Is The Pandemic The End Of Hotel Book-Direct Supremacy?

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Club1 Hotels

For several years hotel chains have worked to get customers to ‘book direct’ rather than through third party agents because it lowers their distribution costs. They’ve imposed contracts that limit the ability of their properties to offer discounts, and they’ve advertised to convince you that booking directly through them gives you the lowest price, but that’s often not true.

  • Hotels want to earn the most money they can which sometimes means giving discounts to some guests that they hope aren’t available to other guests willing to pay more.
  • So you may find lower rates through brick and morter travel agencies focused on specific ethnic markets, or through online travel sites geared outside a hotel’s home country.

There are restrictions in place to try to prevent those rates from ‘leaking’ availability to the general public. However many sites do access wholesale rates, and are in control of how much commission they take versus lower prices to the customer.

One method of offering these is through a membership site like Club1 Hotels that hotel chains aren’t going to be willing to match their own rates against via a Best Rate Guarantee.

Now that the global pandemic has decimated hotel occupancy, properties are doing everything they can to cut costs and look for business – and that includes cutting more deals with third party distributors.

Club1 has long offered readers of this blog free memberships. Membership lets them offer rates through their wholesalers that can’t be advertised to the ‘public’. That didn’t always beat direct prices, but frequently enough did. It’s worth signing up while the free membership offer runs and keeping it in your arsenal to check pricing. I have a reader that’s saved a ton (thousands) on Hyatt all-inclusives.

Club1’s Managing Member Calin Paunescu tells me they’ve now been able to negotiate direct rates to offer to users of their site that guarantee savings every time.

With now over 476,000 direct contracts these savings will average easily 40% and up to 70%. These properties are located all over the world in the 3, 4 and 5-Star categories and include branded and independent properties.

Our direct contracts now include secondary markets as well as the top [Central Business District] and Resort markets. When we relied solely on wholesalers, bed banks and [Destination Management Companies] for inventory it was a hit or miss, with our direct contracts it is a win every time! Our direct contracts also include both refundable and non-refundable rates.

Here’s savings I was able to find:

  • Grand Hotel Palatino Rome $25/night
  • Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina Dubai $46/night
  • Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabos $38/night
  • The Plaza New York $127/night
  • Hilton Toronto $99/night
  • Monarch Beach Resort Dana Point $567/night

They’re a steal for the Conrad Maldives:

Of course booking through third parties may not earn points, receive elite credit, or program benefits – so the savings needs to justify that loss. Since Club1 really wants you to see that they’ll deliver you savings big enough to justify that.

They believe they’ll beat any other price, and they guarantee that.

Members receive Guaranteed Savings on every hotel booking made 5-days prior to arrival or cruise booking made 60-days prior to sailing.

If you find a better rate for the same hotel, room and rate type (refundable or non-refundable), we want to beat that rate by:

$10 per night guaranteed savings at 3-star hotels up to $20
$15 per night guaranteed savings at 4-star hotels up to $45
$20 per night guaranteed savings at 5-star hotels up to $60 up to $100 on reservations $900 or more

Access to wholesale rates and a best rate guarantee makes it worth poking around this week for potential big hotel savings.

You don’t even need to be ready to travel now, just sign up to have this in your bag of tricks as you start to search and compare.

Club1 Hotels

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So basically you are writing about this as news because, once a reader of your blog signs up and books a hotel, you benefit. Yes the lower prices could benefit your readers but presenting it as the possible end of direct booking is a bit premature.

  2. Assuming since this is a 3rd party booking, no hotel elite benefits on property, right?

    If that’s the case – you really should mention that

  3. I agree with UA-NYC only if the hotels / chains see benefit one will not get their points let along questionable status benefits as well. I had that happen once with an Expedia booking long time ago after that all direct booking. Not sure any of us really knows what travel will look like a year or so from now, if you looked at our travel “wants’ nothing has changed with international travel having said that the higher population gets the more we might see these virus outbreaks.

  4. You ‘forgot’ to mention the best rate guarantee requires a paid membership…

  5. I use this a couple of times a year and it saves me money. I don’t really care about Lounge benefits at a hotel, although a couple of years ago I got a crazy good rate at a Traders Hotel that included lounge access. It doesn’t bother me that Gary might benefit from me using Club 1 as long as it saves me money, and it shouldn’t bother any of you, either. His disclosures are plastered all over the site, so you’d be pretty careless or naive to miss that. And yeah, the article does mention that if you book through third-party sites you might not get your special benefits from whatever status program you have. Given how unpredictable everything is nowadays, I’d rather take the savings upfront than get points for my stay, points that I may never be able to use anyway.

  6. With the free 1 year membership will they at least match the best other price?

  7. I signed up for Club1 years ago when you posted about it and offered free membership. Still have access and have never paid a fee. I have only used it occasionally, but saved a ton of money one time on an all inclusive in Mexico.

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