In 2019, the economy was riding high and global tourism hit record levels. While 2020 has presented a stark contrast to that reality, we feel strongly that the likelihood of a bounce-back in the years ahead is strong and that you need to be ready to pounce as soon as things boot back up.
A key element to keep in mind as you look to get your travel plans back on track is how you’re going to book your accommodations. That begs this post’s key question, how can you find the best online booking sites for hotels?
When it comes to booking sites, you’ve got a lot of options. Below, our team shares 8 key factors that will help you filter those options to decide which site to do business with.
Keep reading to enjoy a better, faster, and cheaper booking experience!
The number one factor when it comes to finding the best online booking sites for hotels is reputability. Fortunately, this is what most people use as their primary (and sometimes only) gauge for picking a booking partner.
When you work with a reputable partner, you work with somebody that’s going to correctly represent your accommodations, will offer you fair prices, and will take care of your banking information.
As far as how to deduce reputability goes, do some exploring online to see what people have to say about particular booking sites they’ve done business with. If you’re seeing droves of happy customers, you’re on the right track!
2. Low Prices
While not the end all be all of gauging online booking sites, low prices are obviously something you’ll want to keep an eye on when you’re picking a booking partner.
The way online booking sites work is that they charge hotels a fee for every room they sell on their platform. Depending on that fee, hotels will have to raise or lower the price they offer for their rooms on any given platform. That creates market variances for how expensive a room is depending on where you shop.
As a rule of thumb, you want to work with the most affordable booking site that you consider to be reputable.
3. Solid Loyalty Programs
A trend we’re seeing pick up steam in the online booking space are loyalty programs. Loyalty programs offer customers special perks depending on how often they book. For example, getting a free night for every ten nights you buy.
If you book hotels often, hooking up with a booking site with a great loyalty program may offset that platform’s slightly higher costs. Do the math, be honest about how often you’re likely to travel, and see what makes sense.
4. Site Niche
We’re all aware of big-box booking websites that offer accommodations all over the world. Many times though, these sites don’t have their ear to the ground in niche territories. That could mean they won’t offer smaller accommodations that are celebrated by locals or that they won’t have a beat on specials going on at quaint hotels.
In these cases, niche hotel booking sites can be helpful.
If you’re traveling to Jordan, for example, see if any booking sites based in Jordan could give you less advertised accommodation options. You may find savings through these providers and might enjoy a more authentic stay.
5. Refund Policies
Travel plans change, particularly in today’s world of COVID-19.
You want to do business with a booking partner that appreciates that reality and is willing to offer you the flexibility you need to book your hotel rooms with confidence.
The vast majority of online hotel booking sites are being COVID-conscious and have offered their customers liberal refund and/or trip change leverage. Some haven’t though.
You’ll want to stay away from those until global travel becomes more stable.
6. Accepted Payment Methods
This tip for finding the best online booking sites for hotels applies mostly to niche booking websites. Some more quaint operations may ask for antiquated, insecure payment means like personal checks or your bank routing numbers.
Don’t give out that information online unless you’re 100% sure who you’re doing business with is secure.
Always aim to use a credit card to book online travel since credit cards offer simple dispute processes and offer a buffer between vendors and your personal bank accounts.
7. Native Currency
If a booking website charges your payment method in their native currency, you may be subjected to a currency exchange fee. This happens often in international travel so, if possible, use a payment method that doesn’t have foreign exchange fees or go with a booking site that makes charges in your currency.
Exchange fees tend to range anywhere from 1% to 3%.
8. More Than Just Hotels
Booking hotels is great. But what about planes, cars, and experiences? Are you going to need any of those things booked for your travels?
If you are, explore sites that offer more than just hotels. It may be that they can extend to your special package pricing for purchasing multiple travel elements.
Finding the Best Online Booking Sites for Hotels Is Worth Your Time
We get that finding the best online booking sites for hotels takes work. Given that effort, shouldn’t you be okay with doing business with the booking brand you’re most familiar with?
In our opinion, the answer to that question is a resounding no!
By taking the time to explore your online booking options, you allow yourself to find great deals that could save you hundreds of dollars on your trip.
Those are savings that are worth pursuing so start exploring your options today and feel free to dive deeper into our blog’s content pool for more travel tips!