One of the biggest decisions when I travel is whether to book my accommodation online before I get to my destination or to go directly there and find it, in order to get the best accommodation at the best prices and value for my money. There is nothing more frustrating to find out that another hotel guest staying in the exact same room type as you is paying less because they booked online before they arrived or they got a cheaper ‘walk in’ rate.
I have been travelling regularly now for over 15 years and I still don’t have a preference as both options have there own advantages. So I have compiled a list of what I have discovered are the benefits of both to help you make your own decision and find out what works best for you.
- Price of all accommodations in one place – In other words you can see the prices of all the different hotels and in all the locations at your destination from the comfort of one location thus saving time and energy on walking around asking each individual place which gives you more time to enjoy your holiday.
- Use Online booking websites to get a better rate – By using online booking websites such as Booking.com you will find that they can provide you with a better rate than directly with the hotels.
- Preview the accommodation – You have the advantage of reading reviews of the accommodation from previous travellers from websites such as Tripadvisor which will help you considerably in addressing any questions or concerns you may have about the accommodation so that there are very few surprises of what you will expect.
- Can use third party websites – Using third party websites such as skyscanner and Tripadvisor to search for a particular hotel and room type can show you which online booking website offers you the best rate as sometimes there can be a big difference between the websites.
- Pay up front – By booking online you have the option of paying up front for your accommodation which means that you do not have to worry about budgeting for hotels on your holiday which is a substantial amount to consider.
- Peace of mind – There is nothing worse than travelling than having to worry about where to stay. I am sure you want to enjoy as much time as possible sightseeing, doing activities, shopping or laying on the beach.
- Guaranteed accommodation – One of the worst scenarios that can happen while travelling is that you get to your destination only to find out there everywhere is fully booked. This can happen and has happened to me in the past when I arrived in a small city in Thailand only to find out everything had been booked as it was a local holiday which I wasn’t aware of.
- Special requirements – If you have any special requirement which are important to you such as a smoking room or bed type then you can request it without having to worry about if you can find that particular request and most likely it will be more difficult to accommodate by just turning up to a hotel.
Booking at Destination
- Better ‘ Walk in’ Rate – Now this can go both ways, but in my own personal experience of travelling I have found that more often than not you can get a better rate if you walk in on the same day to book a room. Hotels are always keen to fill their rooms and more willing to give a better price than online if they have the room available.
- You can negotiate a better price – One thing that you cannot do online is discuss what price you would like to pay for the room, the price is always fixed. However, if you are there in person you find that you can always negotiate a price which is lower than the advertised price. I find that this works particularly better if you arrive in the evening.
- See exactly what you pay for – Now I am sure we’ve had the experience of booking somewhere and it’s ended up being nothing like what was described or shown on the website. I know I have many times and it’s too late to get a refund or you have to pay a fee if you change your mind once you’ve checked into the hotel.
- Stay in the location you prefer – Many times I have booked a hotel online in a location which I thought I would enjoy being in only to find out it is far from all the tourists locations or in a location which is not to my liking. At your destination you can walk around to an area you prefer and choose a hotel located there and you will be much more happier than staying further away which can sometimes ruin your stay.
- Join fellow travellers – Depending on what kind of person you are and for what reasons you are travelling you have the advantage of being able to stay in the same places with other travellers you may have forged some kind of relationship. I have made many more friends from my travels by choosing to stay in the same hotel or guest house and developing relationships rather than parting ways as we are staying in completely different areas at our destinations because it was already booked.
These are the advantages of both options that I have encountered in my years of travelling and of course others will have different benefits. You can even combine the two such as finding the hotel of where you want to stay and go there directly and book, this way you benefit from finding exactly what you want having the option of checking if the place is exactly how you expected it to be, and asking for a walk in rate rather than the rate online, and if the rate is better online you can always book it from your smartphone in the hotel lobby.