Third-party booking sites such as Kayak and Expedia are businesses that offer deals to consumers by buying up empty rooms in hotels and empty seats on airplanes. Hotels and airlines lose money on empty rooms and seats, and it is in their interest to keep those full. Third-party booking sites offer to help fill in those gaps. You might think this is a win/win partnership–rooms and seats are full and customers are happy–but there are things you should know. Third party sites might offer a convenient place to book your trip, but they do have their drawbacks.
Positive Reasons To Use Third Party Sites
It is not all doom and gloom when you use third-party booking sites. Here are the pros of a third party booking site and what they have to offer:
- Lower prices on hotel rooms and airline tickets.
- Allows you to easily compare different options.
- Easy to use.
A lower price, easy to compare options and ease of use are the three main supporting characteristics for using third party sites. But how exactly does that equal a better option than booking directly?
Everyone wants to save money while they are on a trip. The less spent on a room or airline ticket, the more money you have for other things such as tours, shopping and more. So it’s in your best interest to find the best price possible. Third-party booking sites offer that. They have the purchasing power to create discounts for their customers. By purchasing blocks of rooms every day, they can push the prices down for you.
Everyone has different tastes and requirements, so having a single place to compare hotels and airlines is often a big plus with consumers. Many third party booking sites offer an easy way to compare different hotels and airlines.
On many hotel booking sites, rooms are rated by stars and by location. So if you need a hotel close to a venue or attraction, it’s easy to find something to your liking. Third-party booking sites also make it easy to compare prices and stops on airlines. You may not mind a long flight or you may want to break up your flight into a few short layovers.
Easy To Use
Not everyone is an expert in navigating the ins and outs of travel, so most third party booking sites are very easy to use. They offer separate searches for hotels, airlines, and even car rentals that start with either your hometown or your destination. Everything is packaged in a neat format so you can find what you are looking for right away. They are even helpful enough to suggest options such as car rentals and restaurant recommendations.
For most people, these sound like very good options. If a site is easy to use, offers better prices and allows you to compare your options, things should be great; however, third party booking sites do have some drawbacks that users should be aware of.
Drawbacks Of Not Booking Directly
The saying that if it sounds too good to be true, usually means it isn’t, definitely corresponds to the use of third party booking sites. It is not always recommended to use third party booking sites. Some of the biggest complaints are:
- Poor room placing
- No perks
- Billing or booking issues
- Less flexibility
- Same pricing
These might not be a deal breaker for some people, but for many, it might sour the trip or cost the consumer more than they expect. The pros are explained in more detail below.
Because many hotel chains feel as though they are being strong armed by third party booking sites to provide rooms, many that are given to the people who use those sites are given smaller, less desirable rooms. If you were expecting a room with a view, more than likely you’ll be looking at the parking lot or a brick wall. Rooms booked through the hotel are given preferential treatment.
If you were expecting to use your hotel rewards but booked through a third party site, you are out of luck. Because you didn’t book through the hotel, you will not receive rewards nor be able to use your perks. By booking through a third party booking site, you forfeit your right to rewards to them.
Billing Or Booking Issues
While most people have no issues with trips booked through a third party site, some have experienced, on occasion, reservations being canceled without notification. This leaves the consumer angry at the hotel and at the site. The hotel may be able to work with you and find a room but it’s no guarantee. You will probably end up paying a higher price.
Another complaint that is common with third party booking sites is billing issues. If you book through a third party site, your reservation could be changed without notice. This could leave you paying extra because the third party site doesn’t issue immediate refunds if your booking has been changed.
While third party booking sites offer some great comparison tools, once you have purchased your reservations, they are pretty much locked in. If you would like to change your plans or even cancel them, you will have to either pay out of pocket (if your change is last minute) or wait a great deal of time for a refund if you are able to cancel. Sometimes you will have to fight with the booking site even if the error or cancellation was on their end.
Better Deals From The Vendor
While third party sites do offer many low-cost deals, they may not offer the BEST deal. Hotels will often price match even a third party site’s quote. Airlines will offer lower prices on popular flights. With the perks and other rewards, this makes booking through the hotel or airline a much better deal for the consumer.
For many people, saving money on their trip is essential. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, getting the best price on rooms and airline tickets allows them to feel as though they’ve beaten the system, but they may not realize the drawbacks of using a third party site. While many people do not have any issues, those that do will never forget.
Research And Get The Best Deal Possible
Experienced travelers use third party sites to compare prices then call the hotels and airlines to see if they can price match. This often works as a better solution for many consumers.
If you are traveling you want the best possible price for your hotel or airfare. However, unless you have time to search out the best deals, you might find that third party booking sites claim to offer lower prices. Using a third party site might seem like a good idea, but they do not offer many of the rewards and perks that booking through the hotel or airline might offer. If you aren’t looking for a room with a view or are able to cover the cost of a trip if your reservations are canceled, third party booking sites could be right for you.
Overall, hotels and airlines don’t mind price comparisons, it keeps the market competitive. However, if you want the best price, service and best room, speak with the hotel, they could offer you a much better deal that matches what you find on a third party site.