Everything is better when you get it direct from the source: Food tastes fresher, flowers last longer. But what about travel reservations? A “King Guest Room” is a “King Guest Room” no matter how you book it, right?
Travelers might not notice it right away, but there are some serious advantages to booking directly with a hotel rather than through an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Orbitz.
How it Works: When looking for hotels, many savvy travelers start on an OTA site so they can comparison shop. To be included in the search results, hotels make agreements with the OTA negotiating a hefty commission for bookings – typically 20-30%. So if you reserve a $200 room through an OTA, that little Travelocity gnome is skimming about $60. Further, the hotel must agree to not sell that room at a lower price anywhere else, including on its own site.
If the cost to you is the same either way, why should you book direct?
Direct Benefit #1 – Loyalty Points: It doesn’t matter if it is Stash Rewards, Hilton HHonors, Marriott Rewards or any other hotel loyalty program, if you book through an Online Travel Agency (OTA), you don’t get your points.
Direct Benefit #2 – Brownie Points: OTAs aren’t fluffing your pillows, pouring your nightcaps or giving you wake up calls — your hotel is. Put your money where it belongs, with the folks taking care of you. Cutting out the middle man saves the hotel beaucoup bucks–an action that does not go unnoticed by hotel staff.
Direct Benefit #3 – Perk Priority: Those brownie points have real benefits. With only one upgrade available, a front desk agent is going to hook up the direct-booker over the OTA-booker, every time. Early check-in requests? Hotels will try to accommodate every request, but direct bookers often float to the top of the list.
Direct Benefit #3 – Flexibility: Need to make a change to your reservation? Would you rather call the OTA’s 1-800-Robot (Please speak your 27-digit reservation code so we may assist you…. I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Please try again) or get a friendly human who can actually assist you?
Direct Benefit #4 – Get Personal: Have special needs or requests? When booking direct, you can make sure the hotel knows you need adjoining rooms on a high floor, or that you are allergic to down and require foam pillows. Or maybe you just need a framed picture of bacon. No matter what you need or want – a direct booking is the surefire way to get a tailored experience.
In closing, every Stash partner hotel will go out of their way to delight the every guest, regardless of how they book. It’s the standard of service that unites these independent hotels.
Next time you travel, skip the middleman, and head straight to the source.