March 1, 2013 06:30:43
Posted By Gecko
For the independent traveler booking a holiday online – a flight, a hotel and perhaps a car rental – there appears to be a vast number of specialist travel sites that can help. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that the online travel and tourism market is primarily controlled by a handful of major players operating under different brands.
An understanding of who owns what, and of the sales tactics employed by these online travel shopping sites, can help the buyer find the best possible deal – as detailed in our guide to the secrets of the online travel trade.
- If you plan to rent a car from a specific company, did you know that your nationality and geographical location can alter the price offered to you? Using a local version of their site (rather than the main dot com) may often be the way to go.
- If you see a special offer on a limited number of discounted rooms for sale on a hotel booking website, can you be sure this is truly a special offer? The “slashed” price shown next to the “standard” price (presented in text that has been struck through) may well be the very same price as that offered by the hotel’s own website. Yet the hotel will generally give a better room or welcome to a “direct” guest…
- An online travel site may offer prices that appear lower than those offered by the final service provider (the hotel or holiday accommodation), but it may display a calculated price that is based on “indicative exchange rates” that are unachievable – meaning the final booking amount requested will in fact be higher than that displayed.
- Hotel review sites may appear independent – but their business model may often be to drive bookings through their partners or related companies, for a commission. Take a look at that tiny asterisk next to the line that says “See best prices” – and you’ll see a qualification that this means the best prices their commission-earning partners can offer, rather than the best price offered by the property directly.
- "No availability" may simply mean that the booking engine is not able to earn a commission for the booking, so prefers to send you to another property where a commission will be received. The property itself may well have available rooms if you contact it directly...
Be aware of the “tricks of the trade,” read the small print where the devil lurks, and always consider booking directly!