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Is It Better to Book Hotels Directly? Pros and Cons for Travellers

By Nikita Nielsen · 29. April 2024

Is it better to book hotels directly or through a third party?

This blog post dives into the real advantages of booking directly with hotels, compares them to the convenience of third-party booking sites, and offers info to help you decide what’s best for your travel plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Booking hotels directly often gets you better perks, like exclusive offers, personalised service, and loyalty rewards. Plus, the pricing tends to be more transparent.
  • Direct bookings can come with a Best Rate Guarantee, meaning you could score a lower room rate or price matching compared to third-party sites.
  • Third-party sites might be the way to go for those who love comparing prices or want bundle deals. But keep in mind, direct bookings generally offer more flexibility and convenience.

The Advantages of Direct Hotel Bookings

online hotel accommodation booking website online hotel accommodation booking website

Why do most people prefer to make their hotel reservations directly?

It’s not just a matter of preference, but also about potential benefits and savings they can enjoy.

Opting for direct hotel bookings frequently opens the door to exclusive offers, personalised service, and loyalty rewards that might not be available through third-party travel agencies.

Booking directly with hotels also means you can often avoid unwanted hidden fees or extra costs that can pop up when booking through third-party platforms.

Plus, direct bookings often have more accommodating cancellation policies and flexible change policies, giving you peace of mind during your trip.

Unlock Exclusive Offers and Room Upgrades

The ability to access exclusive offers🏆 and room upgrades is one of the most attractive incentives to book directly with hotels via hotel websites.

Hotels love to reward their direct bookers with benefits such as discounts on their stays or even value-added packages like dinner combined with a spa stay.

But the benefits don’t end there. Some hotels extend their offerings by including experiences like trips and excursions, spa treatments, or sports activities when you book directly.

So, you’re not just reserving a room; you’re creating your own distinctive journey.

Personalised Service From the Get-Go

Cheerful woman with breakfast on tray in hotel bedroom Cheerful woman with breakfast on tray in hotel bedroom

Another benefit of direct hotel bookings is the possibility of more tailored service and better communication.

Booking directly allows you to:

  • Skip intermediaries for a smoother and more customised experience
  • Easily communicate any special special requests or needs
  • Get personalised advice and suggestions from knowledgeable hotel staff

Moreover, customer service via an online travel agency can sometimes be challenging due to limited availability and reduced customer service.

On the flip side, direct bookings provide you the benefit of personalised attention and direct communication with the hotel.

Loyalty Rewards and Points

small surprise gift box for hotel guest small surprise gift box for hotel guest

Who doesn’t love rewards? Booking directly with hotels is actually a great opportunity to earn loyalty rewards and points.

These points can then be used to improve your overall hotel experience.

For example, by implementing a smart credit card strategy, you can collect hotel points, especially when using a card linked to the hotel’s loyalty program🎖️.

This means you’re not only enjoying your current stay, but also building up points for future perks.

Price Myths: Direct Booking vs. Online Travel Agencies

A common misconception is that online travel agencies always offer cheaper hotel prices compared to direct booking options.

But is this really the case? Let’s discover the truth about hotel prices.

Despite what many believe, hotels sometimes offer lower rates on their own websites than what’s listed on online travel agencies.

Booking directly with hotels can come with a Best Price Guarantee, ensuring customers receive the lowest possible rate. So, don’t be misled by the notion that travel agencies always offer the best prices, because sometimes you can find the best deal by booking directly.

The Truth About the Best Rate Guarantee

best price guarantee best price guarantee

Hotels frequently offer a Best Rate Guarantee to guests who book directly, which means they guarantee to provide the lowest price available at the time of booking.

But how does this work exactly?

A Best Rate Guarantee policy in hotels guarantees that if a guest finds a lower rate for the same room on another website, the hotel will usually match that rate or even offer a lower price.

This insurance gives guests peace of mind that they are getting the best possible deal when booking directly with the hotel.

