Loyalty Is Not a One-Way Street.
As a consumer, getting the best deal—or at least a good deal—when traveling is becoming a constant struggle. The other side has the advantage and, what’s more, they keep changing the rules.
I belong to the Hilton Honors program. I joined almost impulsively because NARP had held its Spring meeting in a Hilton hotel for two or three years in a row. As they say, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
But I have also found the on-line travel agencies very helpful. Specifically, I’ve used booking.com to research and book a number of hotels on recent trips. It has an excellent easy-to-use web site and their reviews are from people who have made their reservations through booking.com and have actually stayed at the properties they’re reviewing.
Obviously, the hotels would rather you book directly with them because they have to pay commissions to sites like booking.com. And so hotels have now begun offering both incentives and disincentives designed to get potential guests to book direct using the hotel’s web site.
On my recent trip, I stayed at Hilton hotels in Windsor, Connecticut; at two different Hiltons in Chicago, (going and coming back); and at one in Oakland. In each case, I could have reserved the rooms using the hotel’s web site, but I made all four reservations through booking.com.
Bottom line: I spent almost a thousand bucks at Hilton hotels … and was penalized for it. Because I went through booking.com, I got no Hilton Honors points from any of those hotels. And, if I had booked direct, the internet connections would have been free at the Windsor and Chicago properties. But because I made my reservation using booking.com, those hotels charged me $12.95 a night for wi-fi.
I do understand the rationale, but I’m still put out at Hilton. After all, the whole point to their loyalty program is to get me to stay at their hotels. I did my part: I made a conscious decision to book four of their hotels for a total of five nights. And all I got for my loyalty was $39 in extra charges for the wi-fi. And no points.
I nearly always use Booking.com and seem to get good prices becasue they tell me I am a Genius :-) I always go for Free Wifi in my choices. The only time I have stayed in a Hilton was in Billings and Salt Lake City when my coach tour booked me there. I stayed an extra night in Salt Lake City but moved to a more affordable hotel. It was nice but way out of my price range.
I usually check the hotel’s web site to compare prices. There are times when Booking.com has better prices from a few hotels, but most of the time, the prices are the same. I find myself using Booking.com because I’m familiar with the web site and I trust their reviews more than other sites. But I’ll go direct if it means I’ll get my loyalty points plus free Wi-Fi. Why can’t these things be simple?? (Grumble, grumble)
Often, I look on booking.com or similar to find vacancies, but book with the hotel directly, stating the price I was offered on booking.com. Only when booking online with the hotel is too much of a hastle, or when they don’t want to give the price stated on booking.com, or when they ask, I book via booking.com and the like. Sometimes, I stand in the lobby of a hotel with my smartphone set to book via booking.com, but ask if they prefer I book directly with them. Only once, they refused to give me the same price or lower as on booking.com (30 euro more!), so I booked immediately with booking, but mostly, they accepted the same price or even less… I rarely sleep in chain hotels.
Do you still get free Wi-fi? My gripe is you don’t get loyalty points and the free internet connection if you go through a site like booking.com.
I select hotels that offer wi-fi, if I have the choice. So yes, I might miss some hotels that would offer wi-fi if I booked with them, and not with booking.com, but that’s their fault.
I might be tempted to ask to speak to Paris about any Hilton issues and see what could be negotiated.
Charles! I’m shocked!!