December 05, 2017

Hotels offer perks if you book direct. But should you?


Skip your travel agent and those comparison booking sites. That's what more hotels want you to do, and they're pulling out all the stops to persuade you to do it.

Travelers like Tom Harriman want to know. He recently found a hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., that offered to waive its mandatory $25-a-night resort fee and upgrade his room -- if he would book direct instead of through an online travel agency.

Weighing the value of a travel agent -- and especially an online travel agency -- against the benefits of a direct booking may make the choice look like a no-brainer. But there are risks and some long-term effects you should consider before bidding your agent adieu.

"We’ve certainly seen a trend of hotels increasingly using perks, guarantees, and advertising to encourage more direct booking and wrestle business back from the online travel agencies," says Daniel Guttentag, the director of the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston. The reason is simple. Direct bookings allow a hotel to keep more money because it doesn't have to pay commissions to an agent.

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