Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) come with many names: Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, etc. etc. etc.
Their million-dollar ads fill the airwaves, implying that if you book with one of these sites, you will get the lowest rate.
In fact, booking through one of these sites is not the best way to make a reservation. Here is why:
- You will not be guaranteed the best rate by going to one of these sites. Dealing directly with the innkeeper will guarantee the best rate. The innkeeper is in control of all rates and all rooms. He/she will not allow another party to have a lower rate. You also avoid any service fees.
- Each of these OTA’s takes a substantial cut for every reservation. The money is taken out of the inn and given to a large corporation. This is money that cannot be used to maintain upkeep on an historical home. It cannot be used to improve amenities. It cannot be used to keep prices lower.
- When you book direct, you develop a relationship with the innkeeper. You can get advice for your visit. You can learn about special or packages. You can inform the innkeeper about food allergies. You can get to know someone who is going to be directly involved in making your stay as comfortable as possible.
- If an emergency arises and you must adjust plans, you do not have to experience the complications of having a third party involved. You deal directly with the inn and can explain your situation to someone who very much wants you to enjoy your stay.
- OTA’s imply on their ads that they are somehow competing with one another. They are not. For example, Expedia owns Travelocity, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, Orbitz, and others! Priceline owns Booking.com, Kayak, and others. Some competition! These sites are simply advertising whatever price the innkeeper allows them to advertise, which is not going to be under the price the innkeeper sets on his/her website. If you did see a lower price, you could simply tell the innkeeper and be assured of getting that price.