While many travel sites suggest you to book through a hotel search engine, you should consider booking directly with a hotel. Though it’s a good point to start researching your hotel and get an idea where to stay, you should quickly get in touch with these hotels to check on their direct rates. A direct hotel reservation reduces the hassle if anything goes wrong, better rates and better service.
1. Price match
Booking directly with a hotel often allows you to get better rates than with a 3rd party provider even when it seems that they offer the lowest price. Just contact the hotel and ask them for their best available rate; if you’ve found a cheaper price elsewhere, let them know where you found it – they’ll be more than happy to adjust the offer accordingly. Why? Because direct bookings are more profitable for hotels. Also, if you’re a member of the hotel’s reward program, even if you have only the basic member status, you’ll have a big advantage. Take for example Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee – if you will find a cheaper rate of the room within 24 hours of your reservation, they will not only match the rate but give you a further 25% discount. Another perk is getting a significantly cheaper room during the high season, for example, Christmas. Hotels and resorts trying their best to be fully booked at all times, but even during the peak season they have mostly a handful rooms available which are hard to sell.
Here’s a comparison between Booking.com, Hotels.com, Agoda and the hotel itself for a stay at a Superior Room at the Dusit Thani Bangkok from 23/11/2016 to 24/11/2016. First, the direct rate via their reservations site – 4125 THB / 4856 THB incl. service charge and tax (10% plus 7% on the final rate).
Next up Agoda – 5178.80 THB
Then Booking.com – also, 5178.80 THB:
And Hotels.com – 4400 THB / 5179 THB incl. service charge and taxes.
2. Extra benefits
Another benefit of booking direct with a hotel are the extra perks and service you will receive. Sorry to crush your dreams, but no, not every guest is treated the same (yeah, no hotel will admit that). The hotel staff can see at any time how you booked the hotel and based on that, makes the decision whether it’s useful to give you an upgrade for example. Generally, as a direct booker you have more flexibility over your room choice. Hotels value repeat guests, direct bookings and loyalty members over one-time bookings, simply because the latter doesn’t benefit the hotel. Also, in the unlucky event of an overbooking situation, the hotel will most likely ‘walk’ you first (speaking, you’ll be booked into another hotel).
Booking direct with a hotel allows you to have more freedom over changes of your booking as the relationship is only between you and the hotel. Say you have to shorten your stay suddenly it’s no big deal for the hotel to process your request immediately while you even may have the chance of a refund. When you book through a booking platform it’s not that easy, as you have to contact them first. Another classic example is a not processed reservation – imagine showing up at your hotel and your reservation is not there. You have to mail/call back and forth with the hotel booking site which eats your time and mood. Oh, and imagine the staff tells you that the hotel is full. Ah, that can be nasty!
Another tip – sign up for a few loyalty programs. Points and nights add up quickly, even if you don’t stay at a hotel; many hotel chains cooperate with major credit cards, thus, you’ll get points whenever you pay with your credit card. Hilton, for example, offers a Visa Signature Card which lets you earn 40.000 points after making only $1000 of purchases within the first four months.