What is the Advantage of Booking a Hotel Directly vs Through an OTA?

Today I read an interesting article in Travel and Leisure magazine about the advantages of using a travel consultant vs. online booking, and I couldn’t help but relate it to my own experience of owning/operating a bed and breakfast inn. 

It’s true that the proliferation of the Internet and rise of online booking intermediaries have made it easier to compare prices, see guest photos and book a room on the fly. When booking a room at one of the chain properties, this may be the best way to go, because pretty much all the rooms are the same regardless of whether you’re in Boston or Bangkok. However when you’re  
looking for a bed and breakfast inn – an experience, not just a bed – it’s better to book directly, and here are the reasons why:


Broader Choice of Rooms

All hotels pay a substantial commission to the booking intermediaries. Consequently, smaller hotels, such as bed and breakfasts, may not put their premium rooms on the block for sale, particularly during high or holiday seasons. By booking through the property’s own web site or reserving on the phone, you will get your choice of available rooms.

Ability to Change a Reservation Easily

It’s easy to sort out a reservation change with the property owner with one phone call. Changing a reservation made through an online travel agency may require several phone calls before you get a live person, and even then it can be a difficult process requiring communication with the innkeeper through a “middleman”.

Unpublished Deals

It’s a fallacy that you will get the lowest rate by booking online. To preserve “rate integrity”, the rates are the same on all channels. Bed and breakfasts frequently have discounted deals, such as a military discount, last-minute booking discount or a “stay six nights and get the seventh night free” discount. However, these are only applicable to direct bookings. 

Better Customer Service

Innkeepers have a vested interest in keeping their guests happy.  We will spend as much time on the phone with you as necessary to ensure all your questions are answered thoroughly. Want the room with the best view? We’ll spend the time describing it so you can make an informed choice. Never been to the area before? We’ll be able to recommend the best restaurants, shopping and sightseeing attractions. There won’t be any unpleasant surprises when you arrive.

Complimentary Perks

Everyone likes to be unexpectedly delighted. Perks such as a free upgrade to a more luxurious class of room or a complimentary bottle of champagne, are sometimes available, but only on non-commissioned bookings.

In summary – the Internet has definitely transformed the way we live, but sometimes it’s better to do business the old-fashioned way.

Ros Bruno
The Whistling Swan Inn
110 Main St.
Stanhope, NJ 07874
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7 thoughts on “What is the Advantage of Booking a Hotel Directly vs Through an OTA?

  1. One of the things that I really liked was how you said that by booking personally with a hotel, I will be able to choose which room I want to be placed in. That’s good because my parents apparently want a room that has a good view of a body water like a lake or the sea. I’m not sure if I can make that kind of request, but perhaps, booking personally will give me a higher chance than having someone do it for me. Thanks. I’ll talk to my parent about this because we’re planning to take a week-long vacation next spring.

  2. Thank you for your recent comment. Most innkeepers do not put all their rooms for sale on an OTA. The inn web site will provide an accurate and transparent availability calendar.

  3. I really liked what you said about how bed and breakfasts frequently having discounted deals that are only applicable to direct bookings. My friend and I are going on a short vacation and want to stay in a bed and breakfast, but we don’t have too much money. Thank you for the information about checking to make the direct booking on their websites instead of going through other booking sites.

  4. My brother and sister-in-law would like to go on a weekend retreat and are looking into deals for a bed and breakfast. Your information that it would be better for them to look at deals from a bed and breakfast’s website or reserving over the phone because they will likely not place their premium rooms on a middleman’s site is really helpful. I will definitely pass this advice along to my siblings so they can make an informed decision on where to book.

    • Hello Sarah,

      Thank you for your insightful comments about this post. It is always better to speak to a live person, particularly if you have any specific needs or requirements. I frequently offer upgrades and other perks, when available, to guests who have booked a reservation with me directly.

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