When traveling, it’s hard to know where to look when finding a place to stay. With dozens of hotel chains and thousands of hotels, travelers can have a tough time finding the best place to stay for the best deal. This drives guests to look toward using third-party booking sites, otherwise known as an Online Travel Agency (OTA), where they can find a one-stop shop for locating hotels.
However, OTAs may not be as advantageous to the customer as it seems. According to Victoria Leonard, regional director of Sales & Marketing for the new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Flint/Grand Blanc, there are many ways customers can benefit by booking directly through a hotel’s website.
“The hotel is the first call when shopping the lowest price possible,” says Leonard. “I think the most valuable benefit of booking direct is our guests become a real person, instead of just a confirmation number.”
With reward programs, such as the Marriott Loyalty Program through Marriott Hotels, members automatically get a discounted rate when booking directly through the hotel’s website. Though some brands have different terms, these complimentary membership programs provide guests with perks such as free night stays, the ability modify or cancel your reservation, early/late checkouts, free upgraded Wi-Fi and much more.
Additionally, some hotel brands, such as Marriott, offer a “Best Rate Guarantee.” If a guest finds a lower rate on an OTA, many hotels will honor and, in some circumstances, may even discount the price from an OTA.
But, as Leonard notes, the biggest benefit a guest gets by booking direct is personalization.
“When booking through a third party, you’re never going to be able to get the same personalized customer service,” says Leonard.
Leonard explains, that when the hotel receives a booking from an OTA, they may not receive all the information they need until the day of the reservation due to an OTA’s platform limitations and privacy restrictions. However, when booking directly through a hotel’s website, all the information, including details such as special requests, is received right away.
In any case, Leonard says that no matter where a guest books, they’re always happy to see them.
“When a guest stays at our hotel, they’re going to get industry-leading customer service,” says Leonard. “Whether they book direct or through a third party, we want our guests to have the best experience possible.”