For most travelers, the most simple and effective solution to search for hotels is to use a booking centers (booking.com, hotels.com, Expedia ...). While travel agencies were gradually shelved, reservation centers are the first booking channel. Several questions arise:
- Is it a free service and it is difficult to use?
- How to assess the quality of information provided on these sites?
- Is the booking secure and easy to cancel?
Whatever booking centers is used, no booking fee is charged to the traveler. But the service is not free either. The bill is in fact paid by the hotel and it represents 15 to 20% of the room rate. So what is invisible to the traveler, represents a burden of such an amount, it is indirectly reflected in the price of the room. Indeed, how a hotel could it sustainably reduce its prices by 20% without degrading its performance?
It is easy to understand why the hotel has an interest in the client reserving directly with the hotel and that's why you can see, by visiting the hotel's website, that the prices are almost always lower than on a reservation website. This difference varies from 10% to 15%.
Furthermore, the hotel will reserve its promotions to its website to make a difference and attract more customers who want to book directly. Finally, over-classification can be offered to a customer who booked directly with the hotel but rarely to a “booking center” client where the margin is very low.
Two important elements that impact in the selection of the room should be taken with reserve on booking centers:
- The hotel’s presentation order does not rank from a quotation. It may in fact depend on the rate of commission paid by the hotel or the existence of a special offer granted by the hotel at the booking center. A more expensive room than another, with equally benefit, coupled with a promotion, can be presented earlier in the list.
- The availability of rooms and the stock of remaining rooms are what the hotel has decided to make available to the booking center. It almost always keeps a few rooms to rent directly.
Payments on booking centers are completely secure, like those on the sites of hotels, which are almost 100% reliably transferred to specialized operators.
Whether in a booking center or directly on the hotel web site, you will almost always find a possible 24 or 48-hour cancellation before your arrival date. You will also find that a price often "non-cancellable" is often 10% cheaper. The cancellation policy is always written in the online sales process. Read carefully.
In summary, the clever traveler's interest is to verify the information collected on the site of a booking center by visiting the hotel's website to have the lowest price and the actual room availability.