Researching and Booking Hotels Online
When planning a holiday, it's always difficult to know where to stay: how do you pick a hotel you've never experienced in an area of a city you might never have visited before? Staying in the right place is a key part of your trip; having comfortable surroundings and being in the right location is crucial for both the holidaymaker and the business traveler.
There are so many sites that offer online travel advice, its hard to know where to start! But next time you're searching for a hotel to stay in, be sure to check out the following:
Wikitravel is a great starting point for any traveler. The site provides information from a traveler's perspective and offers useful advice in relation to where to eat and what to do in any given area. Larger cities are split into smaller districts, and on choosing which district you want to stay in, you are offered hotel options to suit your style and budget.
Expedia has a directory of over 80,000 places to stay world-wide and can help you narrow down your search and find the right accommodation. It's worth remembering that a hotel on price alone is never a great idea. Hotels that are further away from attractions and amenities are usually the cheapest, but as location is a very important factor of any holiday it might be worth paying a little more to be located centrally. The handy map feature on expedia allows you to see exactly where the available rooms are located, letting you weigh up price against location.
Venere lets you filter your search results down to help pinpoint the perfect hotel for you. The filters include budget, type of accommodation and star rating, although generally photos give a better indicator of just how good a hotel is. When looking at photos of rooms, it's worth cross checking these with recent reviews of the hotel, just to ensure that the photos are not only recent, but also a genuine representation of the room you will receive upon your arrival.
One of the best places to find customer reviews online is TripAdvisor, which has over 75 million reviews, tips and opinions from every type of traveler from around the world. TripAdvisor gives travelers the opportunity to rate hotels, share photos and videos and connect socially with other travelers.
Booking.com is the leading online travel agent and contributions over 30 million unique visitors each month. Offering over 253,441 hotels in 178 countries, the site aims to help travelers discover the best places to stay. Targeted at business and leisure travelers alike, the site scores hotels based on user reviews, which are broken down into categories such as comfort, location, value for money etc .. Hotels can also be filtered by the type of person who left the review – such as families with young children, solo travelers or large groups.
When it comes to booking your chosen hotel, you might think that online travel agents offer the best deals, but this is not necessarily the case. Booking direct with a hotel presents many advantages:
– You may be able to find exclusive promotions which are not offered on travel agent sites
– Some hotels offer frequent guest points and frequent flyers miles
– Hotels provide guest recognition, meaning the hotel will already know your preferences and dislikes if you've stayed there before
– Having a direct point of contact at a hotel makes it easier to amend or cancel bookings
– Booking verification is instant as there's no third party to confuse matters.
So next time you're looking for a hotel, be it for business or pleasure, remember that while online travel agents and travel review sites can act as a valuable source of information, more often than not you're better off booking via the hotel directly.