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It never occurred to me that I may get a lesser room by booking via Hotels.com, than with the hotel direct. I tend to go direct for leisure as my expectations are different than for business. When on business I am quite happy with a chain hotel provided it has good wifi, a reasonable room, a decent breakfast and the obligatory bar. For leisure I am much more discerning and will often want to contact the hotel with my specific requirements…such as adjoining rooms for the kids, decent view, balcony, first night reservation for dinner, no alcohol in kids room etc. Also if staying a while I can usually negotiate a better rate or other perk to make my stay better value. The best I ever got was from Rui Hotels where I managed to get a forty mile airport pick up, seaview, bubbly in room on arrival and late check out (6pm).18 Feb 2016
Your advice is absolutely accurate, BEYbrit. I’m an advocate for a travel forum that solves problems, and we see 2 or 3 posts a week from people who are caught between an online travel agency and the travel supplier. While millions of satisfied travelers use OTAs, when there’s a problem you can’t get it fixed without an act of Congress. Use an OTA for research, but always book direct.19 Feb 2016
I have to agree with much of above.
I have a Platinum Accor membership, and if i book via a 3rd party, they simply are not alerted to know you will be staying with them. You do not qualify for any benefits, or points at all either. Actually, they have so many member offers and Private sales, that booking direct is always cheaper.
Last year, I booked with Ebookers for (the much talked about) Garuda flight from LGW-AMS-CGK. With the CEO announcing publicly that the runway was not certified for this aircraft, weight that the route would stop at SIN, and it would be probably changing from LGW. On top of this, then there was information it would only operate on certain days!
I decided to cancel the flight.
Ebookers refused by email, and their only call centre was in India. It really was like speaking to a robot, pre-programmed with no discretion and pre-scripted replies. I felt i had very good and reasonable grounds to cancel, as i did not want to stop another time, and it was unsure what days it would operate, and the date given for changes was the day before i travelled. It was unsure if my booking would remain or not. I also received an email saying that the flight would have a 4 hrs connection to DPS, another change.
I could not go ahead and book a hotel and spend another £1500+, not knowing if my flight would be running, how many stops, and what date i would arrive. It would render the hotel booking useless.
This became unacceptable.
I referred the matter to American Express, the card which i booked it through. We all know they have an excellent reputation, and though it took some months, they upheld my concerns, and refunded the amount of over £1,800 for the ticket. They subsequently re-debited Garuda.
Over the years, this is typical of Garuda, unreliable and unpredictable, and poorly managed, even it they have a good product these days!
I see no advantage any-more booking on any of these 3rd Party sites, as you simply have no-one to talk to in the UK, no office to take matters up with here. Any changes or circumstances are not processed properly, and you have to get your insurer or Card provider to step in. This takes much time of your time, and drags on for months.
Like others, i Only book direct, but having said that, Accor is on many of the CashBack sites, giving an extra 10-16% at times off. It still goes through as you book on Accor, or the Airline sites via them, so direct.
Airlines can vary between 1-4%. It all puts money back to you!
In this way, Airlines and Hotels are directly responsible for your booking, and as mentioned if as a regular there, or a high level in their programs, they will often use discretion for changes. It is more reliable, flexible, secure, compared to 3rd party sites, AND- Use a reliable Charge/Credit Card provider for extra cover and support if needed!20 Feb 2016