A Travel Agent Tells Us The Best Tip For Booking A Hotel Room

Decisions, decisions. That's what it all comes down to when you're planning a vacation. From choosing your destination to budgeting, it can be all-consuming. Arguably, one of the most imperative parts of this process is finding accommodations. While Airbnb once reigned supreme, Which? data showed hotels are becoming an affordable option for travelers. But with countless hotel booking sites like Expedia, Trivago, Kayak, and more, it can be challenging to know the right one to use. This, coupled with figuring out the best time to book your hotel, can overwhelm consumers.

Enter Victoria Fricke, an Indiana-based travel agent with Vic's Vacations. Fricke, who previously spoke to Explore about fake AI-generated travel guides, spoke exclusively to us again and shared some insight to consider when booking a hotel room and one of her best tips. Although it might be surprising news to many, Fricke says that price-wise, different hotel booking sites will offer similar deals but said, "Pricing is something that fluctuates daily based on availability."

She goes on to explain, "Booking engines and websites bank on one thing: consumers returning for ease. Most consumers won't compare between multiple sites — they go to one, look over options, and book. I would advise doing just the opposite. Compare!" As for the best tip, Fricke says that if consumers want more bang for their buck, they should ditch hotel booking sites altogether and book directly with a hotel.

The perks of booking directly with a hotel

While Booking directly with a hotel may sound like an old-fashioned idea, Victoria Fricke told us that unless you have a travel advisor, booking directly is the way to go. She notes that it has its advantages over popular hotel booking sites. "Your bedding is guaranteed. When you use a third-party site, your selection on that website doesn't always transfer to the hotel." Plus, booking directly with a hotel usually means there will be more flexibility with cancellation policies, according to Fricke.

Furthermore, there's less chance of surprise fees or commission rates. Additionally, there are also loyalty programs to consider. Fricke said, "Remember, if you are someone focused on points, hotels, and airlines prefer you booking direct and will reward you for doing so, putting you higher on upgrade lists!"

But how does Fricke think you should go about booking your hotel? She provides a scenario to explain. "Let's take a trip to Chicago, for example. The average consumer will go to Priceline — compare location/pricing/amenities and book. Maybe they select a Hilton property."

"The next step I advise clients to do would be to go to Hilton's website directly and compare that same room. If the room is the same price — book direct. If it is more: pick up the phone and call Hilton... they will price match." In short, you can use hotel booking sites to your advantage even if you decide against booking accommodations through them.