These days, it’s more convenient to make your travel plan on your own. If you have time to research, it’s infinitely easier and cheaper than going through a travel agent.
Online, you can either book direct to your hostel/hotel or go through a booking website. The question now is, is it better to book direct or through a booking agent?
The great thing about booking websites is that you are presented with a list of available accomodations in your destination city, so you can easily compare prices. Also, some have ratings and review features, so you can read about other traveler’s experiences with the hotel’s guestrooms and services.
HotelReservations.com is one of the newest booking agents online. Aside from hotels, they also offer reservation and booking facilities for flights, cars, vacation rentals and vacation packages, making it a one-stop shop for all your holiday planning needs. Like most online booking agents, they guarantee lowest rates.
So do they have the lowest rate? I tried a reservation request for a 4 days, 3 nights stay at the Shangri-La Mactan for 3 persons sharing one room. The lowest rate HotelReservations.com can give me is $198 per night, while a check at Shangri-La’s own website gives me a rate of $253 for the same room class.
However, there is a big difference when you look at the total bill, which includes the taxes and other charges. Shangri-La charges 22.50% tax, VAT and service charge, as stated in their website, totalling to $171.20, which brings the grand total for the room and taxes to $930.20.
At $198 per night, our total with HotelReservations.com is $594. They charge $394.32 for Tax Recovery Charges and Service Fees, bringing the grand total to $988.32.
HotelReservations.com‘s concept is good. With their simple design and easy navigation, it’s a user friendly website that will appeal to non-techies. However, the Internet is pretty saturated with similar websites, so they have to really step up to gain an edge over the others. Right now, the website seems unfinished, as description and pictures of some hotels aren’t available yet. They also have to be clear as to the inclusion in the hotel accommodations, as well as the charges imposed by the hotel and by the website.
Since HotelReservations.com is fairly new, I’m sure a lot is in the works on improving the website. Once the kinks are sorted out, they can probably easily compete with other online booking sites.