You’ve probably heard a story, whether from one of your friends or someone on the internet, about something catastrophic happening after they booked a hotel through an online travel agency (OTA).
Maybe their flight was canceled and they were put on hold for hours and hours, stuck in the airport with nowhere to go. Maybe they were overcharged and then ignored. Or maybe, like one of our coworkers, they showed up to their hotel, only to find out the room they booked no longer existed.
Today we’re going to share the story of one of our very own who experienced firsthand the trials of booking with an OTA.
Maribeth’s Nightmare Hotels.com Experience
Maribeth was traveling alone to Dallas, Texas. It was one of her first business trips. She was meeting clients at the children’s hospital and needed to find a hotel as close to the hospital as possible. After browsing some options, she booked a room at a Marriott right across the street from the hospital, making the reservation on Hotels.com.
She arrived in Dallas at 11 p.m. the night before the meeting, ready to go straight to her room and get some sleep before an early start the next day. But, when she got to the front desk, they told her that she no longer had a reservation. The air conditioning had broken on one side of the hotel, so they had to move many of their guests to another property. They said they tried to contact her to let her know about the malfunction, but they didn’t have any of her contact information because the reservation had been made through an OTA. Hotels.com hadn’t passed that information on to them.
Maribeth attempted to negotiate with the front desk, trying to land herself a spot in their limited available space. While she was waiting, another woman checked in and was able to get a room. When she asked why that woman was able to keep her room, they told Maribeth that it was because the other guest had booked directly with the hotel instead of going through a third-party service like Maribeth had. She was floored.
“I never thought that booking through an OTA would make any difference to the hotel, or to the outcome of my experience.”Maribeth, previous Hotels.com user
She realized she’d have to find somewhere else to stay that night and asked for a refund, but the Marriott told her she hadn’t paid yet. Of course, she’d already paid for the room through Hotels.com, but they didn’t pass that information along to the hotel either. To prove her point, Maribeth referenced her bank statements to confirm that she had indeed paid. Once they saw those, the Marriott said they would make sure Hotels.com refunded her. Smartly, Maribeth asked the Marriott to that put it in writing. Luckily, Hotels.com called an hour later to let her know they were refunding her money.
The Marriott rerouted her reservation to an ALOFT hotel across town. She was grateful for the room, but it was further from her destination. She had to take an Uber back and forth for her meeting rather than walk across the street. Worse, she was sleep deprived during her meeting because of the booking nightmare that kept her up past midnight.
Lessons Learned About Always Booking Direct
Maribeth isn’t the only one with stories like this. Just search for “[insert OTA name here] horror stories,” and you’ll find more. There’s this woman, this fellow, and these folks who all had bad experiences because they booked their travel through a third-party site.
While Maribeth luckily ended up finding a room for the night, she recalls that the experience was eye-opening. When she got back to her office a few days later, she told her coworkers what had happened, and none of them were surprised by her experience. One said that’s why he always books directly with the hotel, never with an OTA. After all, that’s why the other woman was able to keep her reservation. They all mentioned favorite hotel chains, always booking their trips on the hotel’s own website.
That day, Maribeth signed up for a hotel loyalty program, and she hasn’t looked back. Now she is confident that her reservation will be secure, or—in the worst-case scenario—that the hotel will contact her directly if something changes. She also earns rewards with every hotel stay, which is nice a bonus when traveling for work or leisure. Even better, she gets access to discounted rates by being a loyalty member.
Booking Through Roomkey = Booking Directly with the Hotel
If you want to be like Maribeth, earning sweet reward points and writing off OTAs forever, then Roomkey is for you. On roomkey.com, you can do everything you can do on an OTA website: see your hotel options, check availability, and screen by amenities and location. But, our biggest advantage over our OTAs is that when you book your room through Roomkey, you’re booking directly with the hotel, not with a third-party service.
After you’ve searched through all of our partner hotels and found the perfect property for your next trip, we’ll immediately transfer you to the hotel’s own website to complete your booking. This means the hotel will get all your information so they can contact you if they need to. They’ll also be more able to refund you or change your reservation at your request. Bottom line: the hotel will be more able to accommodate your specific needs because you’re working with them directly.
Roomkey is also unlike OTAs because we’re the only hotel comparison site that allows you to compare the discounted rates that hotels offer their loyalty members. You’ll score low rates and all kinds of bonus perks too. To us, that’s a no-brainer. Don’t make yourself another OTA horror story. If you want to keep your reservations, receive the best customer service, and know you’re in good hands, book your next hotel stay through Roomkey.
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