We’re trained to believe hotel best rate guarantees – that you really do get the best deals on a hotel’s website. That’s mostly true for US hotels compared to the major online travel agencies, but those guarantees are riddled with holes and are only for like-to-like offerings… they don’t match many kinds of bundled offerings or deals that require memberships.
When we step beyond booking direct, we might think about the standard Virtuoso, American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, Visa Signature Hotels or World MasterCard offerings — things like an upgrade if available, late checkout, perhaps breakfast and a food and beverage credit.
Hotels that do participate with these higher-end booking channels will often provide a similar price, just with those amenities thrown on top.
What we can miss is that – especially for the real luxury segment – there are deals being cut all over the place and you’re rarely doing the best booking directly through a hotel’s public channels.
I was really reminded of this reading Wendy Perrin on how to get the best deal at TripAdvisor’s best hotel in the world.
TripAdvisor named Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives as best resort. And she gives a pricing example — where booking through an expert she checked with who has a direct relationship with the property:
- Saved 38% on the room
- Threw in breakfast and dinner every day on top
- Included speedboat transfers for no extra charge
- Added a room upgrade if available
- Plus a $100 dining credit, free spa treatment, and early check-in/late check-out
(Disclosure: I’ve spoken on a panel hosted by Conde’ Nast Traveler alongside the specialist Wendy consulted.)
With many luxury properties, booking direct frequently isn’t the best idea. There are online things you can check where you often get throw-ins like upgrades or breakfast at the same price.
But for the top properties, where there’s big dollars involved, always check with a real specialist. They may have volume relationships with the property. Or they may effectively be rebating part of a commission to you (since it’s better for them to get some money, incentivizing you to book, than not get a booking).
Wendy is a great source for those experts to work with.