Online Travel Sites' Dirty Little Secrets

Online travelThe next time you find yourself on a travel website, ask yourself if you're getting the best deal.

On the surface, it certainly seems that way. Priceline.com's (PCLN) William Shatner pops up to let you know that the fast-growing website is scouring competing rates to serve up the biggest bargains. And how can the Travelocity lawn gnome steer you wrong?

These days -- especially when most of the major websites have eliminated the booking fees that savvy travelers could have sidestepped by booking directly -- there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaning on traditional travel portals.

However, it's important to be careful and thorough to make sure that you're getting the most bang for your buck.



Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, HomeAway, priceline.com, and Southwest Airlines, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft.

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Heddi Cundle

Interesting reading and comes to light how mytab dot co is productive - eliminating the stress in hunting around for days trying to find the best deal since our model is based on saving travel cash & having friends & family gift travel cash for occasion based trips, to redeem towards travels. It came to light last year that 89% of customers, at the time of about to press 'book it' decided to double check elsewhere. That shows how time & cost ineffective scrambling around for deals is proving, hence why myTab.co was created.

March 01 2012 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Heddi Cundle

Interesting reading and comes to light how mytab dot co is productive - eliminating the stress in hunting around for days trying to find the best deal since our model is based on saving travel cash & having friends & family gift travel cash for occasion based trips, to redeem towards travels. It came to light last year that 89% of customers, at the time of about to press 'book it' decided to double check elsewhere. That shows how time & cost ineffective scrambling around for deals is proving, hence why myTab.co was created.

March 01 2012 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Heddi Cundle

Interesting reading and comes to light how www.mytab.co is productive - eliminating the stress in hunting around for days trying to find the best deal since our model is based on saving travel cash & having friends & family gift travel cash for occasion based trips, to redeem towards travels. It came to light last year that 89% of customers, at the time of about to press 'book it' decided to double check elsewhere. That shows how time & cost ineffective scrambling around for deals is proving, hence why myTab.co was created.

March 01 2012 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aaron Allison

As someone who works in the hospitality industry, I can agree with most of what is being said here on the hotel front. Check the net-rates first (orbitz, expedia, etc.) then just call the hotel directly. 9 times out of 10 they would be happy to offer you a better rate, as they are almost always still paying a middle man to accept that net-rate booking. If more consumers book directly with a hotel, the cost of providing that reservation drops as well, and therefore the rates can get lower and lower. Whenever you involve a middleman, someone is going to pay extra.

March 01 2012 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Aaron Allison's comment
Heddi Cundle

Also Interesting reading and comes to light how mytab.co is productive - eliminating the stress in hunting around for days trying to find the best deal since our model is based on saving travel cash & having friends & family gift travel cash for occasion based trips, to redeem towards travels. It came to light last year that 89% of customers, at the time of about to press 'book it' decided to double check elsewhere. That shows how time & cost ineffective scrambling around for deals is proving, hence why myTab.co was created.

March 01 2012 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aaron Allison

As someone who works in the hospitality industry, I can agree with most of what is being said here on the hotel front. Check the net-rates first (orbitz, expedia, etc.) then just call the hotel directly. 9 times out of 10 they would be happy to offer you a better rate, as they are almost always still paying a middle man to accept that net-rate booking. If more consumers book directly with a hotel, the cost of providing that reservation drops as well, and therefore the rates can get lower and lower. Whenever you involve a middleman, someone is going to pay extra.

March 01 2012 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
silveradotrading

Heres another hint: If you shop around, clear your cookies before searching a site a sceond time. The prices will sometimes go down. I have found that some sites seem to track your return and up the prices a little when you search the same site again. I have cleared my cookies and then returned to a site to see the prices back at original offers.

March 01 2012 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stroppelfamily

Well, as a person who loves to travel, and does so many times a year, The BEST deal is NEVER on the same site! You truly have to be a savvy shopper! I've been planning a vacation for months. I have learned, when you first decide to take the trip........ START looking then! I plan on going to Puerto Vallerta for 10 days. My first site was Travelocity. I was quoted $4238. for a 8 nights with 2 standard rooms and airfare. I then went to Orbitz, Priceline, Kayak, Bookit, ect., they all pull from the same "blocks" of rooms and airlines seats. The prices varied between 3998 - 4802. Keep in mind this was for the same Hotel, same room type, (the airline varied). I would long in and spend about fifteen min in the morning and again in the evening, every other day and check prices... I knew they would go down.....(at least i hoped). What happened was the prices started going higher! I found that Tuesdays and Wednesday late night was the BEST time, to get the best rates. I started to feel like a blow it by not booking sooner because the package deal was just climbing.... so it occurred to me to go the Hotel and Airlines websites. By doing this i found that what was driving the price so high was one (1) day! The departure date from the airline was driving up the package deal !!! So i got smart, I changed the arrival and departure dates! I added two days to the vacation!!! Leave a day earlier and come home a day later!!! While I was on American Airlines website, I realized the had a vacation section, I entered my new dates and choose my favorite hotel and........ Drumroll!!!! It was CHEAPER than EVERYWHERE else! I went and ran the new date on all the other websites and Americans Airlines Vacations was still cheaper!!! BY $600.00!!!!! AND i found a promo code online (TENOFF) and used it to book the package. I even UPGRADED both rooms to SUITES used the PROMO CODE and my total for 10 days in Puetro Vallerta staying to two beach front suites with kitchenette and patio over the Ocean for $3328.00!! All taxes and everything included! If i would of just took the standard rooms (no kitchenettes, no balcony over looking the ocean) It would of been $2997.00! My point here is this, Look around for your deals, they are there! Go back to the airlines websites, they really can be cheaper and offer better flights that are not advertised on wholesale websites. I had fun doing this, because i love the Rush of getting a good deal! Now, with the money i saved I can swim with the dolphins and get a nice massage! And still be able to pay for all the dinners out, for what i would of spent on just an 8 day trip bought through Travelocity, Orbitz or Priceline!

February 29 2012 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nancyrapp1

I know of a travel portal whose editor, Mary Vanmeer, will answer specific questions when you go to her site. I found www.Thriftytraveling.com some time ago and have found the site to be interesting, informative, and current. They even offer a free on-line newsletter, and have an area for questions and comments.

February 29 2012 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nancyrapp1

I know of a travel portal whose editor, Mary Vanmeer, will answer specific questions when you go to her site. I found www.Thriftytraveling.com some time ago and have found the site to be interesting, informative, and current. They even offer a free on-line newsletter, and have an area for questions and comments.

February 29 2012 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sprint

This is interesting because I have been thinking of going to Europe. I want to go to France but I want to go to more places than just Paris. I looked at travel sites and they have trips to the wine country (I'm not a fan of wine) and other places like WWII graves. i want to go to Paris, the south of France beaches and the Chunnel. There are no package deals for that. I may want to go to Rome, London and Spain if it isn't too expensive. All of the travel packages are standard with no variety or freedom to make your own schedule.

February 29 2012 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply