We booked a hotel in Key West FL. Fair deal. Show up, no reservation. Turns out they gave us the wrong hotel info. It was super late and we couldn't resolve the mess with hotels' customer service over the phone so we just crashed where we arrived. Took months to get the charges for the other booking reversed.
People at hotel where we arrived said it happens all the time.
For our next trip, resolved to not use hotels.com ever again, I found hotel via the web. Called the number. Turns out both the website and phone number were SEO optimized front companies that book thru hotels.com. Which we did not discover until we arrived and there was a problem with the booking. We paid $40 extra per night for the privilege of being lied to.
Personally, as a consumer, I'm very grumpy that I'm constantly being lied to. I work hard for my money. I try to be diligent about how I spend it. And I'm sick of being robbed by legal means. It seems to be getting worse (ISPs, banks, phone companies, mortgages, etc). I'm now more reluctant to spend money. Because now my transaction costs are getting too high. Too much friction.
If my wary consumer experience is widespread, it has to be dampening the economy.
Free market! Woot!
Got to hotel, only to be told that hotels.com screwed up and confirmed 30 reservations when in fact the hotel in fact had 2 available rooms for the day.
Went to a friend's house, as no other hotel around was available. Called hotels.com; waited an hour on the phone, no answer. Disputed charge with credit card company (took less than 10 minutes), and emailed them that I've disputed, and if they want it to NOT go through they are welcome to contact me.
They emailed me within 24 hours with some credit, saying it will take them 72 hours to resolve. After 120 hours, I email them; they say it's going to "take them more time". After 4 more days, I email them - still no response.
The next morning, credit card company gave me my money back. Haven't heard from hotels.com since, but I have a paper trail saying they will check and contact me, and then silence. And so does the credit card company.
Never booking through hotels.com again, even if it means I have to work much more to figure out a direct phone number.
Automated teller machine machine?
> For the most availability, best prices and service,
> always book directly with a hotel.
I think it's a gross misrepresentation to say that the customer is always best off booking directly with the hotel. You get something you wouldn't get when booking directly through the hotel.
When you use an OTA you have collective bargaining power; If the hotel screws you around in any way it's now the OTA's problem. They'll call up the hotel on your behalf (in their native language, which you may or may not speak) and either sort it out with them or make sure you have somewhere else to stay because you're now their customer.
Of course the service you get differs a lot by OTA. But from the customer's perspective there's usually a net gain by booking through one.
> If the hotel screws you around in any way it's now the OTA's problem
> or make sure you have somewhere else to stay because you're now their customer
So far you guys are trying to help, but I can't say that the problem is resolved or that it feels like you're treating it as your problem. To quote a part of the latest email from booking.com on this:
> ... the hotels themselves are responsible for all the information provided to you. Booking.com acts as an intermediary between the guest and the hotel and is therefore responsible for delivering the reservation correctly to the hotel. Once the hotel has confirmed the reservation it then becomes their responsibility to accommodate the guests.
Have you considered you may be a rude and cynical person?
If he truly believes his company genuinely values customer service, it would be more interesting for him to stick around and explain why the problem doesn't get solved as the complainer tries to work his way through it with no outside assistance.
Getting someone to solve a problem from the inside is useful only to the single person with a problem.
That being said, OTAs have to operate in an online world, when complaints such as mine can easily get publicity and it ends up hurting the OTAs business. So the OTA can play whack-a-mole and deal only with the cases that get public attention, or it can realise it's much better off always keeping its customers happy (on both side of the fence).
I am hoping that these cases and others help sway OTAs to do The Right Thing (TM), rather than constantly do fire-fighting.
100% agree. I would suggest that the cost of doing this compared to the small downside of not "making things right" makes it a pretty simple decision. The vast majority of their customers will never, ever read an in-depth article of a problem, or a forum discussion. There is very little economic incentive for them to change anything.
I won't be using them!
When you book with a respectable OTA, it is basically like purchasing comfort insurance, but you pay nothing for it. You are being backed by their brand and your problems become theirs to solve. OTA's sometimes offer perks to people who book through them like free or discounted transportation and comped room upgrades.
