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The Best Way to Book Hotels
Is it better to book hotels from the hotel website directly (i.e., Hyatt.com), Expedia, Booking.com etc or using a service like American Express?
If you’re looking to get special benefits through Amex then obviously you have to book with them. If you’re staying at one of the chains where you want to earn points then book via their website. If you’re booking at a smaller property then using an OTA like Expedia, Booking.com or Hotels.com can earn you points in their own loyalty programs.
I book small European hotels directly, mostly by writing email or phoning. I always get a better rate than with the OTAs. Remember, there is always a commission with an OTA. It depends on your goals – if you book a lot of different small properties then perhaps the points with an OTA work well.
My travel is a bit different because I have several stays at these same small hotels yearly and it pays to establish relationships and book direct.
Same here, if you know you’re likely to come back to an hotel, it sometimes pay to book directly from them. They’ll give a better rate than the OTA (though not always as good as what you get through the cashback portal + the points of that OTA loyalty program) and they will often upgrade you once you become a repeat customer.
I have had experiences where because I built a relationship with a customer service team at a specific hotel, I was able to cancel rooms without cancellation fees and book rooms when they were posted as sold out online. If you need repeated flexibility at a specific hotel, it could help to call to establish a relationship.