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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains (backchannel.com) 140

Aggregators like Expedia have made us lazy -- and we may be missing out on the best deals. From a report on Backchannel: Most of us rely on metasearch engines, like Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity, which typically use dozens (sometimes as many as 200) of online travel agents, called OTAs, and aggregators to find the best deals. (A metasearch engine and an aggregator are interchangeable terms -- they both scour other sites and compile data under one roof. An OTA is an actual travel agency that actually does the booking and is the lone site responsible for everything you buy through them.) We rely on these sites because we assume they have the secret sauce -- the most powerful search engines, tweaked by superstar programmers armed with the most sophisticated algorithms -- to guide us to the cheapest options. With a single search, you can feel assured that you are paying a rock bottom price. Over time, however, the convention has flipped. As competition among the sites heated up, the hard-to-believe cheap fares required some filtering. A too-good-to-be-true fare ($99 to Europe from California) usually came with a catch (the $400, indirect, ticket home). And as the business models that on which these aggregators rely are getting tighter, the deals are getting worse. How can you be certain you're getting the lowest quote? The short answer is, you can't.
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Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains

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  • by bad-badtz-maru ( 119524 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:23AM (#54164313) Homepage

    I can tell you from working in the hotel industry... the lower priced rooms are the worst rooms. Either they're the most worn, something's wrong with the A/C, or they're adjacent to noise sources. A much better recipe for a pleasant hotel stay is to find a hotel in the general price range you're looking for, then go to the hotel site and select a room based on your budget.

    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:28AM (#54164351)

      Stop posting sense.

    • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:28AM (#54164353)

      Same goes for airfare but use multiple computers. The airlines use cookies and if you visit the same site multiple times they raise the rates on you. So look and then go to a clean computer to book it.

      • Incognito (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:42AM (#54164427)

        The airlines use cookies and if you visit the same site multiple times they raise the rates on you. So look and then go to a clean computer to book it.

        Whenever I'm looking for travel I browse first and when I decide I want to buy something, I open a Private Browsing window to search one last time for the item, to make sure they are not charging me more in the main screen... of course IP tracking could get around that but I've not seen evidence that happens yet.

        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          Anything against commercial VPNs?
          • Not at all, they just do not help with the cookies the websites drop (if I moved to a VPN using the same browser it would not help).

            It would help if they were basing anything on shared IP's, but I don't think they are doing so because (a) I've not seen that in limited testing I did a while ago, and (b) there are still enough people going through nats and things that are sharing IPs with others that I don't think they would alter price by IP... that will probably change with IPV6 though, then a VPN would be

            • IP tracking might help them sort out home networks. But entire office facilities are often behind NAT, and so everybody at the company appears to have the same IP address. Punishing employee A on a search for vacation travel because employee B also looked for the same dates wouldn't be very fair or popular.
      • Same goes for airfare but use multiple computers. The airlines use cookies and if you visit the same site multiple times they raise the rates on you. So look and then go to a clean computer to book it.

        Always have a second browser on your system to make the actual booking.

        • This is required anyways, because with a sane level of security precautions and blockers you can't order from random sites. Unless you travel a lot, it is quicker to use a "burner" browser without the blockers than it is to dredge through 125 different javascript sites to figure out what is safe to enable. And if you put the extra browsers data in /tmp then it won't even have history. But even without that step, it still won't expose your regular browser data and history (eg, banking)

          • Yup. Chrome is my whore browser. I know it'll just work with any random trash site because Chrome is a whore and lets sites do whatever they please, and if a site is tested at all it's tested in Chrome.

      • It often doesn't matter if there are cookies. When you visit a site, often it will place a hold on whatever you're looking for, so that if you choose to buy then it will be able to sell it to you at that price. Airlines will adjust their price based on the popularity of the flights, so if there are a load of holds placed on a particular flight, then it will be very expensive. There used to be a nice attack that would work to get cheap flights, where you'd go to a dozen or so different travel agents' site
      • I've noticed (at least with United), once you find a flight there is about 15 mins to buy before the price jumps. You have to wait a couple hours for it to go back down.

