A recent trend shows more and more Indians veering towards online travel booking instead of relying completely on travel agents. And why not? Online travel sites and portals offer more affordable prices – from finding cheapest flights and booking a hotel room to more economical and customised packages. When planning a new vacation it is always nice to find cheaper options and great deals. But the real question is how much are you compromising on quality?
Here are a few tips on online travel booking that’ll help you get the best out of your next vacation!
1. Always sort results by price
Reports show that Mac users tend to spend a bit extra than regular PC users. So when a Mac user lands on a travel booking site, chances are he/she will be looking at slightly higher prices than a PC user. Another thing to do is to clear your cache before you start booking, as returning clients are shown slightly higher prices than a first time visitor.
2. Travel auction sites
These auction sites can offer you amazing bargains on your flight tickets, cruises, hotel stays and resorts. You get to bid however much you feel your vacation should cost and not a rupee more. The savings usually average around 60%. All you need is some time and patience. These are definitely worth checking out if you have some time to plan ahead.
3. Last minute booking can save you money
Forget the old trick of buying flight tickets as early as possible to get the best deal. That worked in the 70s and 80s when the demand for flights was more and the competition was less. Today this trick doesn’t really hold true with so many different flights available at your service. If anything you might get a great deal at the last minute as the airlines try to fill up their seats.
4. Confirm your booking
Always, always confirm your booking directly with your hotel and flight. The software of your travel booking sites or third party softwares are not always reliable. You don’t want to be in the situation where you booked your reservations yet it didn’t get registered with your flight or hotel. So double check.
5. Fine Print matters
Usually being offered a package deal at a cheap rate might make you happy. But it is important to check the details in the fine print that would not be highlighted on your package itinerary. Like your flight might be the one with multiple layovers that nobody wants, or you might miss out on some must do experiences.
6. Online travel agents might be making a comeback
Now with so many options and choices available at our fingertips, many travellers prefer to plan their own travel. But a lot of time they might have saved on some cash or a lot of unnecessary agony had they booked through a travel agent. A travel agent usually has the contacts, resources and the experience to deal with various travel concerns and get you the best deals that you wouldn’t have found on your own (fees included). You might also enjoy certain experiential perks like a private tour or a cooking class on your vacation.
7. Build Loyalty points
This one is easy. Loyalty points get you better discounts, upgrades and other perks. Make sure you fill up on loyalty programs on every hotel you stay in. Do this especially if you are an avid traveller. You will get a lot of junk promotional offers, but once in a while you will get a gem that offers you say, 6000 loyalty points for a weekend stay. You can also work directly with your agent to rack up those points and earn priority rewards. Online booking at the most only gives you the minimum loyalty boosts.
8. Dig deeper
You might not see every worthwhile option online. This is especially true for listing lodgings, where you will find the grand chains and well known brands, but small comfy inns, or cozy homestay options are usually absent. So apart from relying on booking sites, do some researching of your own. Read blogs, magazines, specific sites, ask friends – well, you get the idea.
9. Make friends with fellow travellers
Another mistake travellers usually make is to ask the locals about hotel reviews and touristy experiences. As a local you might not be the best person to ask about the hotels or tourist spots in your city. A better source will be a tourist who has been there and seen it all. So make friends with your fellow travellers and get honest reviews. Now, when it comes to food and restaurants, talking to the locals would be a very good idea.
10. Independently owned hotels can offer better discounts
Usually major hotel chains balk at lowering the prices. Not that they don’t, but you might get a better discount at independently owned hotels.
So these were some of the tips I could think of. Hope these save you some grief when you are planning your next vacation. If you can think of some more useful tips, feel free to add them to this list. Also, check out these cool ixigo apps for android and iOS. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next post. Ciao!
By Debangana Sen