Keep in mind that in order to benefit from the Best Price Guarantee, you’ll need to meet specific conditions, such as finding a rate for the same hotel, date, room type, number of guests, and currency.

Comparing Costs: Hidden Fees and Booking Fees

One aspect that often goes unnoticed when making reservations through online travel agencies is the possibility of hidden fees.

Hotel-related fees cost travellers approximately $3 billion annually, indicating a significant financial impact.

Travellers can often experience unexpected costs at check-in because of mandatory resort fees that weren’t clearly disclosed during the online booking process.

On the other hand, direct bookings tend to be more transparent about these fees, making the final cost of your stay more predictable. So, it’s important to always be on the lookout for any hidden charges when comparing prices!

Why Hotels Tend to Offer Better Deals Directly

Why do hotels often provide better offers for direct bookings?

Hotels often offer better deals on direct bookings simply because they have a financial incentive to do so.

By avoiding commissions to third-party websites, hotels can protect their profits. That’s why it’s logical for hotels to encourage direct bookings by providing more attractive offers.

Furthermore, hotels often offer exclusive promotions like special discounts🏷️ and extra benefits such as complimentary services to guests who make reservations directly through their website.

Therefore, you’re not just potentially saving money, but getting more value for your money.

The Convenience Factor: Ease of Making and Managing Your Reservation Directly

When it comes to making travel reservations, convenience is key. The simpler the process, the better. This is where direct bookings outshine the rest.

Booking directly with a hotel allows guests to tailor their reservation, whether it’s specifying room preferences or addressing specific needs like allergies or accessibility requirements.

In addition, direct bookings provide access to the most up-to-date information, detailed photos and comprehensive descriptions of services and facilities.

This ensures that travellers are well-informed about what to expect, leading to a more satisfying stay.

Instant Confirmation and Easy Amendments

One of the primary benefits of direct hotel bookings is the instant confirmation.

When you finalise a booking directly with a hotel, you receive immediate confirmation, and the hotel’s cancellation policy is clearly communicated from the beginning.

This gives you an instant peace of mind, knowing that your reservation is secured.

Additionally, direct hotel bookings offer guests the flexibility of making simple changes to reservations, encompassing modifications and cancellations.

This is especially beneficial during uncertain times when travel plans may change unexpectedly, making hotel booking sites a less favourable option.

Direct Contact for Special Requests

Have special requests for your hotel stay? No problem! Booking directly allows guests to request specific room types or accessibility needs directly from the hotel.

This direct communication channel guarantees that your needs are met, making your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as can be.

Plus, for any specific requirements or inquiries, you can easily contact the hotel directly for immediate assistance.

Whether you need a hypoallergenic pillow or a hotel room with a view, direct booking can make it happen.

Streamlined Cancellation Policies

Cancellation policies are often a major concern for travellers, and understandably so. You wish to be assured that if your plans change, you won’t be stuck.

This is another area where direct bookings often excel. They typically include more flexible cancellation policies, offering ease and flexibility for travellers.

Even in the case of last-minute unexpected events such as major weather disturbances, hotels may waive cancellation fees for guests who have booked directly.

This not only provides convenience but also safeguards your wallet from unexpected charges.

When Third-Party Sites Might Make Sense

While we’ve been praising the benefits of direct bookings, it’s only fair to acknowledge that there are times when third-party sites might be a better fit.

After all, these platforms offer a broader selection of options and might be a more fitting choice for specific types of travellers.

For example, third-party travel websites can:

  • Attract a wide international customer base which individual hotels might not reach as effectively.
  • Serve as a convenient option for comparison shoppers who want to evaluate options across multiple hotels.
  • Be a go-to choice for travellers who prefer package deals that include flights, accommodation, and sometimes additional services in a single purchase.

For the Comparative Shopper

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys comparing prices across multiple hotels before deciding, third-party sites can prove quite handy.

These platforms serve as a marketplace for comparative shoppers to evaluate options across various hotels and find the best deal.

