Many travellers do not really understand the roles of online travel agents (OTAs), travel search sites and suppliers, says travel search site Wego. Many are also confused as to who has, and how to find the best value hotel rates online. Craig Hewett, Wego co-founder, explains what hotel rate parity is all about and gives some insider tips on how to find the best hotel rates.

Finding the right hotel and getting a good room rate can be a struggle even for the most seasoned traveller. I was once chatting to fellow travellers while holidaying with family in Thailand who were boasting about the great rate they’d been able to secure at the hotel. They were rather taken aback when I told them I’d secured the same room for US$50 per night less than what they’d paid.

Online rate parity, especially in Asia, is a myth. There’s a misconception that flights are the big ticket item in a travel itinerary, yet by far the largest costs are attributed to hotels and food and beverage. I was able to save US$350 in total on my Thai accommodation, which equates to another airfare or room service each night.

Many believe that booking directly with a hotel equates to receiving the lowest rate, but it’s not always the case. There are a few reasons for this.

Close to 70% of all hotels in Asia are independent and run as small businesses devoid of the pricing sophistication enjoyed by global hotel chains. In many cases they don’t have efficient online booking systems to power their websites, nor the resources to manage fluctuating pricing, but instead need to focus on the huge task of managing hotel operations.

The result is that third party websites (OTAs) are contracted to help manage and extend their reach online.

In many cases sites such as and Expedia have better rates than those advertised on the hotel website as they rely on the OTA to bring in their bookings.

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