When going online to book a Belize hotel booking, it's likely that travel shoppers will browse discount sites to find the best deal. Sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com that miraculously cut the advertised price of a room in Belize by half. But are these sites too good to be true? Are people really getting the deal they think they're getting? Here are a few dirty little secrets about discount Online Travel Agent or OTA sites which is important to Resort Marketing pros.
They'll get you in the fine print.
When booking my week long stay in Chicago, I found a great deal on a discount site. Somewhere near 65% off of the advertised room rate per night in a swanky downtown hotel. I was so excited to find such a steal that I immediately booked. When the bill arrived at the end of my stay, I was shocked to see that one of my seven nights was charged at the full price. When I asked the front desk about the different rate, I was told that it was standard procedure and that if I wanted to protest, I needed to talk to OTA site that I booked through. Ultimately, the fault was on me for not reading the fine print, but it still felt pretty slimy.
You may be treated like a second class citizen; whether you're a guest or a resort owner.
The front desk can see how you booked your room through their system. There are many accounts from hotel insiders who say that those who book through a discount site are often given the short end of the stick: smaller rooms, fewer amenities, parking lot views, and complex cancelation procedures just to name a few. Think that's bad? Try being a resort owner. Click here to read the horror stories from a couple who owns a small resort off the coast of Mexico. There story is just one of many that can be found with the same general theme: Discount sites aren't on the side of the resort or the consumer, they're in it for themselves.
Why, you may ask, do resorts choose to put their Belize rooms on discount sites at all? They essentially have to. No, the OTA sites are not banging down their doors or forcing them to advertise on their sites, but it is becoming more and more standard to be listed on sites such as these. Small resorts often don't have a large budget for internet marketing, and because placing their hotels on these sites is typically free or very cheap, it makes sense for the amount of exposure they get initially
You may not be getting the best rate.
Certainly the most appealing part of using a discount site is, well, the discount. But the reality is, you can get that same advertised rate by booking the hotel directly. The best tactic is to do your shopping on OTA discount sites and then contact the hotel directly to discuss the rate. By doing this, you'll not only receive that same discounted rate, you'll also skip out on the fees associated with using the discount site.
Read about how Belize Resort Owners can better engage online travel shoppers with smarter marketing.
Which leads nicely into the next point…
You're cheating owners out of their cut.
Did you know that sites like Expedia and Travelocity charge commission for rooms booked through their site? The resort is often charged up to 25% of the cost of the room in commission off of an already discounted rate. While this may not be a huge concern for the Holiday Inns and Marriotts of the world, this is a significant loss for small resort owners. To ensure that the resort that you choose can continue to provide exceptional service, maintain the grounds, and pay the wages of the staff, call the resort directly and cut out the middle man.
The moral of the story here is that just because it's not the most convenient or technologically advanced way of doing things, calling the hotel and making a human connection can really outweigh the perceived benefits of using a discount site. All in all, when booking your Belize vacation, go old school so that you and the resort can reap all of the benefits.
Had a discount site nightmare? Share it in the comments below.