Having been a professional truck driver and trainer for more than 30 years, I find that you never, ever know it all. There are always new things to learn. My primary goal with this blog is to help other drivers (especially newer ones) with pertinent information and tips to enable them to work happier and more safely. Guest posts, contributors and feed-back are always welcome and wanted!
Instead, I'm going to talk about reducing the expense of your hotel. You might think I'm going to give you some secret days and special sites to find fantastic deals, but you're in for a surprise.
Your best tactic for booking hotel rooms is actually to book directly with hotels themselves. I know that sounds counterintuitive when you see commercials for Priceline, Expedia and others offering amazing hotel deals, but there are some good reasons.
That isn't to say you can't use comparison sites to find cheap hotel rooms; you just don't want to use them for booking. Let's take a look at the reasons why.
1. PRICE MATCHING
Did you know that most hotels will match a competitor's prices? So, if you go on a hotel comparison site and find a great deal, but you'd rather stay in a different hotel, call up the hotel you want and see if it will price match. It probably will.
If you're considering a Marriott hotel, for example, it has the Look No Further Best Rate Guarantee that will match the lowest price and throw on a 25% discount. That's not too shabby.
Most hotels actually want you to book with them directly because it makes them more money. Third-party booking sites take a cut of their profit. If a hotel can book you directly, it can still give you a discount and make more in the end than if you booked through a third-party site.
You can also find situations where a hotel has rooms it needs to fill, and it will give you a discount to get you in the door. In some cases, you can even use a site like BackBid to get hotels to bid on your business.
Of course, booking directly with hotels isn't just good for them. When you book directly, a hotel might offer you exclusive package deals and include perks that aren't available on third-party sites. That might not save you money, but you get more value for your money. And that's not all.
2. BETTER ROOMS
It turns out that hotels reserve certain blocks of rooms for third-party sites, and those generally aren't the best ones. If you're booking directly, you might find rooms in a better location in the hotel or with better amenities as standard for the same price as the third-party ones.
Also, because you booked with the hotel directly, the hotel might be more inclined to do things like upgrade you if you're celebrating a marriage, anniversary or other special event. As I said, they want to encourage you to book directly in the future.
People who book through third parties are also more likely to be sent somewhere else if the hotel ends up overbooked. So that's something to consider.
Even if a hotel is overbooks, you might still be able to find a room on short notice. Check out theRoomer app to find people selling rooms they can't use. You can even use it to sell a room if you can't get out of your booking.
3. BETTER SERVICE
When you buy a hotel room through a third-party site, you not only limit what a hotel can do in the way of rooms, but also the way of service. For example, if you need to change your room dates or cancel, and you booked through a third party, a hotel can't work with you because it has a locked-in contract with the third party. You have to deal with the third party to change the deal, and that often doesn't work out well.
You might find yourself treated better as a direct booking as well. The staff can see how you booked your room in the computer, after all. So, you might find yourself getting things like a free breakfast or other unexpected perks.
Then there's the dreaded situation where everything about your stay goes to pieces. When you're a direct booking, the hotel can decide to not charge you for your stay or give you a larger discount.
If you're a third-party booking, however, the hotel doesn't have that option. Again, you'll need to try and get your refund from the third-party site.
How did you book your last hotel room? Have you found a difference between booking directly or through third parties? Let me know in the comments.