BY LINDA KILCOLLINS — Is this you? You hit the internet searching for the perfect bed and breakfast, looking at the various online travel agencies for the best price. Feeling overwhelmed trying to price compare one online travel agency vs. another?
As a financially-savvy traveler, you probably wonder if it’s cheaper to book direct or through a third party site.
But did you really get the best deal?
In short, probably not. Hidden in most online travel agencies are booking fees, commission fees, housekeeping fees; whatever the OTA calls their “cut in the deal”. Someone has to pay and that someone is you, as well as the bed and breakfast of your choosing. This can negate any real savings.
In addition, you may be limited on room availability and selection. Many establishments list their least selling rooms via OTA’s. Or, the room may not be one of your choosing; you get the one the establishment places you in based upon availability, possibly saving the best rooms for direct bookings.
Establishments may also periodically offer room upgrades. When booking with OTA’s, room changes may not be possible.
What can I do to get the best deal?
Use the OTA’s the way they use you. That is to say, use them as a search engine (or tool) to find the perfect location as you would Bing, Google or Yahoo. Once you have determined the bed and breakfast of your liking, contact them directly via phone or their website. Check their website for deals that may be offered to direct booking guests only. For instance, as of this writing, The McCall House in Ashland is offering a “Date Night Special” to guests that book direct only. Concurrently they are running another offer for direct booking only “Book Two Nights, Get the Third Night Free”. You will not find either of these deals listed with the online travel agencies.
Sign up for seasonal newsletters and/or follow your favorite bed and breakfasts on Facebook, Instagram or other social media. Often deals are posted on these sites as well.
Why book direct?
Avoid paying booking fees, handling fees, cleaning fees and/or commission.
Cancellation policies through OTA’s may be stricter and not offer flexibility.
You have direct contact with the innkeeper, building a relationship and trust.
You may be able to take advantage of specials, room upgrades or other unexpected perks.
Shared local knowledge. Think of your innkeeper as your personal concierge; personal knowledge of local events, restaurants, etc…
Secure payment through a secure website.
So, what are you waiting for? Call and book your next getaway, holiday or vacation DIRECT!
Written by: Linda Kilcollins, Innkeeper of McCall House Bed and Breakfast