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Booking hotels--travel website or directly with the hotel?

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Apr 14th, 2013, 12:17 PM
  #1
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Booking hotels--travel website or directly with the hotel?

I'm planning a trip to Madrid and Barcelona and am curious about what others do. I've noticed that the travel websites (expedia, hotels.com, priceline, etc.) seem to have cheaper pricing than the individual hotel websites. What are your experiences and or recommendations? What are the pros and cons?
My instinct is to book directly with the hotels, but would appreciate any feedback and advice.

thank you.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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I always use www.booking.com no trouble with this listing site.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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I too have had good experiences with the online booking sites. Although when calling the hotel directly I can sometimes access special promotions and deals not listed on the website. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 01:09 PM
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We have used Priceline.com several times in big cities with very good results. (after a little preliminary research)

The sites have not been so useful for me in smaller towns.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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I'm another fan of booking.com, also eurocheapo. You cannot make broad generalisations about hotel prices. Which sites have the best prices varies depending on the time of year and the kind of hotel. If you are staying in western chains you will probably do better on sites like expedia, which are oriented to the US market. If you are staying in more local (and interesting) properties the hotel site may well be better, and those properties are unlikely to show up on expedia at all.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 01:19 PM
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Three options, depending on what kind of hotel you're booking.

For smaller, independent, hotels aimed at the mass market, travel websites are really OTA's (online travel agencies). They could be getting as much as a 25% markup. If you contact the hotel directly with this information in mind, you might be able to negotiate a better price.

For luxury hotels (for example, the Westin or Hotel Ritz in Madrid, or the Mandarin Oriental or Hotel Arts in Barcelona, among others), you will get added-value amenities (free breakfast for two, room upgrades, F&B credits) by booking through a Virtuoso travel consultant. You won't get these through an OTA or by booking directly.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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Thanks for responding....much appreciated.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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I have got the best deals by booking directly with the hotel.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 03:23 PM
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If you can get the same price or better, book directly with the hotel. If not, use one of the booking sites. I like booking.com as well.

One tip: if hotels are pretty booked up on the days you'll be in one city, check Trip Advisor's list of B&Bs and look for places you CANNOT book online (that do not use booking websites - hey, it saves them money). These places are probably not much more trouble - just an email or call directly to the property to check and reserve - but because it's a tad more trouble, many people won't bother and you'll be more likely to find better vacancies and prices.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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Booking sites are parasite middlemen who give you nothing. They offer no bargains at at all and often fail to include discounted deals that available directly with the hotel. Worse, they drive up hotel room rates since their 20% has to come from somewhere.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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It often is the case where a TA comes in handy. Hotels pay commissions and you can always get an agent to help solve problems. i have a good relationship with one. I research the places I where I want to stay' check prices/deals/offers and then call her. She takes it from there and I have always been sarisfied. You are talking to a real person and I find that comforting. She also books any flights that are not reward flights. For this she gets no commission except on a very few (West Jet is one that srill pays)At Chrismas we send her a nice card and often, depending on past efforts, a gift certif.to a nice restuarant, or a bottle of wine or whatever. It is very handy to have a person you can call if you run into trouble with accom. She can also find better prices than I can on occasion. worth a thought!! As Imhotnet says booking sites are inpersonal middle men.
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Apr 14th, 2013, 11:40 PM
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lmhornet what you say about booking sites is not entirely true.
Booking.com The hotel has to advertise the normal price per day it cannot offer the price for the same room plus commission. So hotel price is **€ on Booking it will be the same via the hotel's website too. That is the rule for listing on said website.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 12:59 AM
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As ribeirasacra says, generally the price on the hotel listing sites isn't higher than the individual websites, this is a listing requirement. But, as they apply a margin to the price, it generally means that the hotel gets 20-25% less for the same reservation. If you have stayed at a hotel before and you've had a good experience, you'll help keep them in business by booking on their individual website. Plus, a quick phone call/email may get you a better deal.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 01:22 AM
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Many times I have gotten a hotel room cheaper on a booking site than I could on the hotel site. A couple times I asked the hotel to match, but I did not succeed. The hotel benefits because of the volume the third-party provider offers, and it may have allocated a set number of rooms to the provider (depending on the circumstances). In some cases, the third-party site gets benefits (like free breakfast or wi-fi), that the hotel site doesn't offer.

If you use a site like kayak.com, you quickly see that different booking sites offer a wide range of prices, and there's no "one" best place to go to get the best price. Sometimes the hotel site is best, sometimes not. For me, I use non-hotel sites probably > 75% of the time, but I am very value- and location-driven.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 01:26 AM
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Because you are asking about Spain, I should say that I have seen excellent deals from the SolMelia.com hotel chain site. Sign up for their offers. There's another Spanish site that offers travel vouchers, but I can't recall the name of that. But definitely also use Kayak.com .
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Apr 15th, 2013, 01:39 AM
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Also check HRS.com .
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Apr 15th, 2013, 04:13 AM
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I used to search on the booking sites but then reserve through the hotel directly, occasionally getting a better price, and thinking that I might get treated better. I no longer believe that is the case. The booking site and the hotel site's prices are almost always identical, and in many stays booked through booking.com, venere.com, and others I have never had a problem with the reservation or anything else.

The booking sites charge the hotels a percentage, that's true. But they make up for it by being more fully booked. They don't get anything from empty rooms. Look at it the same as advertising. Sure it costs money, but if no one buys your product you don't make any money at all.

For the customer it's convenient, easy to compare different hotels, booking is usually immediate (no waiting for the hotel to respond to your email) and if you need to cancel it's a snap.

And the booking sites do have specials. You can frequently get a lower price if you are willing to pre-pay, not have the ability to cancel, etc.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 05:00 AM
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Last week, we stayed three nights at the Park Inn by Radison in York, England. I didn't particularly choose that hotel, but simply looked on various sites at the last minute for what was available. The different sites had wildly different prices, and we chose the offer of £275 through lastminute.com. Alternative sites had prices as high as £450.

Our room was a good size and well-equipped, and overlooked the river. The hotel is within walking distance of the main sites, shops and restaurants. At least some of the other guests were with an American tour party.
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Apr 26th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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"lmhornet what you say about booking sites is not entirely true.
Booking.com The hotel has to advertise the normal price per day it cannot offer the price for the same room plus commission. So hotel price is **€ on Booking it will be the same via the hotel's website too. That is the rule for listing on said website."

You miss the point. Since the hotel knows that it will have to pay the commission on some percentage of its rooms, it has to jack up the normal rack rate to take that into account. The commmision has to come from somewhere it is ain't the hotel's pocket.

Middlemen always add a charge that gets passed on to you one way or another. Slime like these booking sites, Tickemaster, etc provide no service and drive up prices. It always amazes me that most people refuse to see the obvious fact that these worthless creeps are sucking money out of your pocket and give you nothing in return.
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Apr 26th, 2013, 11:40 PM
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Imhorrnet."You miss the point. Since the hotel knows that it will have to pay the commission on some percentage of its rooms, it has to jack up the normal rack rate to take that into account. The commmision has to come from somewhere it is ain't the hotel's pocket."
Again I am sorry to say you are completely wrong. Hotels that do not advertise on Booking are missing out
If accommodation listing on Booking do jack up prices, then this example would be almost free to sleep
http://bit.ly/madbookingprice. 25€ per night in Madrid.
Accommodation advertise on Booking because they know they get business from it. Clients use it because it has a good name and it is easy to book rooms. But if you don't trust it than you do not. There is nothing that is going to persuade you to trust it.
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