        Personally, I've never had any luck with these margin sites. I usually use Kayak which links directly to the airline.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is why I bought an RV. The hotel industry is just full of scumbags. From hotels that don't give a shit about bedbugs (or just don't put in the money to have their rooms checked on a regular basis, or worse, think they don't exist) to hotels that think because the customer paid less they deserve a shit room, and then hotels that regularly walk customers, and bullshit resort fees to pay for non-optional things that were advertised in the pamphlet (without the resort fees... which are only mentioned on

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tehcyder ( 746570 )
        The flaw in your solution is that you have to drive around in an RV and look like a twat.
        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          I would not give a fuck about looking like a twat.
          I do care however of the price of driving around, flying to someplace else and renting a room is so much cheaper.
        • That's not a bug, it is a feature. It helps the idiots to know I'm not interesting enough to be worth pestering.

          When I rent a yurt in the State Park, which is just like an RV parking spot but with a canvas house, the GPS takes me from home all the way to the park, including useful lane change warnings, tells me which turns to take inside the park, and guides me right to the correct spot. And if I didn't have that, they gave me a map when I checked in.

          And at night, it is way quieter than a hotel room, becaus

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        This is why I bought an RV. The hotel industry is just full of scumbags ...

        All evil comes to the customer who books travel through third-party sites. Protip: there is not really any such thing as an online travel agent.

        If your trip is too complicated to book directly through airline and hotel sites, go a real travel agent who has an office in your town.

    • same thing on hotel sites. was in atlantic city last year and all the rooms are divided up between different sections of the hotel and you pay more for oceanview. and that's just a peek at the ocean. once you book they pester you with upgrades for a better view of the ocean

      • What I meant to convey, which I did poorly, is that inside of those different room classes (ocean view, parking lot view, etc), the worst rooms are the ones that end up discounted on the travel sites. So you may have ocean view rooms that all go for $200/night and parking lot views that go for $100. The $125 ocean view room on Travago will be the crappiest one inside of its room class.

        • when priceline first started i read about the business model and they said it was based on yield management and getting rid of inventory that would have been lost in the end

          lately with everything in travel being all about price it seems all these sites do nothing more than allow everyone to price their stuff and get rid of the annoying customers who try to sneak in upgrades or complain about their room

    • On the flip side of this is the fact that many hotels don't expect anyone to pay full price. They'll give discounts to events, people in their loyalty program, and so on. They think the sticker price is for suckers and anyone silly enough to turn up and want a room at that price should expect to be fleeced.
      • 15 years ago people would complain about facing the dump or the noisy AC and it was a game of musical rooms moving people around until someone took the room

        now they just price those rooms for people who don't care about it and let the rest of us pay a small premium to be locked into a better room

        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          Who said they do not charge more expensive prices for shitty rooms for you to book them?
      • Absolutely. The "rack rate" on the back of the door, in US hotels, just represents the highest room rate the hotel can ever legally charge. So, of course, the hotel keeps that at an absurdly high price. You should always expect huge discounts off of that, it's not really even usable for any sort of price comparison. The rate might hit that on one or two days a year, such as new years at certain hotels.

      • Well, depends. In many hotels I have found the 50% off discounted web-prices matches that of the stock price of the day.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The hotel website often offers the same prices as Priceline, Expedia etc, but not always. When you walk into a hotel off the street you are paying "rack rate", which produces the maximum possible profit for the hotel.

      You can actually get your laptop out and book the room from Priceline in front of the receptionist - hey presto, your room price just halved. I have done this myself several times. And no, this won't be some inferior room, simply one of the rooms from the normal stock.

      Don't believe everything y

      • I see why you can't believe what you read on the internet, it's because you can't read. I never said to compare rates _at the hotel desk_. You also don't seem to understand that, inside of a single class of room in the hotel's stock, that the rooms vary in quality. If a $600 rack rate room that normally sells for $200 discounted is made available to you for $150, I promise you that when you check in you will get a crappier room than the guy that paid $175 for a room in the same room class.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I used hoteltonight.com when I was last in San Francisco. Found a cheap room at a good hotel. Went to the front desk and asked them to match the price. They checked and said they couldn't match it so go ahead and book it on hoteltonight. The room was a good room, no problems. The hotel wasn't very full.
        I found it odd that they wouldn't match the price since they have to pay a commission to the web site. I've used this tactic at other hotels and they usually try to match the price.

