OTAs (Online travel agencies) are the companies who act as 3rd party agents. They allow consumers to book travel related services by using their website.
It is same if you book a flight ticket from OTAs or directly from an airline because you still get all the benefits associated with airline loyalty programs (Frequent flyer programs) but it is a different story when you book a hotel using OTAs.
OTAs provide cheapest price and most of the time prices are lower than the hotels website but we still prefer to book directly with hotel on their website or from the website of their loyalty program. It is wise to choose IATA agents who book using GDS as well.
Why we do not use OTA’s to book hotels –
- Your stay may not be counted against your loyalty status for loyalty programs such as GHA discovery, Hilton Hhonors, IHG, SPG etc.
- You may not get perks associated with your loyalty status.
- You get better rooms (This is tried and tested many times).
- Hotels pay huge commissions to OTAs and in return you may not get points or miles associated with hotel loyalty programs. (You can have incredible value out of some loyalty programs).
- Most of the big hotels chains now provide best rate guaranteed and may compensate you if you find lower price anywhere else online.
When it is wise to use OTA to book hotels –
- If you have less than 10 stays a year in hotels which give generous benefits to their loyal members because you may not able to achieve elite status or get most of the benefits associated with their loyalty program.
- If you stay in hotels which do not participate or have any loyalty program or benefits are not generous.
- If there is big price difference and you have better savings.