What’s The Cheapest Way To Do A Hotel Booking?
Planning a holiday can take a big chunk out of your yearly budget, hence, it makes sense to plan wisely and save as much as possible in every aspect of your trip. Hotel accommodation being one of the biggest expenditures on a vacation, should really be thought out and strategised to avoid paying more than necessary.
Some may think that booking a hotel is pretty straightforward, but it is not as simple as you imagine if you want to save some bucks. It pays to understand what goes on behind the scenes before you part with your money.
The question thousands of holidaymakers ask themselves when they want to book a hotel is — Should you book a hotel directly on their website or through an online agent?
Most hotels work with these online portals, like Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia, based on commission, which automatically makes you assume that booking directly with the hotel would be cheaper, as you cut off the middle man. However, most people still go for those online agents because of the convenience of comparing all hotels, the best-price guarantees, and of course, they usually come up first when you do a Google search.
Let’s find out if we should opt for these online booking agents or should we go directly to the hotel’s website.
How does online agent work?
Due to the cutthroat online competition, rates offered on these online booking agents are more attractive than ever. The way it works is these online travel agencies get around 10% to 25% of the booking price as their commission.
For example, if you are booking a room at RM300 a night, the agency will retain about RM30 to RM75, and send the balance to the hotel after you’ve checked out.
However, when you make your booking directly at the hotel’s website, the hotel will keep most of the money, with minimal payment to an external processing system. So, if you walk in to a hotel with cash, the hotel will stand to make more money, than if you use a credit card or book through online booking agents, even if the rate is the same.
Where is the cheapest rate?
After some snooping around, we found out that you can actually save more money if you do your booking on the hotel’s website instead of through online travel agents. For example, if you are planning a trip to Phuket, booking on one of the hotels’ website can save you about RM97.73 a night!
Booking through online agent:
Booking on the hotel’s official website:
Another example is if you planning to go for a short getaway to Cameron Highlands, you can save about RM40 a night. That may not sound like much, but if you are staying for three nights, that will amount to RM120. Enough to pay for your petrol from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands and back!
On booking agent’s site:
On the hotel’s official website:
So, why do people still book through online agents?
It is undeniable that it is always easier to do our homework if we can find all the information we need on a single site. This could be the reason why travellers still prefer to go through these portals to book online.
The pros of booking cannot just be judged based on the amount you pay. Although you are paying less, are you getting the best? Traditionally people believe that by going straight to the hotel, either on their website, phone or walk-in, they get the best perks, and are able to negotiate for better deals.
However, in today’s competitive online world, it may not be true anymore. With all these online agencies mushrooming on the Internet, consumers are the king. They can get almost all the information they need at their fingertips, so hotels have to compete by price and quality in order to stay full. If two neighbouring and similar hotels with similar review scores are competing online, the one that charges less will get booked up long before the other one.
Hence, this group of guests who booked through online booking agencies become more valuable and important to please. Most travellers avoid hotels with bad or no reviews. These hotel comparison websites usually encourage guests to leave a review by sending them an email reminder after their stay.
When a hotel has built a string of positive reviews and they are getting increased bookings as a result, they try to protect that good reputation by making sure these guests leave happy. Therefore, if they have room with a good view, and a room without a view, the chances of them giving the good view room to the online booking customer are definitely higher.
Where should you book your next holiday?
Having said that, it really depends on what you value most. Getting the best from the hotel or saving some money?
Considering all of the above, it still pays to do your homework before booking your accommodation for a vacation. Online travel agents are still useful and can sometimes give you a better deal. The key is to check on a few agents’ sites, and also compare the rates with the hotel’s official website.
Remember though some booking sites like Agoda do charge an additional fee upon check out so the cheap rates you see on the first page may not be exactly what you end up paying.
Even if you are at the doorstep of the hotel, do a search on the rates before walking in. Perhaps, you can get a better rate online? With many apps released by these same online agents, making a hotel booking on your smartphone is a breeze. Sometimes, last minute booking can surprise you, in a good way.
Whichever way you choose to book your hotel accommodation, the important thing is to ensure your stay is a happy one. Sometimes paying a little bit more can give you the vacation of your dream.