Travel News

Hotels Compete with Online Booking Sites for Your Business

Hotel chains have been losing customers to online travel booking sites like Expedia and Now they’re fighting to win back your business.

How did it get to this point? After the recession in 2008, booking sites helped hotels fill rooms that were otherwise not being booked. Before they knew it, online travel agencies were selling a great deal of hotel inventory. With markups and commissions, between 15 and 20 percent of a given hotel’s revenue was going to those online booking sites.

As a result, Hilton began a campaign called “Stop Clicking Around,” intended to bring bookings back to its website. Hilton claimed that if you booked through its site, you would get a better hotel rate, free WiFi, digital check in, and points for its rewards program. In the first year, almost nine million new members joined the Hilton Honors program, and the app was downloaded every eight seconds.

In 2015, the U.S. hotel industry supported 7.8 million jobs and earned a total revenue of $227.2 billion. Online hotel bookings made up 13 to 15 percent of all reservations, which added up to $22.8 billion in sales.

Of those, Expedia has about 73 percent of all online bookings. Expedia’s umbrella now includes Travelocity, Trivago, and Orbitz. Which online booking site comes in second? It’s Priceline.

So, what does all of this mean for you? When booking a hotel room, do your research. Check out the online travel agencies, look at the hotel’s website, and then pick up the phone. Call the hotel directly and ask them about the additional fees and amenities that matter to you. Ask if you can get free WiFi, if they can waive the resort fee, if kids can stay or eat free, and ask about free parking. Last but not least, ask about the hotel’s cancellation policy.

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By Peter Greenberg for