I’m travelling to England this summer and want to book a room at a smallish non-chain hotel with no loyalty program. I’ve never used an online travel agent like Booking.com or Expedia, but I noticed that the hotel I’m thinking about is charging significantly more when a book direct than it would if I book online.
Do others have experience booking non-chain/non-loyalty program hotels? I’m wondering whether I’ll likely get a worse room or worse service if I book the hotel room thru an OTA like Booking.com or Expedia?
You should be just fine. You could try emailing them, and ask if they’d like to match the OTA rate directly. I’ve used OTAs a few times, though I generally try to book direct. It’s a little unusual to find much of a discrepancy in pricing. One thing to think about is that if you have any problems, need to change or cancel, dealing with an OTA can be more difficult.
I normally book via Expedia (and then use the resulting points to get nice holiday options) and have never had an issue. Many Expedia options allow free cancellations - and I have found Expedia staff happy to try to get me a free cancellation if I call and give a good reason in the cases where that is not automatically available.
I (mostly) book chain hotels directly and have used booking.com (increasingly, and more recently) and hotel.com (earlier) for booking non-chain hotels and apartments.
I had pretty good experience with booking.com in Italy last year. They often provide specific descriptions on the rooms and type of booking you can get by room that I find helpful. I do tend to stick to properties with lots of recent reviews. Overall, the reviews are legit.
That said, if you book directly with the property, it does put a bit more money in the hotelier’s pocket.
OTA’s usually charge hotels above 25% commission. You can get much better perks booking direct or working with a travel adviser. OTA’s are a necessity in the business but definitely frowned upon by hotels compared to booking direct.
My understanding, perhaps wrong, is that if you need something done - a change, a cancellation, etc. - and you’ve booked through an OTA rather than directly, you’re likely to be met with resistance or more difficulty.
I was booking a lot of hotel time via Expedia for a while and they would always reach out on my behalf to the hotel to negotiate a no-fee cancellation etc -not always successfully but they would call while I was on the phone with them.
Booking.com has been my go to online travel agency when I have to book a paid rate (rather than using my points). I’ve found the rates to be less expensive than some of the others. Many rates let you cancel without charge.
But, are you likely to get a lesser room in the same category using booking.com if there’s a high demand for rooms in that category? As I mentioned in the OP, the hotel i’m thinking about is a non-chain place on the small side.
I’ve booked both ways and prefer booking direct with the hotel. My biggest complaint using non direct web sites is the continuing emails for deals for locations I’ve already booked as well as offers for locations I haven’t been to for years and never likely to return. Once used they hard are to get rid of, at least for me.
Just booked my latest business trip via Expedia. Going to Warsaw for first time and so had no idea where I wanted to stay. Expedia’s ratings have always been pretty reliable and the verified customer reviews useful to scan for an overall impression. Booking a package got me an acceptable flight and a room at the five star Sofitel on edge of Old Town for a very good price I could not match otherwise - esp booking only 7 days out. I also get a good number of points that I’ll use for my next personal vacation - and many of my favorite relaxation spots give double credit for those points (Loews Coronado, etc).