The internet has paved the way for lots of new 'hotel booking agents' to spring up, so how does it work?
1) Some agents buy hotel stock
Some agents agree an allocation of rooms each night with the hotel. That means that when you book, your room is guaranteed - but they can't allocate you a specific room e.g. if you love room 20 for its views or because it has wheelchair access, agents can't automatically allocate you this. It has to be done within the hotel's system.
2) Some agents simply agree a price but no allocation
Some agents will agree a price but when you book they will send the request to the hotel - this way you can't guarantee a room and run the risk of being booked out, or later finding out your 'booking' is not actually a booking at all if there are no rooms available! You may not receive a confirmation. Indeed the hotel may not receive your booking request at all from the agent leaving everyone fuming!
3) Best Available Rate
Some agents use the hotel's Best Available Rate, this is a rate that fluctuates daily, set by the hotel. The agent simply pulls the data through to their website, making it the same as booking direct. The hotel pays the agent for the privilege of promoting the room. The customer assumes the booking has been made there and then but there are lots of things going on in the background to ensure the booking is in the hotel's system. The confirmation comes from the booking agent. Special requests are noted but can't be guaranteed or discussed through an online agent - you'd need to ring the hotel direct.
4) Best Available Rate +
Some agents take the hotel's daily rate (through another 3rd party) and add their own cut on top, meaning the customer loses out by paying more. You might not have heard of the booking website, know where they are based (they may be outside the UK) or who indeed you've paid money to. They might say things like 'best price' or 'last room' when in fact both of these statements could be untrue. The problem is the lack of regulation of such websites.
5) Wholesale Prices
Some travel agents buy room stock on a group booking basis for specific dates and a lot of rooms at a reduced rate. They then charge the customer what they like for these rooms. They usually package them up e.g. theatre breaks, coach tours.
6) Wholesale Prices +
Some agents take wholesale prices and add their own mark up - charging whatever they want. Many of these are based outside of the UK and don't list the correct hotel information. Rates are often converted from alternative currencies and so fluctuate. They sometimes don't include breakfast... Are you really sure what you're buying?
If you want a hotel room - cut through the confusion and book direct. Here's the benefit of booking direct with Holdsworth House:
- Avoid any confusion over who has the best rate - we always have the best rate direct
- Ensure your booking is in the hotel's system
- Receive a confirmation from the hotel
- Have more flexible booking and cancellation terms
- Have a full cooked breakfast, parking, wifi and VAT included in the room price
- Know who you have paid and who has got your money!
- Ensure any special requests or add ons e.g. specific rooms, Champagne and chocolates in the room etc are dealt with.