The travel industry is changing and travel agencies have been replaced with computers and “do it yourself”. Travel agencies are dying. People are more and more interested in online booking. It’s easy and it’s a quick way to make your booking.
There’s more information online and social media is playing a big part in all of this. You can find anything on your computer or even your phone. You can read more online and you’re able to connect with other travelers via Instagram, Facebook groups, Tripadvisor, blogs, … It’s so easy to find information for your future travel plans.
Travel agency vs online booking
People in travel agencies have a lot of experience (or they should have a lot of experience) and I believe it’s still a good thing for older people for example. It’s easy and someone else does everything in your place. However, younger people are more interested in the online way of booking. I’m the same way. Perhaps I don’t really trust their opinion and I’m more interested in finding the perfect hotel by myself. I like to see different options and I like to compare them. It’s easy to scroll on different websites, whenever you have the time. I don’t have to wait until opening hours of the travel agency. I could even book at night if I wanted to. I book my flight directly on the site of the airline company and my hotel on Booking.com for example. I might go for the touroperators to book a cheap city trip or an all inclusive. Still, I’ll book that trip on their site and not at the travel agency. Other than that, I use the direct way of booking.
Booking.com and Expedia
Sites as Booking.com and Expedia are very popular but is it always a good idea to use them? First off, we’ve all made a booking via these two sites, isn’t it? I’m a fan of them myself. However, it’s all about marketing. It’s a good way for hotels to become more popular but they have to pay to be featured on their website.
What do I mean when I say “it’s about marketing”? Well, it has to go fast and they are trying to create a certain need. What do I mean? “The prices on your dates are the lowest we’ve seen in weeks”, “book fast and don’t miss this offer”, “-70% if you book today”, “only 1 room available”, “5 people are currently looking at this hotel”. See what I mean? If you see something like this, what is your immediate reaction? Right, book as fast as possible because this might be your one and only chance and you don’t want to miss it. At least that’s what they are trying to do.
A common situation: you’re looking for a cheap hotel in a particular place on a particular date. The site says there’s no hotel available anymore. Does this mean there’s literally not a single room available anymore? Absolutely not. It just means that there is no room available on their site. You could check the site of the hotel itself and find a room for a different price. More expensive or cheaper? It depends. How long will you be there for? Are you a member of this particular hotel chain? Is breakfast included?
One for the price of two
Another problem: most of the time you’ll be paying for two people, which means if you want to book a room for one person, you’ll have to pay extra. Secondly, there might be one room available and it happens to be a room with two double beds and you’re alone. What do you do? The site says it’s OK but you might arrive at the hotel and they might ask you to pay extra (but the site said it was OK?). On the other hand, this problem occurs on the website of hotels as well.
How about payment?
How about payment? You have two options: the first one is paying in advance. Be careful and take a look at the currency. Prices in dollars are not the same as prices in euros, which means you will pay this particular price at this particular moment in this particular currency. Have you ever thought about the exchange rate? Prices might vary. You may book this hotel 3 weeks before departure and it might be cheaper one week before departure. It’s too late now but you didn’t want to miss this great price because the site said there was only one room left that day.
The second option is paying at the hotel itself. Book now and pay later, which is usually cheaper. Watch out for this. Hotels are supposed to ask the price you’ve seen at the moment of booking. However, not all hotels will do this. They should do it but again, think about the exchange rate. It might be 10 euros extra but if you’re staying for a longer time in a fairly expensive hotel, it might just as well be 100 euros extra. If you go for this option, there’s usually a cancellation possible until 24 hours before departure, which is a good thing in case you have to cancel your trip.
I have to say, I don’t have a favorite way of payment (I don’t like to pay in general) but I’ve tried both of these options before. I can’t say I’ve experienced big problems (yet) but watch out and pay attention to the details.
Did my booking go through?
There’s also that stressy moment “did my booking go through?”. Recently, I booked a hotel on Expedia and paid with my card. The site asked the code on the back of my card but that’s it. I didn’t get any confirmation and I wasn’t sure whether the hotel would actually receive the booking or not. I had no evidence of payment. Luckily, they did and it went well but imagine if they didn’t?
Do they offer anything extra?
The good thing about sites like this is that they offer extra options like car rental, pick up service at the airport and even plane tickets. The plane tickets are a good idea for shorter flights but I wouldn’t book them for a long haul flight because I like to book my seat in advance. Most of the cheaper flights are flights with a layover though.
Times are changing
Let’s just say that times are changing. The travel industry is changing and it will continue to grow in the near future. The customer is in control now and there will always be place for new ways of booking. However, one thing will never change: the customer wants quality for a good price.
What is your favorite way of booking? Do you always go for the online option or do you prefer the good old travel agent? What are your experiences and have you seen any differences in prices?