5 Reasons to Book Direct
Getting things directly from the source is making a big comeback. Local farmers markets allow you to get your produce straight from the farm to your table; websites like Etsy allow you to purchase hand-crafted items from the person making them; and Internet recommendations pair you with local tour guides who can provide personalized experiences in their hometowns.
In all of these instances, there is a certain benefit from procuring your items direct from the source. Making your travel plans is just the same: booking direct with the source has its benefits over using a middle man.
1. Specials & Perks
Airlines may run special packages on their website that are not available through a third-party site. Hilton Mom Mary S. pointed out a special on Air Tahiti Nui where kids only pay taxes and fees when booking with an adult fare. This special, which she had to call to reserve, saved her thousands of dollars but was only advertised on the airline’s website.
Airlines have several more options than an Online Travel Agency (OTA) when you book your flight direct on their website. You can pay for packages that include checked bags, priority boarding, or mileage accelerators. Want to extend your family vacation with a layover or stopover? These packages are often only available on the airline’s websites.
When it comes to hotels, all Hilton Honors members who book direct with Hilton via the website, Hilton Honors app or by phone (1-800-HILTONS) receive an exclusive member rate that can’t be found anywhere else, as well as benefits such as free Wi-Fi, Hilton Honors Points and digital check-in with room selection (more details on this below).
Having free Wi-Fi in our hotel room is perfect for our family since I enjoy telling our vacation story on social media as it happens but don’t like to pay the extra cash for Wi-Fi. Now, when we’re enjoying some down time, my husband and I can post updates on Facebook and Twitter or even check work e-mail. On second thought, don’t check email; your boss doesn’t have to know you had free Wi-Fi.
Have you read online reviews that tell you the best rooms are on the top floor of your resort? Or that the rooms on the east side are quietest? Hilton Honors members can check-in online or via the Hilton Honors app and select their own rooms at all U.S. hotels in the Hilton Portfolio right now and at Hilton hotels around the world by the end of 2016. This was great in Jamaica when I knew I wanted to be on the outside of the resort nearest the Kids Club and water park — the amenities we would be using most.
2. Cancellation Policies
A change in flight schedule or travel plans may require you to modify an airline reservation. If you’ve booked with an OTA, the airline will tell you to contact the agent for any issues. The OTA will then have to contact the airline on your behalf and get back with you. You are now subject not only to the airlines policies but the OTA’s terms and conditions as well. You can see how this can get complicated quickly and take extra effort and time to make even a simple change. Plus, it may end up costing more if the OTA charges cancellation fees above what the airline already collects.
When you book a hotel room directly with Hilton, you can choose a rate plan with a flexible cancellation policy. Trust me, cancelling a vacation is a bummer; the last thing you need are cancellation policies that leave you paying for the room you’re not using.
3. Make It Personal
An OTA will reserve a flight for you, but you will most likely end up going to the airline’s website to make sure your frequent flyer number was included, to make seat selections, or to check for schedule changes or gate assignments. It’s simpler to head to the airline website first rather than double-checking again and again that the data was sent correctly and all your preferences have been noted.
Additionally, if you need help celebrating a special occasion or just want some snacks in the room when you arrive, it’s easy to communicate a special request to the hotel. If you’ve made your reservation directly with Hilton, you can request anything from a bottle of sparkling wine for your room to extra pillows when you check in online. Booking through a third party site likely won’t get those special notes transferred through to the hotel.
4. Best Rates, Guaranteed
The primary reason to check an OTA is to comparison shop. If you do find a lower airfare on a third-party website, some airlines have low price guarantees. For example, if you find a published airfare at least $5 cheaper on an American Airlines flight on the same day you book on their website, they will refund the difference in and give you a $50 credit on your next flight.
You may think you’re going to find a better price going through a major online site on your hotel room, too. But, as I mentioned earlier, Hilton Honors members receive an exclusive member rate that can’t be found anywhere else as long as you book directly through Hilton.
5. Loyalty Has Its Privileges
When you book direct with Hilton and include your Hilton Honors number in the reservation, you will earn Hilton Honors Points to redeem for future stays and to help you achieve elite status. When you book through another online booking agency, you will not earn these points and stay credits.
Because room rewards begin at just 5,000 points, it’s very possible to earn a free night — or more — from just one family vacation. And, with as little as four stays or 10 nights, you will start earning points bonuses and other rewards with more elite status. Tip: Check for Hilton Honors promotions before you leave to maximize your point earnings!
I’ve been booking direct with airlines and hotels for years — even well before I became a Hilton Mom — because of all of the real, tangible benefits. Whether it’s your fresh vegetables or next family vacation, dealing directly with the provider is the way to go!
You may also enjoy:
- 8 Secrets to Upgrade Your Hotel Experience
- 3 Must-Have Apps for Road Trips with Kids
- Maximize Your Business Travel with Hilton Honors
- Best Ways to Earn and Redeem Hilton Honors Points
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.