Booking sites: The ups and downs

Hotels-they’re the focal point of every vacation. Every time a family or couple plans a special getaway-a weekend or longer, finding the right hotel is the number one priority. The right hotel pertains to the right rate, the right amenities, with adequate distance to local points of interest. Booking sites including Hotels.com and Booking.com are the two best sites for avid travelers to visit. They make life easy. However, the sky isn’t always so blue. Booking sites have their ups and downs. What are they?

Going up?:

Freedom of choice: When visiting a booking site such as Booking.com, the smorgasbord of hotel choices is right there at one’s fingertips. There are three-star, four-star, and even five-star hotels to choose from. There’s a wide variety of popular hotel names to choose from, rather than scouring one hotel brand web site after another. Best of all, travelers get to choose hotels that have the proper amenities, at the same time-within appropriate distance from public transportation and area attractions.

Freedom of comparison: It’s not always about the amenities and local transportation. It’s all about the main idea-money. Some hotels charge high rates because of proximity to public transportation, area attractions, and the array of high-end shopping and restaurants they feature, both on premises and in the neighborhood. Some hotels charge less because they’re outside the dense confines of the city.

Freedom of availability: Visiting a booking site is an experience like no other. What makes any booking site a great experience is the blessing of availability. If a traveler is looking to spend no more than $300.00 for a two-night stay, booking sites do just that. They even show an assortment of hotels with various styles of rooms matching a customer’s specifications. It’s hotel room shopping without the headache.

Going down!:

Complications with payment: The biggest disadvantage is making payments. Some hotels require the customer to pre-pay. Some hotels offer free cancellations without penalty. Prepayment is a good choice, however, the traveler must be 100% sure that he/she is staying there. The minute the customer has a last minute change of plans, getting a refund becomes a song and a dance. The finger pointing between the hotel and the booking site ensues. Worst of all, the runaround becomes infuriating.

Complications in communication: The breakdown in communication is a major disadvantage of booking sites. A short time ago, a guest booked a two-night stay in Washington, DC. One week before traveling, he immediately cancelled because of a last minute change of plans. Shamefully, he was lost in a sea of quagmire of responses between the booking site and the hotel. The booking site’s representatives sent multiple reminders to the hotel regarding a refund. The hotel never responded. The booking site representative suggested to the customer to call the hotel to discuss the situation with them. The hotel immediately instructed the customer to take it up with the booking site. Ultimately, the customer called his credit card and got a full refund via dispute. The customer service is downright poor.

Complication with cancellation policy: Once customers have booked a reservation through a booking site, it is difficult to cancel, change dates, or hotels. Booking sites may have cheaper rates, but they also include plentiful fine print and red tape. Additionally, it is always harder to solve issues with a middle man involved. It’s a wiser choice to book directly via the hotel company for all their needs, including making changes.

For some travelers, searching for an ideal hotel for an overnight stay, weekend getaway, or a full week of R & R is easy. Once the customer has his/her idea of where and when, the next step is as a quick trip to a favorite booking site. The customer finds the right hotel, with the right amenities, at a reasonable cost. It seems like a win-win situation, but the downside will surface. There are disadvantages which require travelers’ undivided attention. Booking sites have their complications. They’re complicated regarding communication, making payments, and dealing with cancellations. The moment a problem arises, the guest becomes stranded in a land of confusion. No traveler deserves to encounter such issues. Booking directly, in the long run, is the path to traveling with ease, unlike traveling with never-ending aggravation.

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