saved you. However if the Travel Agent is disingenuous then you may be in the same position.

The Bottom line is you should really take advantage of all 3 methods. Start with the Consolidators. See what kind of Deal you can get. Then move on to the Hotel… get your best rate. And when you have done both of those you can contact a Travel Agent.

Then you can make an educated decision that will really improve your chances of a quality Trip.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the telephone and let the people on the other end do a little work. You can’t get a good deal if you don’t make the right choices. You are not wasting their time, any good reservations agent will not feel slighted if you do not book with them. Travel is a competitive business and it’s part of the game. And if they are any good at what they do and can offer you the right package then it’s win/win for all.

Happy Traveling.

Booking Travel

Got the Travel Bug? Figuring Out "How To" find your best travel deal can be confusing at times. One Destination, but so many paths and options to get there.
Got the Travel Bug? Figuring Out "How To" find your best travel deal can be confusing at times. One Destination, but so many paths and options to get there.


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