    • Oh yes! My hotel used to price all rooms the same by the number of beds, and the worst rooms (on the wings not facing the river or the few odd rooms that don't have balconies) were saved for last when we had to use them. Now, they are offered at a lower price, and are usually taken by people using third-party billing sites like Expedia who blindly click on the lowest price then become upset when they realize what they got, and we can't change the deal because they didn't pay us in the first place.

      The thing

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        We can't simply check repeat guests in from history—we (and they) have to enter their personal info from scratch every single time.

        What kind of "personal info" is that? I've never had to do anything but flash an ID and hand over a credit card to cover incidentals, except maybe if I'm traveling overseas and they need passport details.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Almost everyone these days asks for all the standard info, name, address, phone, email, and all that. The hotel premier card links a single 10-16 digit number to your record, so a single swipe and all that info is loaded, sometimes even to your CC# (stored securely, of course),so you don't need to show ID or a credit card, and you are checked in in under 30 seconds. Yeah, the "by the hour" hotels you stay at don't ask for or keep any info, but have you ever checked into a Marriott?
          • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

            But if I booked my travel with a site like Expedia (as per the topic), you already have all that information. No need to "enter it from scratch." It's always there on the computer when I show up at the front desk. A little hand-waving and they hand me my keys.

            Yeah, the "by the hour" hotels you stay at don't ask for or keep any info, but have you ever checked into a Marriott?

            I can't count how many hotels I've checked into using aggregate services like the ones described. Never once have I seen the poor, quivering guy at the front desk have to take down my personal details with a quill pen, and I've never had to fill them o

        • Address, license plate number, co-guests occasionally, and the rate they had in the past (which doesn't apply to third-parties, but makes it easier to set up our regular guests.) At least their phone number comes through from Expedia, though half the time there is a leading zero or one that has to be edited before our system recognizes it as a phone number. It doesn't sound like much, but it slows things down when people are lined up on a busy night. We normally get that info when they call us to make a res

          • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

            You know ... I suppose one thing from my POV is that I can't remember ever staying at a hotel where I liked the room so much that I consciously booked the same hotel again, next time I was in town. And if I do repeat stays (ugggh, Las Vegas) it's usually because I have to stay at that hotel for reasons of proximity, and being made to stay there doesn't make me feel like their "honored guest" or anything. I guess I've just never bought into that culture of "premium service" at hotels. To me, my room's mostly

            • Aye, mine is a 100+ room three-star (enclosed keyed entry to the building but no valet staff beyond one House Person), with a final price around $100-150 per night. We try to get their loyalty, but many people are passing through, often using those third-party services. Lately they seem to be only a few bucks below our normal rates until sales come up and I start seeing -$20 rooms in the "Restaurant Roof Vent View" rooms. :-

              The funny thing to me is the formal-ish atmosphere. I have a convenience store backg

    • for a pleasant hotel stay

      I don't stay in hotels. I sleep in hotels. I stay in a city. I would much rather pay rock bottom prices for a hotel and spend my money enjoying the place I'm exploring than wasting money on crap like an airconditioning.

      If the hotel has a bed it gets a tick. A toilet and shower is also required, but not necessarily in the same room.

    • Yes and no. Often times, the "low price" room from an aggregator is in a higher quality hotel than you would otherwise visit. For example, a $100 room might be the regular rate at a two-star hotel, or the super-bargain mystery rate at a four-star hotel. Even if the four-star hotel sticks me in their worst room, it will probably be a better experience than the best room at the two-star. Whether things are slow or not can also be a big determining factor. If you are traveling off-peak, they won't necessarily
  • by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:31AM (#54164369)
    I've found the best overall savings are if you stay loyal to your preferred airline or hotel chain. Get on their rewards card or miles / points system, and book directly through them. You get the best deals, and a lot more support if anything goes wrong with your reservation. Try getting help from an airline or hotel company if you book through a third party...
    • by reanjr ( 588767 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:44AM (#54164447) Homepage

      Quickest way to kill my loyalty is treating loyalty like a currency. I pay you for good service everytime. Not just for the times I present a magic "gimme decent service" card.

