There’s a lot of talk about booking direct with a hotel. But as the popularity of online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Travelocity, and Booking.com grows, travelers are left wondering why they should book direct with hotels. Apart from OTAs’ great savings, why should travelers care to book direct with hotels anyways?
Hotels want travelers to book direct
The travel landscape is much different than it was 20 years ago. Today’s traveler has plenty of options for booking a room at a hotel no matter their destination.
Travelers may turn to one of the many OTAs available in search of a “better” deal for their stay. However, with some research on their intended hotel, travelers may end up with a much better deal when they book direct with the hotel instead of using a third-party service. Hotels are eager to compete for your business, and many places now offer valuable benefits when you book on their website or over the phone.
This ongoing competition lets travelers come out ahead with a variety of perks for independent and hotel chains alike.
So, why should travelers care about booking direct?
When you travel, you want to have your experience be as pleasant as possible, and hotels are willing to go the extra mile. Not only will you receive loyalty points when you go directly through the hotel for your stay, you may be able to leverage them for perks. You can receive even more valuable, intangible rewards as well. Opting to book direct may give you a more flexible cancellation policy, or even a free cancellation, plus early check-in/ late check-out.
Other direct booking benefits from hotels for travelers can include some of the following. Before booking, be sure to check out what kind of perks hotels are offering.
- Free treats at check-in or free breakfast
- Complimentary bottled water in your room
- Free or reduced-fee parking on-site
- Valuable dining vouchers or discounts
- Free wifi access
- Concierge services
- Complimentary or discounted use of pay amenities, such spas, gyms, or bike rental
- Free taxi or shuttle service
- Complimentary welcome dinner or drink
- Perks for certain credit card holders
Who wouldn’t want to partake in these perks? An OTA may be able to influence the price to get you to book but there’s little they can do to improve your stay.
Where are the best deals?
As a traveler, you’re concerned about the cost of your stay. And that’s a top reason you may initially want to book with an OTA versus booking direct. But if you look closer, the best deals may actually lie with the hotel. These properties want your business and many will offer to even match an OTA’s discounted rate. Just look for the offer on their website or call the hotel to find out if they have a best rate guarantee.
If you’re wondering where those extra fees may come from for an OTA, look closely at your cart. OTAs may charge added fees to process a booking or for special requests. Hotels, on the other hand, may waive cancellation, change, or booking fees, have a special on loyalty points and have booking discounts. Many OTAs may be able to price match but will not be able to give you loyalty points for a stay or honor a hotel promotion. This gives travelers another way to save big on the cost of travel.
How to book direct with a hotel
Another final benefit to consider is you may find special offers on the hotel website or by calling the front desk. For instance, a hotel could offer a free night for a 3 or 4-night stay, or an all-inclusive package with extra amenities. However, you’ll never know about these options unless you research the hotel, so your first online stop should be the hotel website. OTAs may be able to match hotels on price but deeper discounts offered by the hotel are usually not applicable to OTA’s pricing.
In this intense travel industry, travelers should always check with the hotel about the benefits offered when you book direct. You may be able to receive a significant discount and get other great perks.
How else do you convince travelers to book direct with your property? We want to hear your value propositions in the comments below or via Twitter.