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Old 04-05-2015, 10:52 PM   #1
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Online Travel Sites

Are online travel sites pretty much the same? Or do some really stand out vs others.

I'll be doing some booking soon (hotel, flight).

Usually, for hotels, if I get a general idea of what is out there, I go to hotels.com. For flights, I go to Orbitz.

But are there better places to go to score a better deal?
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Old 04-05-2015, 11:10 PM   #2
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I like checking Google Flights to determine which date(s) have the lowest airline prices. (There are a few airlines that are not included in the Google flight data. Southwest is one that springs to mind. If they might be a potential carrier, I'd suggest checking them independently and comparing with the others within Google Flights.)

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Old 04-05-2015, 11:23 PM   #3
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I've been traveling for business since the early 1980's, before the online revolution of travel sites. What I have found is that if you are not making a bid on a site like Priceline, then the online sites like Orbitz and others really don't do much for you in the way of savings.

Several experiences with hotel bookings I did, found that the online sites were charging higher prices than if you booked directly with the hotel (the hotel avoids the online fee). Also, once booked with an online service, many pull the funds immediately and if you cancel or make date adjustments, it may take a while to get your funds back.

Currently, I deal directly with the airlines, hotels and rental car agencies. Making travel changes appears to be easier that way.
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:25 AM   #4
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I've used Kayak.com to check pricing. Once I see a price I like, I go to the airline site to see if they can do better. Kayak redirects you to the site with the best price, many times it being the airline's site. For hotels I do the same, but end up making the reservation on the hotel's site. For car rentals, I use Costco.com and check the car rental site, even joining their program if it gets me a better rate. Most of the time, I end up going through Costco because the member discount is the cheapest option.


+1 on dealing directly because changes are easier on the airline/hotel/rental car sites.


Oh, and I'll check prices after I've bought the ticket or made the reservation. My main airline offers a price guarantee on the lowest cost flight. I've been able to get credit vouchers for the difference on several flights. I've also made multiple reservations on hotels and cars, making a new one when they advertise a lower price and cancelling the old one.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:12 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. Looks like there isn't a clear best site but some dancing around needed to get the very best deal. Mainly, to use a general site like hotels.com to get an idea, then go to the airlines or hotels directly.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:16 AM   #6
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I've used Kayak.com to check pricing. Once I see a price I like, I go to the airline site to see if they can do better. Kayak redirects you to the site with the best price, many times it being the airline's site. For hotels I do the same, but end up making the reservation on the hotel's site.
+1. This is the best method that i'm aware of.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Are online travel sites pretty much the same? Or do some really stand out vs others.

I'll be doing some booking soon (hotel, flight).

Usually, for hotels, if I get a general idea of what is out there, I go to hotels.com. For flights, I go to Orbitz.

But are there better places to go to score a better deal?
For flights, I start with goggle flights to find the best prices, then I go to the airline to book.

For hotels I use Tripadvisor to read all the reviews. Tripadvisor often shows availability and quotes prices from several sites. It's not complete - but gives a good idea and I always double check availability if a problem is shown. But I go directly to the hotel site to book the room.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:03 AM   #8
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Years ago I used to go through Expedia. Then I learned that seat assignment and changes were much easier if I booked directly with the airline.

On hotels, I almost always find a better deal directly with the hotel, or at least as good as advertised though the other sites. Another reason to book directly with the hotel is sometimes your reservation through a third party doesn't show up or has an error. You can get caught in finger pointing. It's best to leave out a middle man.

A couple of times I have booked through a site like Expedia at the last minute because they had availability while the hotel did not show any. That does work with certain chains.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:20 AM   #9
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I start with Orbitz, research through TripAdvisor if it's a hotel, and book directly with the hotel/airline if the deal is reasonable. Sometimes it's not. DH and I once saved $300 per person booking a flight to Scotland on Orbitz rather than Delta's site.


One thing you have to check carefully: many times the best rates are non-cancellable, payable immediately and don't carry loyalty points. The spread between non-cancellable and cancellable rates is widening; it was about $20/night last time I booked Des Moines, where our son and DIL live. I'm learning to live with it for one-night bookings.


A few times I've gotten a good deal through Verizon; I have cell phone service through them and they issue reward points- nothing I signed up for. Sometimes they have the best rate on hotels or car rentals. I'll definitely check Costco next time we go anywhere; we have a Costco membership.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:39 AM   #10
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I went through Costco last time for car rental. The price quoted seemed so good (compared to previous) that I didn't even compare.