      • Quickest way to kill my loyalty is treating loyalty like a currency. I pay you for good service everytime. Not just for the times I present a magic "gimme decent service" card.

        I've never had a problem with poor service when I use travel websites but the GP is correct. You generally will get free upgrades, have priority baggage handling for airlines, and other perks that make your service amazing. Not everyone can get their bags first.

      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        The best overall savings is finding a way to get corporate rating. When I was an expat, my father had connections in my home country where he would get me a room in a 4 start hotel for half price or less when I was in holidays out of our home town.
      • Loyalty IS a currency. You're paying for the same service at the same rate. Loyalty is something extra. You don't get good service with a loyalty card, you get extras.

        If you're expecting shit for free then you're being unreasonable. If you're expecting benefits for being a loyal customer, then that's something quite different.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Quickest way to kill my loyalty is treating loyalty like a currency. I pay you for good service everytime. Not just for the times I present a magic "gimme decent service" card.

        And any loyalty programme worth joining does exactly the opposite to that. The only major loyalty programme I'm a part of is Singapore Airlines Krisflyer programme. Now to get points on Krisflyer, you pretty much have to fly regularly on Singapore Airlines. Especially if you want actual status (that gives you access to lounges on an economy ticket). Singapore Airlines provides good service, even if you're not a Krisflyer member.

        The problem that people have is that they like to play the service providers

    • I just went through booking a flight last week. I used Expedia and Kayak to look around. One of them found a much better deal (called a hacker fare) where you are essentially buying two one-way tickets on different airlines. It was $100 cheaper than anything else, which was $400+. Then I did a search for reviews, and everything said to stay away. The "price guarantee" is true, but if there are schedule changes - and you can be assured there will be - then you have to pay a change fee, or some other ty

      • by Anonymous Coward

        One of them found a much better deal (called a hacker fare) where you are essentially buying two one-way tickets on different airlines.

        Ended up doing something similar last year, but booking flights seperately through CheapoAir and WestJet. When one flight changed, we had to [shudder] SPEND THE NIGHT IN TORONTO.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          I booked a multi-continent flight. The rules on flights don't allow for a layover over a certain length. But, getting a layover of 16 hours, I saved almost 50%. I bought a round trip from A to B, and a round trip from B to C for almost half the cost of a trip from A to C, and A to C had at least 4 stops and at least 3 plane changes. A to B and B to C had a single stop with a single plane change.

          50% the cost, 50% of the time in the air, and a lower total travel time. Always check all the possibilities.
    • by Snocone ( 158524 )

      In general you are correct, but if you use a nice OTA they'll eat it. Case in point: Tried to take a Cambodia Air flight + hotel package I'd booked through Expedia, and when the plane broke they ... did not move expeditiously to arrange a replacement. So I took the next flight out on my own dime. Complained about that to the airline they said nope booking V class no refunds no credit doesn't matter the plane never took off. Kinda miffed. Whined to Expedia.co.th and they were like OH WHY YES FULL FLIGHT REFU

  • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:33AM (#54164375)

    try booking a kid friendly cruise a year out during a school break, the prices are sky high because everyone is using big data and whatever to know when and where people are traveling. it's been this way for decades. In the 90's airline tickets to Italy would magically drop by 50% in October.

