I learned a surprising way to save money on hotels when I travel that I think has escaped most. Book directly with the hotel, not one of the hotel reservation or booking platforms.
This piece of information came to me from the speaker at an event who just happened to be the manager of one of the world’s largest hotel chains. Here is how it works. The booking platforms such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com and Reservations.com have basically inserted themselves as the middleman between the hotels and their customers and they slice 25% off the top of every booking they make and they erode customer loyalty.
That’s a pretty serious chunk of change to lose, especially when you consider that before these platforms came into the picture people went directly to the hotel chain to book! The hotel booking platforms have done a great job of convincing us all that the best way to save on hotels is to use the platforms and apps. So good that few of us ever think to go directly to the hotel’s website anymore.
According to the speaker, hotels want customers to book directly with the hotel. His chain offers a lower price if you book through the hotel website and they also offer 5% cash back. The chain also offers the same kind of loyalty rewards you have come to expect from the booking platforms. Others offer similar incentives Another advantage is that if something does go wrong, you’ll find it a lot easier to resolve through the hotel itself than with the booking platform.
It’s good business for the hotels. They are giving you the lions share of the money the booking platforms slice off the top. In return, they hope to gain a customer that is loyal to the brand. It’s a little like going back to the future. The future is going back to doing business the way we did before technology disrupted it while still having the convenience of booking online.
After the seminar I tested it out. I went to some of the booking platforms and would pick a room from one of the recommendations that was the “great deal.” Then I went directly to the hotel website and checked the price for the same type room and days of travel.
In some cases there was little difference, but I often found significant savings. In one case the booking platform listed the room at $239 per night. On the hotel’s website the price was $209. That’s thirty bucks you can use to have more fun at your travel destination! If you travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure we’re talking a considerable amount of money back in your pocket.
I’m not saying the hotel booking platforms are all bad. They make a handy tool for discovering what hotels are available in the destination you are traveling to. But once you have narrowed it down to a couple choices, go directly to the hotel’s website and see if you get a better deal!
A caution, be sure to make sure you have actually arrived at the hotel’s website. Twice I found I was at another booking platform’s website that was masquerading as the hotel! Like I said, the platforms are very good at inserting themselves between the hotels and their clients.