With the rise of online travel booking sites and apps, travelers today have more options than ever for reserving hotel rooms. But should you book directly with the hotel or use third-party apps like Expedia and Booking.com?
In this in-depth guide, we’ll compare the pros and cons of both approaches to help you decide which is better.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While travel apps can help you easily compare prices and reviews across multiple hotels, booking directly with the hotel often provides the best rates, perks, and flexibility. Read on for a detailed comparison of the key factors to weigh.
Pricing and Deals
When it comes to pricing and deals, both booking directly with a hotel and using a travel app have their advantages. Let’s take a closer look at how each option fares:
Travel Apps Offer Price Comparisons
One of the major benefits of using a travel app is the ability to compare prices from multiple hotels. These apps aggregate prices from various booking websites, allowing you to easily find the best deal available.
With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can compare prices, read reviews, and even check for additional discounts or promotions.
Additionally, travel apps often offer exclusive deals and discounts that may not be available when booking directly with a hotel. These deals can include discounted rates, free breakfast, or even complimentary upgrades.
By using a travel app, you can potentially save money and enjoy added perks during your stay.
According to a study conducted by Statista, 64% of travelers found the best hotel deals through travel apps.
Direct Bookings May Offer Lower Rates or Free Perks
On the other hand, booking directly with a hotel can sometimes lead to lower rates or free perks that may not be available through a travel app. Hotels often have special promotions or loyalty programs that offer exclusive discounts for direct bookings.
By bypassing the middleman, you may be able to negotiate a better rate or receive additional benefits such as complimentary Wi-Fi or late check-out.
Furthermore, hotels may have room inventory that is not available on travel apps. This means that by booking directly, you have access to a wider range of room options, including special room types or views that may not be listed on the app.
It’s worth noting that some hotels guarantee the lowest rates when booking directly with them. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, they may match the price or even offer a lower rate.
According to a survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 52% of travelers prefer to book directly with a hotel to secure the best deal.
Rewards and Loyalty Programs
Most Major Hotel Chains Have Loyalty Programs
When it comes to booking hotels, one of the benefits of booking directly with the hotel is the opportunity to join their loyalty program. Most major hotel chains have their own loyalty programs that offer a range of perks and rewards for their members.
These programs are designed to incentivize guests to book directly with the hotel, rather than through third-party travel apps.
Joining a hotel’s loyalty program often comes with benefits such as free Wi-Fi, room upgrades, late checkout, and even complimentary breakfast. Some programs also offer exclusive discounts and promotions that are only available to members.
By booking directly, guests can take advantage of these perks and enhance their overall hotel experience.
Loyalty Status and Points Only Apply to Direct Bookings
One important thing to note is that loyalty status and points usually only apply to direct bookings made through the hotel’s official website or reservation hotline. If you book through a travel app, you may not be able to earn loyalty points or enjoy the benefits of your loyalty status.
By booking directly, you can accumulate points that can be redeemed for future stays, upgrades, or even airline miles. Additionally, as you climb higher in the loyalty program tiers, you may unlock additional benefits and privileges, such as access to executive lounges or dedicated customer service representatives.
Travel Apps Have Their Own Rewards Programs
While booking directly with the hotel may have its advantages in terms of loyalty programs, it’s worth noting that travel apps also have their own rewards programs. These programs are designed to encourage users to book hotels through their platforms.
Travel app rewards programs often offer benefits such as cashback, discounts on future bookings, or even exclusive deals for certain hotels. Users can accumulate points or earn status levels within these programs, which can lead to additional perks and savings.
It’s important to compare the benefits and rewards offered by both the hotel loyalty programs and the travel app rewards programs to make an informed decision. Consider factors such as the frequency of your hotel stays, the hotel chains you usually prefer, and the overall value you can derive from each program.
Pro-tip: To make the most of your hotel bookings, consider joining both the hotel loyalty program and a travel app rewards program. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of both and maximize your savings and rewards.
Cancellation and Change Policies
When it comes to cancellation and change policies, there are some key differences between booking a hotel directly and through a travel app.
Direct Bookings Usually Offer More Flexible Policies
One advantage of booking a hotel directly is that they often offer more flexible cancellation and change policies. Many hotels have their own policies in place that allow guests to cancel or modify their reservations without any fees up to a certain time before their check-in date.
This can be especially beneficial for travelers who may need to make last-minute changes to their plans. Additionally, some hotels even offer refundable rates, which means that if you do need to cancel your reservation, you can get a full refund.
