Online travel agencies have replaced many brick-and-mortar agencies because of their convenience and the ability for consumers to compare prices. But online hotel listings can be deceiving especially when advertised prices are not transparent as they are supposed to be. It is then important to be well-informed of things to avoid when wanting to book hotels online.
A writer from Grumpy Traveller shares a recent experience with booking a hotel online, where he and his girlfriend ended up with a shared room as opposed to a 'private ensuite room' they paid for online. He says, "And this is where the problem lies. The web booking engines have a huge range, but the hotel descriptions are provided by the hotels themselves." He adds that booking engines do not check these descriptions, as opposed to traditional travel agents who do inspections on affiliate hotels.
There are things consumers should avoid when choosing to book hotels online. Here is a list of the top don't items:
1. Taking the hotel listing as it is
There is nothing wrong with trusting a listing, but trusting too much can be a bad thing. When a hotel takes one's interest, do not book for it right away. Check other sites and compare reviews. Check the hotel's website to check if the listing is what it is promised. Make sure a check-and-balance is made before deciding to book, because it is not uncommon for some hotels to overpromise and underdeliver.
Big deals do come and go for hotels, but there are deals that promise 50% to 90% off the original price. It may seem like a big giveaway, but with cross-checking with other sites and with the hotel's own site, most likely it will appear that the 'deal' is nothing but a jib. The 'discounted' price ends up being the same with the regular price.
2. Being easily tricked by discounted prices
Common ways for hotels to lower their prices are: a) not to include city and other taxes that have to be paid on-site; b) giving a no window room; c) assigning a room where bathroom has to be shared; d) not providing an inclusive breakfast; e) not providing free parking; f) giving a late check-in time; and, g) not giving access to free facilities like the pool. These are some of the perks not included in cheap rates, so be sure to double check with the hotel.
Despite all the bad rep given to online hotel listings, renowned travel writer Julianne Mooney shares that she will pick booking hotels online any day over booking with a travel agent. She says, "You can go online and find recommended hotels, restaurants and destinations for free and in a couple of minutes... People can tailor their holidays, creating a trip that fits all their requirements. It's made the world smaller and travelling a whole lot easier and more affordable. As a result of this, it's made us more adventurous."