Which is the Best Online Travel Booking Agency?
There are hundreds of travel agencies and online booking sites which can make it hard for anyone to choose the right one. To understand the type of travel agent that you are dealing with, you have to know the 4 types of booking agents and how they operate. You can book a hotel, flight, car or holiday package via:
– An Online Travel Agency
– A Travel Search Engine / Price Comparison Site
– An Online Travel Agency that acts as the Middleman/Negotiator
– A Hotel or Hospitality Company
Online Travel Agency:
An Online Travel Agency (OTA) is a company that enables travelers to book hotels, flights, cars, holiday packages and other travel services on the internet. It is a website where you can book your travel needs in the comfort of your home. It is important to distinguish between a traditional travel agency that operates offline i.e.in rented office space (e.g. Thomas Cook offices) and an OTA. Most offline travel agencies have evolved to offer online booking services in an attempt to get a share of the internet market. More and more people are doing their travel shopping on the internet via mobile phones, tablets and laptops because it is more convenient and faster than visiting or calling the travel agent. An offline or old-fashioned travel agency that does not have an internet presence will definitely lose a lot of potential customers who will look for an alternative travel agent that offers an online booking service.
Some OTAs are not the online service of an existing travel company, but instead they specialize solely on providing an online platform for booking hotels and flights. These are OTAs like Skyscanner, Opodo, Kayak, Bing Travel and others. These online travel agencies are also known as price comparison sites or travel search engines.
Travel Search / Price Comparison Sites:
A Travel Search or Price Comparison website is a third party site that compares booking rates from online travel agencies, hotels, airlines and car hire companies. These sites have a partnership with hotel owners, airlines and travel agencies that enables them to collect updated rates for travelers who use the site. Deals and discounts are usually offered to attract customers. A Travel Search Price comparison site will organize data in a way that allows a user to find the cheapest price in a few seconds. The user is required to enter his or her search preferences, then click the search button to get results. Low-cost hotels and airlines can be found quickly without the need to browse a lot of sites. When using a price comparison site, you have to realize that the site does not offer the deals and travel products. Although some sites allow you to manage your booking, some sites take refer you to the provider for managing your bookings. The providers are the hotels, airlines, hospitality companies and car hire companies.
Online Travel Agencies that Negotiate Rates:
Online Travel Agencies like Agoda, Expedia and Priceline act as negotiators of low booking rates on behalf of customers. These are the best travel companies to use because their goal is to give you the lowest rate for a hotel or flight booking. They do this through their partnership with hotel chains, airlines, hospitality companies and car hire companies. They negotiate personally with these providers, so that you are guaranteed to get the lowest price that you see on their booking platform. These sites allow you to save money because their rates do not exceed the average price and they are a better option than booking directly with the hotel or airline.
Hotels and Hospitality Companies:
Besides using an online travel agency to book a hotel or flight, you can book directly on the hotel’s official website.However, your choice of accommodation and opportunities to save money will be limited because you are only allowed to search within the hotel’s properties or brands. To increase your choice and money-saving opportunities, you should look for a hotel group or hospitality company to make your booking. These are bigger than an independent hotel. Hospitality companies like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton own a chain of hotels and hotel companies, allowing you to choose from thousands of accommodation properties such as hotels, apartments, vacation clubs, townhouses, lodges, villas, beach resort houses, B&Bs and condos. You are able to compare rates between various hotels within a hotel group that has a wider presence in the city, country and worldwide. Hotel groups have all types of accommodation in the most popular destinations and they have a wide range of deals for customers.
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