The biggest chunk of any trip planning is how to find good accommodation, but this problem seems to have reduced with the advent of online booking services and travel agencies. Even with that, there is still this issue of which of the site to use, because they’re many of them available. How do you now solve the problem brought by the monstrous pile of booking sites to book the cheapest accommodation, to achieve the primary objective of saving time and money which the service is meant for? This will be the focus of this piece. Let’s begin by understanding the meaning of online booking services and types.
Online Booking Service
What’s Online Booking Services
Online booking services are the services that allow making flights or accommodation reservations via the internet. This can be through the website, social media pages, online travel agents (like Booking.com and others) metasearch engines (TripAdvisor, Kayak etc.), global distribution systems (GDS: Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport, etc) and vacation rental portals (Airbnb, HomeAway, etc). They either work directly with the main reservation outlets (eg Expedia, Hotels.com etc) or indirectly (common to most meta-search engines, TripAdvisor, Trivago, Kayak etc). Using the service is always free as they get their revenue through commission and users are most often rewarded for using the service.
Types of Online Booking Service
Basically, the online booking service is classified into two. These are:
- Direct Online Booking Services: These are sites that provide booking services without any intermediaries between hotels and users. The site will only be serving as a communication medium, and the property owners aren’t paying them any commissions.
- Indirect Online Booking Services: These reservations service sites operate as third-party booking platforms or aggregators. They have a list of hotels and other properties sites, therefore serving as an intermediary between hotels and the booking sites. They mostly earn their revenue by referring users to these online portals, receiving bookings.
Benefits of Using Online Booking Services
Below are the benefits of Online Booking Service
1. Convenience: The joy in using this service is that it affords the users to br able to book reservations from anywhere and at anytime as well as with any devices, therefore saving them the stress of lengthy calling and visiting travel agencies. Everything is done within few seconds at ones time.
2. Price Comparison: Most of the booking sites have features that allow users to compare price of one property to another. Also, they boost of listing the cheapest available reservations on the homepage and some even come with off bonuses. Aside that, expenses of calling and going to travel agency to book reservations are out of it when you make use of online booking platform.
3. No Changes or Cancelations Stress: In the event whereby you want to make changes to your reservations or cancel it, there is no need to be waiting for a customer service representative to help you with the process, you can do that by yourself and at your convinient time. However, before making booking ensure you read about the reservation cancelations policy.
4. Customer Reviews: You see, the best way to book reservations or flights is online why, it affords you the room of going through reviews of customers in order to pick the most reliable and functional service to use. Most of this sites have thousands of real customers reviews via the internet, going through them will make you understand their strengths and weaknesses, thereby giving you an insight whether they meet your desire or not, a thing offline booking might never give you.
List of Best Online Booking Service Sites for Comparing Prices
Having knowing some of the benefits of online booking sites, let’s look at the top sites which can be used to book cheap hotels and accommodations.
1. Booking.com: Booking.com is one of the largest booking services available online. It makes hotels bookings and reservations easy and straightforward. Aside from booking hotels and accommodations, it allows you to directly book busses and train especially if you are in Europe. Its search engines have filters that can help you to secure your desired bookings. The site is helpful when comparing cheap hotel rates as it allows you to see the total hotel cost upfront as well as helping you to quickly determine which hotels actually fit into your budget.
2. Kayak: This helps to search flights and hotels. It has a user-friendly site with many filters that allows you to search for your desired reservations. The first hotel price result is often higher than better rates farther down the list unless you specifically filter by price on Kayak which is usually tagged as Recommended”. It presents strong price comparisons but users must be ready to scrutinize these searches as the comparison isn’t easy to come by on the drop-down menu.
3. Priceline: This is another top online booking site, just like others it has an easy-to-use interface, and its searches engines good too. Priceline is unique in the sense that it is in mutual agreement with travel agencies, making its results to be largely focused on downtown and tourist-friendly areas. Another unique thing about the site is that it allows you to state the specific amount you are willing to pay for the reservation (if the deal is accepted, and you book reservations, it is non-refundable). There is another one that hides the name of the hotel, which will only reveal after you might have booked. It’s just fun using the platform to get your desired reservation.
4. Hotels.com: This assists users to find the best hotel deals through its various filters features. Their searches cut across all hotels in the city and in other suburbs and any reservation you made will be what you really need. Hotels.com prices are par with most Travel Agency. Some review said that the site’s search does include some fully booked hotels which might serve no use to the customers. Aside from booking hotel reservations, they also help to book others non-hotel reservations like hostels, guest, houses, breakfast, taxi etc. They reward loyal customers through their reward program of 10% off after two successive bookings.
