As someone who logs thousands of airline miles and 70 segments per year, plus greater than two months of hotel stays in any given year, I feel qualified to discuss the topic of travel. This is only my opinion of course but one that is completely without bias. I have no ties to anything but the truth. I also have no intention of giving a long drawn out explanation but rather getting right to the tip. And here it is.
If you travel more than once or twice per year, there is no need to use one of the travel booking sites. I lump them all together because there is very little difference between them despite what they may tell you. Their job is to convince you that the best prices will come from using their services. And the truth is, sometimes you will get a less expensive price and yes there is some convenience to having these sites price all of the different airlines and hotels. But make no mistake, if you want to have the best possible experience, you need a Direct Relationship with whatever airline, hotel chain or rental car agency you choose.
I was recently booked at one of my hotel chains by an assistant and when I arrived I was told that since my room wasn’t booked through the hotel website, despite my status, I would need to contact the booking site for help with a question that I had. When you use one of the many travel sites, your relationship is with them not the airline, hotel or rental car agency. Again, if you travel once or twice per year, that might not matter to you but if you travel more often than the average individual, join the airline, hotel and rental car agency programs and book your travel yourself. That is not to say that hotels won’t treat you well if you use one of the travel sites. It’s obviously in the best interest of the hotel if they receive positive reviews. But what I am saying is that you will never be treated better than if you demonstrate loyalty to a particular airline or hotel. You will generally have a designated check in/check out line, receive water and in some hotels a welcome kit upon arrival. You also receive preferential rooms, (high floors if that’s what you prefer) and upgrades. You accumulate points that you can use for free flights and hotel stays. And finally, a late check out which is great if you’re on holiday and have an evening flight. You don’t receive these benefits when you book through a travel site.
Airlines and hotels have no allegiance to these sites. They do help fill up rooms that would ordinarily not be sold but they are simply tools for the travel industry. However, if you want the best experience possible, you should book directly through the airline, hotel and car rental programs.