Best Way to Book Hotel Rooms.

I’ve posted about this incident before, but it bears repeating. It started with an overnight trip to Honolulu I made a few months back.

I had booked a room on line using what I thought was the hotel’s web page. The rate quoted for the one night, including tax, was $231.17 and that was the exact amount I charged to my credit card when I checked out the next morning.

Two days later I looked at my credit card account on line and discovered I had been charged $446.08 for the hotel room in Honolulu.

I immediately contacted the credit card company and was assured that the overcharge would be reversed. Then I called the hotel in Honolulu and spoke to their accounting department. Their records showed I had indeed been billed the correct $231.17, but that I had originally booked the room through RESERVATONS.COM, an on-line travel agency website. 

Then I heard the woman on the other end of the line say, “Oh, this is strange.”  Apparently, the payment received by the hotel—for the cost of the room less commission— had come from a wholesale travel company in Singapore!

One of our close friends is the general manager of a beachfront hotel here on Maui and I related the incident to him over lunch one day.

“You are always better off booking directly with the hotel, either by phone or by using the hotel’s web site,” he said. “When you come to us like that, we don’t have to pay a commission to an on-line travel agency, so we try to give you a little extra: maybe one of our rooms that’s just been renovated . . . or a room on an upper floor with an ocean view . . . or a room that’s closer to the elevators.”

I later went back to the website I had used to book the room in Honolulu. What I had thought to be the hotel’s website was, in fact, RESERVATONS.COM. But the web page I had used certainly looked likeit was the actual hotel web page.

So how can you tell you’re dealing with the hotel’s website and not one of the huge on-line travel agencies?

Look for the hotel’s main phone number—not the reservations line, but the one that’s the main phone number for the hotel itself. If the area code doesn’t match the hotel’s physical location, you’re not on the hotel’s official web page!

My advice: Use one of the on-line travel agencies (expedia-dot-com or hotels-dot- com) for research to help you decide which hotel you want. Then book direct.