5. Expedia: Expedia is owned by Expedia Inc. which also owns Travelocity and Orbits. The three services are online booking platform but operate slightly differently. Their searches are great, but not usually good to compare to other competitors. However, they have great discount deals and consistency are rewarded which make them stand out.
6. TripAdvisor: This is not an actual online booking site but great for reviewing the prices of reservations. There is a handful of photos that help to have a look at what the reservations look like. When you search for hotels on TripAdvisor, a list of hotels will be shown and there will be prices from few other websites. So, when you click on a specific hotel, you will be led to another site where you will book properly.
7. Travelocity: This offers lots of different booking services like flights, hotels, cars, cruises, travel packages and others. The interface is easy to navigate. To book a reservation, you can simply add flights or rental cars or both. It has various discounts which can be enjoyed when you create an account with the site.
8. Booking Buddy: This booking site affords users to easily compare prices from as many other search sites as they want, without having to do a bunch of different searches. To use this platform for bookings, you will search for the site you want to compare their price and a new tab with your selected hotel stay dates and destination already filled in. It saves you the stress of visiting different sites before you can compare prices.
9. Hotwire: This hotel booking site is great if you don’t mind limited details deals. Their features work like Expedia and its associates. They are partnered with some hotel brands and help users to book reliable hotels. Their website has few discounts deals that help them keep competitors. Customers are fumes that they seem not to have 24/7 customers service or it is just not helpful.
10. Momondo: Momondo is an easy-to-use travel metasearch engine that helps user searching for deals on other websites. Their website is easy to use and shows the price of other websites at one time. Once you click to book for a reservation, you will be taking to an online booking service website to book the reservation properly. The downside of this platform is that they do not have a loyalty program.
Tips to Book the Cheapest Hotels
When we introduced this piece, we said we shall explain how to book cheap hotels online. Some tips to get the best reservation price using online booking sites are:
- Create Account: When you sign up to an online booking site, you will be automatically qualified for its programs for being a loyal user. This reward program might earn you a discount or free breakfast, among other freebies. Some examples of online booking platforms that offer reward program include; Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc.
- Use the Best Search Engines: Above is the list of top online booking service that their prices are some of the best. It is necessary to go for a service that will not be inflating rates absurdly as you know, saving money is one of the main reason for booking hotels online.
- Book Deals with Free Cancellation: Booking reservations with the free cancellation option earns you a great deal in advance. However, it is necessary you check their cancellation policy well before booking. Most often, it is the free cancellation is 24 hours ahead.
- Get Hotel Rewards Credit Card: Signing up for a hotel rewards credit card saves you some bucks as well as earn you some great bonuses. Of the ones you can choose from is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card which offers a bonus of 100,000 bonus miles (worth $1,000) once a user spends $20,000 within 12 months from account opening and among other rewards.
- Scope Out Coupon Code: When you find the best hotel price, just go ahead to find a coupon for that hotel chain or the booking site you found it on. For instance “Booking.com June 2021 coupon”. Some of the more reliable sites that offer coupons include RetailMeNot and Coupons.com.
- Use Region-Specific Search Engines: Most often search engines of “big” sites tend to focus on the common hotels available, but in order to get some specific hotels in a particular region, it is advisable you make use of booking platforms that are region-specific. Examples of such platforms are Easy: Hotel, Motel 1 (Europe); Ctrip, Agoda (Asia), etc.
- Search for Last Minute or Mystery Deals:
Mystery Deals & Bidding: One of the ways to get a cheap hotel is to search for a last-minute or mystery deal. Last minute deals are bookings with reduced prices for some specific minutes. They are usually available on booking sites. Mystery deals are hotels in which details are only revealed after booking might have been made. They often come at a reduced price.
Use the Sharing Economy: This means checking in to someone’s home while they are on vacation. The property is often cheaper and convenient than hotels. They also come with some freebies. Airbnbs is a major platform to get this deal.
Finding a cheap hotel might be a task due to the availability of many online booking services available, but this can be solved by knowing the right search engines and how they work. As you know, booking reservations online should save you time as well as money, so the piece above you help you in getting your booking problem solved. While making use of the platforms, ensure that the service is easy to use, have a clear and straightforward cancellation policy as well as price comparison.