    After priceline came out almost 20 years ago people learned to make money off the cheapskates. They will advertise cheap hotel rooms but those have the worst views of the garbage dump.

    my inlaws thought they got a deal on a cruise one time and told me to go to some russian travel agent to book a room and take the kids. turned out it was a school week right before the Easter break

    try getting a discount at Disney in July or August

    Easy to get a cheap room in Vegas as long as you're there on Wednesday. Actually it's the best day since the place isn't packed full

    same with cheap airline tickets and any other vacation. go outside the peak season. my wife and I had a good deal in Negril on our honeymoon cause we went in October. Downside is some things were closed and some tours not running cause of the lack of people

    • by tsqr ( 808554 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:42AM (#54164433)

      They will advertise cheap hotel rooms but those have the worst views of the garbage dump.

      That's a pisser. I'd rather pay a little more and get the best view of the garbage dump.

    • They will advertise cheap hotel rooms but those have the worst views of the garbage dump.

      Even in a budget room I'd expect a good view of the garbage dump.

    • They will advertise cheap hotel rooms but those have the worst views of the garbage dump.

      Most of the time, I don't care. Whether I'm on holiday or on business, if I'm spending a lot of time in my hotel room then I'm doing something wrong. Give me a comfortable bed, a clean and quiet room, and I'm happy. One hotel I stayed in gave you a $5 drink token for their bar for every day that you didn't use the housekeeping service: great, because I don't make the room messy enough to want someone to tidy it in a week-long stay and I don't want someone moving things in the room.

      • They will advertise cheap hotel rooms but those have the worst views of the garbage dump.

        Most of the time, I don't care. Whether I'm on holiday or on business, if I'm spending a lot of time in my hotel room then I'm doing something wrong. Give me a comfortable bed, a clean and quiet room, and I'm happy. One hotel I stayed in gave you a $5 drink token for their bar for every day that you didn't use the housekeeping service: great, because I don't make the room messy enough to want someone to tidy it in a week-long stay and I don't want someone moving things in the room.

        There are rare cases where an amazing view is nice. For instance, I once had an amazing hotel in Paris with the best view of the Eiffel tower. Did I stay in the hotel to admire this view? No. But when I was tired from a long day and was relaxing before bed, it was nice to sit on the balcony for 30-60 minutes and enjoy the view. I certainly would not go out of my way for this view, but it made the trip extra memorable. For an unusually special occasion, I would be willing to go out of my way to have a n

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I work for a company that does price aggregation similar to the Priceline/Expedia/Travelocity model (those are all owned by the same parent company, btw - they're mostly just different user experiences from the same base data). I feel like there are two major problems with the "deal aggregator" business model.

      1) Once your aggregator gets big enough, the businesses listed on your site realize the value in gaming the default/common sort criteria so that they will show up closest to the top wherever possible.

  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:39AM (#54164415) Homepage Journal

    When I search at the metasearch travel sites, they show me round trip prices. Do people book flights without looking at the actual price? If it seems high, try searching for two one way trips, and compare. Is that rocket science? Can people actually compare two numbers and determine which one is higher? Or is that too much to ask these days?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gaxx ( 76064 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:06PM (#54164589)

      Yes - it does seem to be a rather simple formula....

      1. Check price direct from airline/rail company/hotel company
      2. Check price on travel meta-search
      3. Compare prices
      4. Check that there are no significant differences in what you are getting
      5. Pick lowest price.

      A little more effort than use meta-search of your choice an ask no questions but not massively. And the meta-search does basically what its name suggests - takes a little leg work out of search through multiple sites whist claiming a percentage for doing so. More often then not using one throws me a bit of a saving and sometimes I go direct anyway just so I get to use my favoured brand. It depends on the extent of the saving.

      To me it's not too far apart from checking Amazon's price before buying a book or DVD in a store. It gives me a bit of surety that I'm not paying over the odds for something. And If I am then I know I was almost prepared to pay over the odds so I probably _really_ want to buy the thing online :)

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Yes - it does seem to be a rather simple formula....

        1. Check price direct from airline/rail company/hotel company
        2. Check price on travel meta-search
        3. Compare prices
        4. Check that there are no significant differences in what you are getting
        5. Pick lowest price.

