The Internet has given us the power to make better decisions with readily available information at our fingertips. You can compare and contrast Boracay vacation options without needing to call up airlines, hotels, and restaurants. You simply have to go online, browse on travel websites and blogs, and voila! You can assess companies and their offerings. But this convenience has its downside. Using the service of an Online Travel Agency (OTA) can be overwhelming. You get swamped with hundreds, or even thousands, of choices. Having options is good, but having way too many choices can be distressing. Consider direct booking in which you get in touch with a hotel without the OTA “middleman.” Aside from sparing yourself from clicking through pages for hours, you can enjoy discounts and freebies, among others.
Here are 7 compelling reasons why direct booking is the best way to plan a Boracay trip.
John and Annie have made a pact to make the most of their retirement years by visiting new places once every quarter. Both are in their mid-60s, but age hasn't dampened their enthusiasm for new experiences. John and Annie are not your typical grandparents. They own smartphones, actively connect with family and friends via social media, and spend a lot of their time reading blogs. “For our first two trips, we booked our hotels through a travel website where you get to browse through a long list of accommodations. They have everything from hotels to private homes leased out to travelers. It was okay at first, but there were just too many choices,” Annie said. Direct booking saves you the time and effort hunting for the “best” deal. Choose a premier Boracay hotel and you're all set.
Most OTAs and booking websites prohibit their partner hotels from getting information on customers. Booking.com, for an instance, stopped sharing customer emails. On its face, this policy seems to be in your favor. Customer data is important for companies in ensuring that they're delivering topnotch customer service. How else can they know if you're satisfied with their service if they can't at least ask you for your feedback? Moreover, customer service doesn't start on your check-in nor does it end on your check-out. By directly booking your stay in Boracay, your hotel can ensure you a memorable experience from the airport to your way back home.
Do you know that you're likely waiving your entitlement to promos by booking via OTAs? A global hotel chain claimed that a staggering 1.6 millions free nights were unearned in 2015 because of bookings through OTAs or third-party travel websites. Companies such as hotels and airlines offer various promos to customers who opt for direct booking. Another hotel and resorts company promised to match OTA rates lower than their offering plus free Wi-Fi and digital key. Alta Vista de Boracay gives away huge discounts on reservation fees for direct bookings. Moreover, you cannot earn points, which you can use to cover future hotel bills, if you're not booking directly.
If you think that you're saving money by scoring cheap deals via OTAs, you might be mistaken. OTAs can be convenient. They're especially handy when you're looking for unconventional accommodations such as private residences and couches-for-rent. But OTAs are businesses that exist for profit. They earn from commissions extended by their partner establishments. How much is topped up on the regular price? You'll never know. Even if the price offered in an OTA platform and the hotel's website is similar, the latter extends discounts the former cannot. Also, hotels and inns that give OTAs higher commissions understandably get better exposure on their websites.
When booking through an OTA, you may need to bring extra cash with you. Rico learned the hard way. “I booked in a hotel on a booking website and paid with my credit card thinking that everything's settled. When I arrived at the hotel, I was surprised to know that the resort fees, housekeeping and other fees were not covered in the amount quoted on the booking website,” Rico said. OTAs are likely to use ambiguous words such as “additional fees may apply” when quoting prices. This makes it appear as if booking through them is cheaper than going directly to the hotel. By direct booking, you save yourself from the hassle (and humiliation) of not knowing about the additional fees. Hotels are expected to give accurate information on their rates and charges.
Going through OTA platforms has its positive points. You can compare and contrast offerings. Your options are not limited to hotels. There are ads for guesthouses, B&B's, and homestays. These are especially appealing for backpackers who are in for a little bit of thrill. But for Jessica, a mother of two young kids, choosing a safe and secure accommodation is a top consideration. “I've tried browsing through the beautiful photos of guesthouses and inns on a travel website. Yes, they're enticing. But I'm not traveling alone. I have two little children to think about. I can't risk their safety in an inn that I only get to know about online,” Jessica explained. Don't just opt for direct booking; go for a safe and reputable hotel.
Kim once used an OTA platform to book a room in a Boracay resort. “It was the peak season and I knew that the competition for cheap accommodation was stiff. I booked a room through an online booking website. Everything went well until 2 days before my trip –my boss decided to send me to an urgent work assignment,” Kim shared. “When I tried canceling by reservation, the booking website refused to refund my money.” Booking directly with your hotel entitles you to preferential service. Most hotels allow their guests to cancel their reservation until 1 day before arrival for free. Guests may also reschedule their vacation without extra charges.
OTAs are not the villains here. In fact, these platforms suit some travelers perfectly. It's good that you know your options: OTAs and direct booking. It always pays to be an informed traveler.