Booking directly with a hotel also gives you the opportunity to speak directly with their staff and negotiate any changes or cancellations. This personalized approach can often result in a more favorable outcome compared to dealing with a third-party travel app.
Travel Apps Have Varying Cancellation Policies
On the other hand, travel apps have their own cancellation and change policies, which can vary from app to app. While some travel apps may offer flexible policies similar to those of hotels, others may have stricter rules in place.
It’s important to carefully read the terms and conditions of the app before making a reservation to understand their cancellation and change policies.
Some travel apps may also charge additional fees for cancellations or modifications, which can add to the overall cost of your booking. It’s crucial to consider these potential fees when comparing prices between booking directly with a hotel and using a travel app.
It’s worth noting that some travel apps may offer travel insurance options, which can provide added protection in case of unexpected changes or cancellations. However, it’s important to carefully review the coverage and terms of the insurance policy before purchasing to ensure it meets your specific needs.
Hotels Can Provide More Personalized Service for Issues
When it comes to customer service, booking a hotel directly can offer a number of advantages. One of the main benefits is the ability to receive more personalized service when dealing with any issues that may arise during your stay.
By booking directly, you have a direct line of communication with the hotel staff who are usually more equipped to handle your concerns promptly and efficiently. Whether it’s a problem with your room, a request for additional amenities, or any other issue, speaking directly with hotel staff can often lead to a quicker resolution.
Moreover, hotels are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction when you book directly with them. They understand the importance of building a strong relationship with their guests and rely on positive word-of-mouth recommendations to attract future bookings.
Therefore, they are more inclined to provide excellent customer service to maintain their reputation and keep guests happy.
Travel Apps Offer Support for Booking Problems
On the other hand, travel apps also provide customer support, but their approach may differ. While they may not offer the same level of personalized service as hotels, they do offer support for booking problems.
If you encounter any issues with your reservation, such as a double booking or a problem with payment, travel apps usually have customer support teams available to assist you. They can help resolve these types of issues and ensure that you have a smooth booking experience.
Additionally, travel apps often have user reviews and ratings for each hotel, which can help you make an informed decision when booking. These reviews can provide valuable insights into the quality of service, cleanliness, and amenities offered by the hotel.
By reading through the experiences of other travelers, you can get a sense of what to expect and make a more informed decision.
It’s important to note that the level of customer service can vary between different travel apps. Some may have more robust customer support systems in place, while others may not be as responsive. It’s always a good idea to research the app’s customer service reputation before making a booking.
Room Requests and Special Accommodations
When it comes to room requests and special accommodations, booking directly with a hotel can often offer more flexibility and better chances of having your requests met. Hotels prioritize requests from guests who have made direct bookings, as these guests have a direct line of communication with the hotel staff.
By booking directly, you can communicate your specific needs and preferences to the hotel in advance, increasing your chances of getting the room you desire.
Hotels Prioritize Requests for Direct Bookings
Hotels understand the importance of guest satisfaction and strive to accommodate their requests to the best of their ability. When you book directly with a hotel, you establish a direct relationship with the staff, allowing them to prioritize your needs.
Whether it’s a room on a higher floor, a specific view, or a non-smoking room, hotels are more likely to fulfill these requests for guests who have booked directly. Additionally, if any issues arise during your stay, having booked directly makes it easier to resolve them quickly and efficiently.
Travel Apps May Not Guarantee Specific Requests
On the other hand, when using travel apps to book hotels, the process might not be as seamless when it comes to room requests and special accommodations. While some travel apps may allow you to make specific requests, there is no guarantee that they will be fulfilled.
Travel apps act as intermediaries between the hotel and the guest, which can sometimes lead to limitations in communication and flexibility.
When you book through a travel app, your requests are often sent to the hotel electronically. However, due to the volume of bookings made through these platforms, hotels may not prioritize requests made through travel apps as they do with direct bookings.
Your requests may be subject to availability and the hotel’s discretion, which means you might not always get the specific room or accommodations you were hoping for.
It’s important to note that while travel apps might not always guarantee specific requests, they still offer convenience and competitive pricing options. If your room preferences are not a top priority and you are looking for a quick and hassle-free booking process, travel apps can still be a great option.
When booking hotel accommodations, both direct hotel bookings and travel apps have their advantages. Travel apps make price comparisons easy while hotel direct bookings offer better rates, loyalty perks, flexibility, and service.
For most travelers, booking directly with the hotelbrand is preferable, especially for chain hotels where you want to earn or use loyalty points. However, it’s smart to check a few travel sites first to get a sense of market pricing.
Just be sure to then call the hotel directlyto inquire about any current deals or discounts that may beat the travel app prices.