Wander tribe let’s be honest, no one wants to over pay for anything am I correct? But are you truly getting the better deal when booking your travel with a third-party company such as Expedia, Orbitz and or Priceline?
COVID-19 has definitely shaken up the world, to include the travel industry and many individuals are having a hard time getting to speak to someone, let alone get their travel funds back from cancelled travel.
So let’s talk about it, let’s layout the pros and cons of booking your travel direct with an airline/hotel vs a third party company. So let’s start with third party companies.
Third party travel companies or Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are companies that sell you travel online. They act as a middleman between airlines/hotels and consumers, though their prices can often be cheaper than booking direct. Many of us are familiar with top OTAs like Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity. There are hundreds of smaller OTAs as well, and more pop up all the time. Some smaller ones include OneTravel, Vayama and eBookers. Some benefits of booking with an OTA include:
- Cheaper fares
- Price comparisons
- You can purchase multi-airline itineraries
- Discounts after a certain number of reservations
Cons of Third-Party Travel Sites
- Poor customer service
- Hard to change your reservation
- Additional costs tacked to the booking
- Many of the cheapest deals are non-refundable
- Unable to earn points through hotel loyalty programs
Personally, I do not care for third party sites. I haven’t used one since late 2012 because they did not provide me with all of the details. For example, I was planning a trip to North Carolina and used Hotels.com. I paid one price online, only when at checkout there was an additional fee of some kind. When I made a fuss at the counter, they mentioned that the site was notorious for not being 100% transparent and many of their guests that have booked with them have experienced this. That was the LAST time using a third-party site. But let’s not forget about how the COVID-19 really showed the hand of OTAs. Remember the site Bookit.com? Well Bookit.com was a OTA and it went out of business amid COVID-19 without refunding their customers! Thousands of travelers received an email stating “Your trip is now cancelled,” others travelers were stranded, while the company went belly up overnight.
Now let’s dig into booking direct shall we.
Booking direct means exactly what it sounds to be. This is simply securing a room/plane ticket via the hotels/airline’s website. Here are some of the pros and cons:
- Room & seat preference
- Best rate guarantee
- Loyalty program points
- Better customer service
- Free WI-FI and other amenities
- Can capitalize on co-branded credit cards
- They could cost more
So, tell me what would you decide on? Are you going to gamble and secure a flight/room with a third-party site? Or will you book directly in the future to maximize your travel dollars? Me personally I will continue to book direct to continue to receive free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and room preferences but I hope this breakdown assists you in making the best decision for your travel needs.
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