        6. Hotel allocates you the worst rooms.

        Basically because you're punishing the hotel by making them pay commission, the hotel is not going to do any favours for you. A lot of hotels will give you the same price if you contact them. In my experience, booking through Expedia/Pricelilne or their myriad of sub brands is rarely cheaper though.

        The thing is, it's nothing like buying a DVD from Amazon because that's the same product. You're not buying a product when you book a flight or accommodation, you're b

    • For international flights, it's often a lot cheaper to book the round trip together because the vast majority of the fare is often the taxes. If you book a round trip flight to the US that includes a Saturday night, then you pay a significantly smaller amount of tax than if you book flights that don't include staying for a Saturday night. This tax was set up to encourage people travelling on business to stay an extra night or two and spend money doing tourist things. If you book individual legs, then you
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        What "taxes" are charged differently based on your next hop? I've heard of price differences, and in Taiwan, a longer layover gets a kick-back to the airline (and they have free tours and such, paid by local businesses, for those on a layover). But an extra tax for not staying overnight? That sounds like an old wive's tale.
        • Try booking a flight to the US and with and without a Saturday night if you don't believe me. When you get to the price breakdown, the taxes will be a lot higher for one.
  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:42AM (#54164431)

    is still email.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:49AM (#54164481)

      is still email.

      Great Idea, I'll send an email to Florida for my next vacation

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        is still email.

        Great Idea, I'll send an email to Florida for my next vacation

        Be careful though, if you send it via AOL your email might not return until the following summer.

      • is still email.

        Great Idea, I'll send an email to Florida for my next vacation

        T is will reduce, but not eliminate, your chances of getting hit with fake rental car damage fees.

      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        "Crazy way to travel, spreading a man's molecules all over the universe!" - Dr McCoy

        • "Crazy way to travel, spreading a man's molecules all over the universe!" - Dr McCoy

          “I teleported home last night with Ron and Sid and Meg
          Ron stole Meggy's heart away and I got Sidney's leg.” - D Adams

      • That will save you the suffering of having to physically be in Florida. If you're going to visit a 3rd world country on your vacation, there are others that are cheaper, safer and have better food.
      • Great Idea, I'll send an email to Florida for my next vacation

        ...and you'll get a reply "Having a great time! Wish I was here!"

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedia,_Inc.

    Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, trivago, Venere.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway. This may explain why the prices are stagnant. Also, when they actually were cheaper it was before the big hotel chains/airlines had a decent web interface that was hooked up the reservation system. Now, its generally cheaper to go direct since there is no middleman.

    • I never check those kind of sites now to book an hotel, be it in NYC or elsewhere, I call the hotel to make a reservation, and if I check by after those "bargain travel sites", I realize they are all more expensive than what the hotel is offering!

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @12:38PM (#54164775) Journal
        The main use for them is an early filter. They'll give you a rough list of hotels in a particular area, sorted by price or rating. Then you can go and look at the hotels' own web sites.
      • if true you can usually get some lowest price warranty on the bargain web site

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          if true you can usually get some lowest price warranty on the bargain web site

          Most of the time for the hotel I'm looking at, the lowest price on the bargain site is the same as the price offered by the hotel chain to their loyalty club members. So there's really no reason to use the bargain sites except, as someone above said, as an initial filter to find one in the area that meets your budget.

          • Except that it's often easier to book through the bargain web site instead of registering to the loyalty club

      • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
        I realize this is just one anecdote, but I was traveling through Iowa City a couple weeks ago. I found the hotel I wanted, was about $90 all-in on Trivago. I called the hotel directly, they wanted $100 all-in. When I told her it was $10 cheaper online she said something to the effect of "well, that's the online price. If you want it for that price you have to book online". That didn't make any sense to me. Not only is the price $10 cheaper, they have to pay the middleman as well. I didn't want to try
        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          For hotels that has been my experience as well, I've never had a hotel price match the online rate, they'd rather give me a lower price AND pay the commission, than just give me the lower price.

          Airlines on the other hand, I've never managed to find a third party price lower than the price straight from the airline, so I've pretty much given up booking airfares through any third party site.