With car rentals you can change at the last minute and prices vary a lot depending on the day of the week and how far out. So one can keep checking for a better deal and switch.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:43 AM   #11
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If you are using major hotel chain, many of them offer generous price matching options...Marriott for example will match the price and give you an additional 25% off the entire bill and will match for multiple nights on one booking.

This requires a little work, you check the rate at the corp site and then look at some of the booking sites to find a lower price. Go back to Marriot and book the hotel, making sure you are getting a refundable rate in case you want to back out. You then send Marriot a screen shot of the lower rate and they will adjust your reservation on their web site. It must be the same type room and terms, such as non-refundable/ refundable.
It does take a little work, but in theory you would be looking around for the cheapest room rate anyway. Some chains have a generous Senior/AA rate available only thru their website which often is a little cheaper then the regular on line booking sites.

I once saved 450 bucks on a 3 nite stay in NYC doing the price match. The rate was so low the clerk checking us in was actually Pi$$ed off.
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I went through Costco last time for car rental. The price quoted seemed so good (compared to previous) that I didn't even compare.

With car rentals you can change at the last minute and prices vary a lot depending on the day of the week and how far out. So one can keep checking for a better deal and switch.

+1 I use Costco.com for rental cars and recheck costco a few times before my trip. I have found the rates can go down sometimes so I just do another reservation for the lower rate then cancel my original reservation. I have yet to find a cheaper rate then Costco.


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Old 04-07-2015, 02:32 PM   #13
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been using Trivago for hotels/motels. seems to do the same multi-site search as Kayak w/o all those windows opening on your screen
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Old 04-07-2015, 02:42 PM   #14
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I check Kayak.com and Flights.google.com for airfares - they seem to occasionally pull different flight combinations.

I was pleasantly surprised when flights.google.com found a business class flight for not that much more than coach for my trip this summer. It is using 3 different airlines (American to Europe, with a Vueling leg in Europe, then USAIR return.) Yet it's ticketed through British Airways. Kayak did not pull the same combo. Even the BA customer service rep was surprised by a) the price, b) the combo of flights - but it was legit.

For cars - like the others I recheck prices frequently.

For hotels I tend to determine where I want to stay first using trip advisor, etc... then I use various engines, including the hotel website, to see who can get me the best rate. If I'm travelling with my kids I STRONGLY prefer to do apartment rentals and will use sites like VRBO.com, then check out the places on tripadvisor. (Apartments are often cheaper and you get a lot more space.)
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:43 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Thanks for the responses. Looks like there isn't a clear best site but some dancing around needed to get the very best deal. Mainly, to use a general site like hotels.com to get an idea, then go to the airlines or hotels directly.
Trip advisor polls hotels.com, booking.com, Expedia, Priceline and others when you give it your travel dates. So it's even easier to get an idea of availability and price.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:01 PM   #16
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try Google flights.

Pick a departing airport, the days you want to travel and click on the map. Then explore to find a place that you can afford to fly to.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:22 PM   #17
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I use Costco for car rentals at the airport, but have found much better deals by going off airport and just using available discount codes.

For example, in Portland, I've used Hertz with stacked discount codes from their website to book a car downtown and save about half. The car rental place is just off the light rail route, so it is no a big inconvenience and I return the car directly to the airport for little or no upcharge.
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:31 PM   #18
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A bunch of us used AirBnB last fall to find a place in Boston at a good price. I've not used it again yet but I've seen some interesting deals in NY City and Amsterdam. It might we worth checking it out for your destination.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:49 PM   #19
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I usually start research with Tripadvisor and pick hotels based on location and ratings. Sometimes book through Orbitz, sometimes through the hotel. We use Airbnb if we need a house. I book airfare directly through the airline- almost always Southwest, and book rental cars through the rental car company.


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Old 04-08-2015, 06:25 AM   #20
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We rarely, if ever, stay in hotels, (*per se), and use HouseTrip, Wimdu, and airbnb to find accommodation.

Flights...we cross check a variety of search engines: fareboom, Kayak, FlightNetwork, (etc), but since our Visa Travel Points card will give us additional points if we use Expedia, we will go through them if they can beat or match other sites.

(We also, primarily for Europe, check out individual airlines for competitive prices: Finnair, Icelandair, Aeroflot, AirTransat, etc.)

(*People who consistently use "Per se" generally irritate me, but in this instance it seemed apropos. )
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