Furthermore, the competition among online travel agencies and booking sites often leads to different prices for the same accommodations.

So, if you enjoy weighing your options and scoring great prices, third-party sites might be the perfect fit for you.

Bundling for Discounts

Another benefit of using a third party website is the option to bundle hotel accommodations with other travel services like flights or car rentals.

This can result in overall cost reductions on a trip, a definite plus for all the budget-conscious travellers.

For instance, when booking hotel rooms in combination with airline tickets, third-party sites may offer package deals that result in lower costs compared to booking each service separately.

Even credit card companies offer rewards and savings for bookings made through their dedicated travel portals, which often include options to bundle hotels with rental cars.

Tips for Booking Your Next Hotel Stay

Now that you know the ins and outs of direct bookings and third-party sites, let’s provide you with some insider tips for your next hotel reservation.

These tips are designed to navigate you effortlessly through the booking process and ensure you get the best deal and reap maximum benefits.

From reading the fine print to leveraging elite status and loyalty programs, these suggestions will allow you to get the most out of your hotel booking adventure.

Reading the Fine Print

We’ve all been there.You’re about to confirm your booking when suddenly, it catches your eye: the fine print.

While the urge to skim over it is strong, ignoring it could lead to financial consequences later on.

Cancellation policies often come with distinct conditions separate from the general terms, and hidden charges might not be immediately obvious.

Additionally, hotel bookings may include mandatory resort fees for amenities like gym access or internet.

These fees are usually non-refundable or non-negotiable, even if you don’t use the services. So always take the time to read the fine print to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Checking for Price Match Policies

Another useful tip is to check the price match policies when booking hotels. Some hotels offer a price match guarantee, meaning if you find a lower price for the same room on another website within a specific time after booking, the hotel will refund the difference.

Keep in mind that price match requests often need to be submitted before check-in day and may not be accepted on arrival day.

Additionally, price match may not apply to certain types of rates or bookings, such as members-only rates, package deals or “blind bookings” where the identity of the hotel is not revealed until after payment.

Leveraging Elite Status and Loyalty Programs

Finally, remember to take advantage of your elite status or loyalty membership when making hotel reservations.

Hotel loyalty programs often offer different levels of elite statuses to their members, with higher statuses coming with a range of additional benefits.

The perks of higher elite statuses can include room upgrades and late checkout options, enriching your hotel stay. So, if you’re part of a hotel’s loyalty program, make sure you take advantage of these benefits to enhance your stay.


As we’ve seen, while third-party sites can offer various options and package deals, direct bookings often come with better deals, more flexible policies, and exclusive perks.

But ultimately, the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you value convenience, cost savings, or unique benefits, it’s essential to be well-informed and understand the benefits and potential pitfalls of each option.

So, when planning your next trip, consider booking directly with the hotel.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some benefits of booking directly with a hotel?

Booking directly with a hotel can offer exclusive offers, personalised service, and loyalty rewards, as well as help you avoid hidden fees and enjoy more flexible cancellation policies.

Do hotels always offer lower rates on their websites compared to online travel agencies (OTAs)?

Yes, hotels often offer lower rates on their own websites, and some even have a Best Price Guarantee to ensure you get the lowest rate. So, it’s a good idea to check the hotel’s website for the best deals.

What are some advantages of third-party sites?

Using third-party sites for travel can give you more options for comparison and the chance to save money by bundling services together. It’s a good way to find the best fit for your trip.

What are some tips for booking my next hotel stay?

When booking your next hotel stay, be sure to read the fine print for cancellation policies and hidden fees, check for price match policies, and leverage any elite status or loyalty memberships you have. This will help ensure you get the best deal and avoid any unexpected costs.

What is a Best Rate Guarantee?

A Best Rate Guarantee is a policy that some hotels offer guests who book directly, ensuring that if the guest finds a lower room rate on another website for the same hotel stay and the same date, the hotel will match that rate and maybe even give an additional discount. This could save you money on your hotel booking.

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