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            I've found that the prices are sometimes lower off the airline website, but the main value of off-site searches is to find the cheapest carrier for a route. Then use that info to book directly from the airline site.
            • by green1 ( 322787 )

              Where I live, it's easy, there are only 2 airlines, check both and you know you have the highest rate that the lack of competition will allow. (in reality they are always dollar for dollar identical on all routes anyway)

              Now if you're flying overseas, there's actual competition and it might be worth checking, but domestically, check one of the 2 airlines and you know the price.

              Our government keeps blocking any effort by other airlines to enter our market and provide competition.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The airline fare rules are published in a language of their own. They are semi-public, to the booking cartel at least, not proprietary per airline. There is only one company with software capable of searching these fare rules for itineraries: ITA software. An instance of it is available in raw form on https://matrix.itasoftware.com/ or in a dumbed-down form that's in practice more powerful because it's faster due to precalculation and has a fancy GWT UI on https://flights.google.com/. All of the other s

    • I usually check both Expeida type sites, and SouthWest... remembering that for just about any non-Southwest airline, I need to add $25 per checked bag each way to the price. Southwest is usually cheaper even before considering the checked baggage gouge from the other airlines.

      Modified by I refuse to fly American Airlines at any price... though they're usually more expensive anyway. (Long story involving AA not getting me to even one connecting flight, either way, not able to find baggage containing my CPA

  • I still use them, but then I go to the airline pages and check the prices there. Sometimes individual airlines have better options, more often not.

    Where I travel (EU), you can sometimes save money or get better times for round-trips by buying two one-way tickets. That used to be nearly impossible, so perhaps something has changed. I avoid "cheap" airlines because at least in Europe they are no longer really that cheap and the lousy service and delays are not worth it.

    • I avoid "cheap" airlines because at least in Europe they are no longer really that cheap and the lousy service and delays are not worth it.

      Same in the US. Once you pay the "Breath O^2" and "Carry on something larger than a gallon ziploc bag" fees you end up paying just about as much as a regular airline for a much poorer experience.

  • We used one of those sites once for a major, top end hotel in Chicago. It came with free valet of our vehicle, so we planned around having a free valet. They refused it to us when we got there. When we figured out what we were doing, we stood in line again and there was another person from three spots back with the same complaint.
  • Travelocity was acquired by Expedia years ago, so if you're shopping both thinking that you're comparison shopping, you're wasting time. Load them both in separate tabs and compare them side-by-side, you'll see it's the same site with slightly different branding (even the source code for the current Travelocity web site includes comments like "Expedia header here").
  • because they've gotten so huge they're buying up their competitors left and right, and we don't really do much anti-trust enforcement anymore.
  • Kids these days think just because they have access to the data, it makes them domain experts. Access to stock prices - instant stock broker. Access to booking sites - instant travel expert. The truth is, expertise still takes time to build up, and it will be another eon before AI can understand custom needs and wishes, rather than make clumsy Clippy suggestions.

    So, find a local, preferably independent, travel agent. Go there in person, sit down for a coffee. Then let a professional sort out all the hurdles

  • I go to the sites, Search for the best deal I can online - Grab a screenshot, call my travel agent and tell them what expedia is able to do and see if she can better that.

    It has the advantage of giving me the best price available plus the assurances of having a professional handle the transactions for me.
     

  • The original article confuses OTAs and Aggregators. Expedia and Travelocity are OTAs and have a login to Sabre and other systems as travel agencies. They can book and service your trip. They also use Sabre and others to do the search against the fares and schedules databases, as well as online connectivity to airlines for availability. Kayak, Skyscanner and others are aggregators.

    BTW - I led the algorithm design of Sabre's Linux-based search engine about 15 years ago - Travelocity, Expedia and others drove

  • Many have mentioned that these days it is better to book directly through the airline or hotel web site especially if you are a member of their loyalty or rewards programs.

    BUT! It seems that just when enough time has passed to allow you to accumulate sufficient points to spend on yourself, they either change or discontinue the program and render your points useless.

  • AltaVista succeeded and is profitable to this day. How is this not going to work??? /sarcasm

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"

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