Travel sites or direct booking: Which is really the cheapest hotel option?
Everyone loves to travel, but no one likes to overpay for a hotel stay. Ever since hotels began creating websites in the 1990s, consumers have been empowered to scour the internet for deals. For most people, the choice comes down to being loyal to a hotel brand or being flexible enough to get the most benefit out of a travel site.
Hotel Loyalty Programs Help Grow Savings
If you like a particular hotel brand, such as Hilton, Marriot or any other major chain, you can join their loyalty rewards program. These typically reward hotel stays with points that you can accumulate and apply towards free nights.
Frequent travelers also benefit from consistency in quality. If you enjoyed your stay at the Kimpton Monaco in D.C., you’d likely find that their New York City properties have similar amenities. Your savings is then supplemented by the comfort that you are not getting a cut-rate hotel experience.
Online Travel Sites Find Great Deals and Offer Rewards, Too
There are numerous online travel sites, such as Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, and Kayak, that specialize in information aggregation. They collect rate information from hotels and sort options based on location and price.
Online travel sites help find great last minute deals for those who are willing to accept risks of brand unfamiliarity. These sites also have rewards programs that are usually slightly less advantageous than those available through a hotel chain. There are also some travel apps, such as Hotel Tonight, that seek to serve the last-minute traveler.
Travelers Can Leverage the Power of Online Targeted Marketing
A mash-up of both of these options involves picking and choosing between an online travel site and a direct book. This is especially helpful if you are interested in a boutique hotel that lacks the national presence of a major chain. If you visit a hotel or travel portal’s website but do not complete a transaction, you will likely be retargeted with better offers. These offers can pop up in your Instagram or Facebook feeds and are one example of how online browser tracking can benefit a customer.
Ultimately, the choice depends on comfort. If you are risk-averse and prefer familiar travel experiences, find a brand you like and start accumulating rewards. If you are open to different types of lodging, you can save more by searching for deals online.