Booking direct or via OTAs: what’s the better deal?

Hotels and OTAs might be in an all-out war, but some travel experts think you can book with both, it just depends on when you’re looking to book.

Mark Blutstein, research analyse with travel research firm, Phocuswright, says older travellers, who are more likely to have clocked up a bunch of loyalty and reward points, will be more likely to book direct.

Meanwhile, the millennials – who’s trends we can barely keep up with – are just “looking for the best deal they can get”.

In some cases, such as where hotels or airlines offer discounts or perks for going direct, it can be better to skip the OTAs, but the OTAs can also be important tools for travellers when used properly.

According to MarketWatch, there are specific conditions that can make either one the better choice.

When to Book Directly

Bjorn Hanson, a professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, told MarketWatch that there are typically three rates travellers choose from; a public rate with no discounts, a discounted rate for members of loyalty programs, and a discounted non-refundable rate.

“Almost always, one of those three will be as low or lower than the rate through an online travel agency for a similar arrangement,” Hanson said.

And because OTAs like Expedia are charging commissions for bookings they get, hotels aren’t putting their best deals on these search and comparison websites.

“There’s some price cutting we’re seeing in the marketplace to drive direct bookings,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive of Expedia, per MarketWatch.

But low costs aren’t the only benefit, with perks like upgrades and free Wi-Fi often a plus of booking direct through hotels.

“Chances are you’ll be treated a little better [when booking direct], but sometimes you do need to call it out to them,” said Gautum Lulla, President of Travel Tripper, a hotel booking tech provider.

Read rest of the article at Travel Weekly