Should you book through massive online agencies? Modern users seem to rely heavily on the big online travel agencies and booking agencies, but are users doing themselves a disservice? Is there a better way? Nobody is saying you shouldn’t consult the larger travel websites and comparison sites, but before you do, try a few of the tips listed below. It could be that you can save money — sometimes a lot of money — if you look at some other options.

Don’t Forget That You Can Negotiate

If you are shopping around and you find a price on one website that is lower than another, then mention the lower price to the other websites and agencies. Do they have a “Best Rate Guarantee” for booking direct? They may be willing to lower the quote for your vacation or flight if you negotiate a little.

Are You Using Websites With Automatic Price Lowering?

There are some websites out there that automatically search for comparison prices on booking engines. They then offer a slightly lower price to ensure they are offering the lowest rate. Such websites are not difficult to find. The hard part is getting in there and snapping up the best prices before they are taken.

How can you be sure that the website has a booking search engine that automatically lowers their prices to beat the competition? Unless the website tells you, then you cannot know. However, one way of figuring it out is to keep checking back to see their prices. If their prices fluctuate on a regular basis, then some form of automatic price lowering is occurring.

Will You Earn Loyalty Points Or Credit?

If you are planning to travel to the same place and maybe use the same hotel on a number of occasions, then maybe the bigger booking agency websites are not for you. You may get a better deal by going direct to the hotels. On the other hand, you may get a better price and a better deal if you pick a company that has a loyalty and rewards program because you may earn your discount in loyalty prizes and rewards.

Can You Forget The Booking Website And Make A Friend?

If you are planning frequent trips to the same place, then why not opt for a smaller hotel or a B&B. Talk to the manager and tell him or her that you are planning to make numerous visits. Tell him or her your schedule and ask if you can have a lower rate for future trips. If the hotel or B&B is reputable, you should find out if they will allow you to book your stays long in advance for a bigger discount.

Can You Book All Your Trips At Once For A Big Discount?

Online agencies like it when you put lots of money through their system, but they do not have the human touch that some other companies do. With that in mind, why not approach other companies and tell them about your travel plans?

Explain that you have to take X amount of trips to X and that you plan to stay at X. Figure out how much the trips would cost you at their current prices, and ask if you can make a bulk booking right now for all the trips, and if you did, how much of a discount would they be willing to give.

Some Hotel Chains Offer Perks

Booking through a big agency website is fine, but there are some chain hotel services that offer perks for booking through their website and/or using their loyalty system. Some of the most common perks are add-ons and many hotel chains do not add commissions onto the price, nor do they have hidden charges. Also, if you are part of a hotel’s loyalty scheme, the staff may be encouraged to treat you nicer.

Don’t Be So Brand Conscious

Online comparison websites and big travel websites are mostly concerned with big brand name companies because they pay the best commissions. If you do your own research, you may find smaller chains that do not have a well-known branded name. You may also find smaller businesses and independent hotels that offer a great location and a great service.

If you are going to avoid being brand conscious, why not consider your hotel location a little harder. You may be able to find smaller independent hotels that are very close to attractions. You may also find hotels that are not so close to attractions, but that have very good public transport routes nearby or that have very good road access to the attractions.

Book Through Travel Websites If You Can Tinker With The Timing

Many of the bigger travel websites have some degree of automated system running their website. If you fiddle with your time of departure/arrival and/or the date of your arrival/departure, you may pull a few lower prices from the system. As it updates to accommodate your changes, you may see prices go lower or higher. Manipulate the system until you start seeing prices that fit your budget or that are suitably lower.

Consider Specialty ‘Last Minute Hotel Room’ Apps as an Alternative

The past  few years have brought a new kind of hotel booking app into popularity. Apps like ‘Hotel Tonight‘ offer you huge discounts on hotel rooms that have been unbooked for most of the day (typically after 3-4 pm). It’s possible to get a sweet 40-60 discount on a five star hotel room if you wait and book very late, using this app.

Some Travel Websites Offer Discount Codes On Social Media

If you are using a big travel website, then consider one that is trying its best to create an online and social media presence. You may be able to exploit their desperate need for social media attention. Use the discount codes they post online. Learn their posting routine and wait for the best discount codes to suit you.

Sign Up For Alerts

Whether you are using large travel websites, comparison websites, or you are trying some of the tips listed on this article, you should always sign up for alerts where you may find them. Set them to tell you when stupidly low rates and/or stupidly high discounts are on offer, and take advantage of them when they come along.

AirBnB

Make SURE you check AirBNB as an alternative to booking a hotel. Most of the time, AirBNB is offers better deals on housing, especially if you are considering a longer stay of a week or more. For example, there are often weekly and monthly rate discounts. You can typically expect AirBNB to be anywhere from 20 to 60 percent cheaper than a hotel, depending on what level of housing you seek. Even if you spring for more luxury apartment options on AirBnB and end up paying around the same as a hotel, you often more for your money. If say $100 USD gets you a 3 star hotel in Europe, you might find you get a fully furnished 1 or 2 bedroom apartment right in the city center for that if you rent an apartment on AirBnB.

So at least CHECK with AirBnB before booking a hotel to compare your options.

Conclusion

As you have read, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t use a large travel website when booking your trip, your hotel and/or your vacation. On the other hand, there are times when using a travel website is suitable and advantageous, such as if they post discounts on social media and so forth. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t rush straight to comparison websites and large travel websites. Shopping around means trying a few of the things listed in this article as well as trying the large travel websites and compression websites.