Also, it is often in the contract between the hotel and the OTA that the hotel will always advertise the lowest rate available through that OTA. If the hotel works with several OTA's, then the hotel must offer the same room rate to each one that they have this arrangement with. They sometimes offer the same rate on their own, too. If you contact the hotel and ask for a room directly, and they offer you a lower rate, there is a chance that they are in breach of contract.
So the customer should definitely be getting value from their decision to book through an OTA.
For hotels, they usually have contracts with several OTA's. To let them know which rooms to sell, a hotelier will periodically update the availability and rates using a CRS that distributes the information to several OTA's, simplifying the process. But there are some really nasty CRS's out there, built in the 70s on mainframes that have not changed much since. They can be complicated to work with, and discourage smaller properties from putting in the effort. It sounds like the writer likely had a problem updating availability information through the CRS that expedia uses, leading to them not showing any availability.
> Also, it is often in the contract between the hotel and the OTA that the hotel will always advertise the lowest rate available through that OTA. ... If you contact the hotel and ask for a room directly, and they offer you a lower rate, there is a chance that they are in breach of contract.
You're scare mongering. A hotel can charge a customer anything they like. They can give them the room for free. Your contract with them MIGHT preclude them ADVERTISING a lower rate, but it doesn't preclude them offering a lower rate when asked for a room directly. Even if it did, the only remedy I can imagine would be ending the contract.
When I want a room today or tomorrow, I find the best rates I can via OTAs, then phone the hotel and ask for the manager. I then ask for and GET a cheaper rate because they don't have to take the 25% OTA hit.
Until the web is flooded with "would you believe the extra value this OTA provided?" I'll continue to avoid them.
I was left wondering. The day I open my own internet service I'll try to provide such good support.
When you're dealing with a customer you get through a lucrative distribution channel you're liable to lose your standing on the distribution channel as a whole.
Negative reviews by that customer and customer service load on the distribution channel caused by you will impact your future business as a whole. This is true for all major distribution channels that I know of, such as Amazon.com, eBay and various OTA's.
Don't underestimate the impact of sites like tripadvisor where one unhappy customer is very visible.
As far as I'm aware airbnb has made a lot of progress in this very area, verifying photos and information posted, checking the identities of the guests, that helps protecting both the host and the guest. There's no reason why OTAs can't do the same with hotels.
For your average Marriott, Hilton, etc, I agree with you, calling the hotel directly isn't going to do much for you unless there is some special circumstance.
We're hiring, and not just "Perl guy[s]". We hire good programmers, some of them know Perl already, but others pick it up while on the job.
Contact me at email@example.com if you (or anyone else here) would be interested in exploring opportunities at Booking.com. Our current openings are listed at booking.com/jobs.
It has never been the case with me. Expedia, or any other travel site, always had better deals. In fact, I once called the hotel in question to ask why there is a big price discrepancy between their site listing and makemytrip. I was concerned makemytrip is selling me rooms that doesn't exist and the hotel won't honor my reservation. The hotel staff told me the hotel sells rooms to makemytrip well in advance, and whatever the price that is listed on makemytrip will be honored(doesn't really matter; you pay directly to makemytrip).
Also, I am a bit paranoid. I would hate it if some hotel overbooked and told me "lol sorry" when I arrive. I know travel sites aren't really on my side, but at least I will have someone to appeal to.
I didn't have any bad experience with Expedia but then, I had very limited interactions with them(I didn't even modify or cancel my bookings).
I would advice against agoda and booking.com as they forward your credit card info to the hotel as security. In what world does forwarding a customer's credit card info to a random hotel makes sense? Imagine the surprise when you are at the hotel counter and the staff shows you a printout of your credit card info(nothing obscured; everything in plain text).
> If you would like to know more about our hotel just visit our website at www.lunabluehotel.com.
I tried, and the link is down. Most of the hotels don't even have websites, let alone online reservations. There is a reason customers go to expedia in the first place.
EDIT: Random travel tip. If you are in a foreign or an unknown location, a hotel which provides airport transfer generally ends up cheaper than a hotel which doesn't + cab fares. You would be surprised how wrong your assumptions about transport might be. "You have a flight to catch at 8, it's 5, you are in the lobby and there isn't a cab in sight and looks unlikely there will be one for another 2 hours" isn't a pleasant situation to be in.
> I would advice against agoda and booking.com as they
> forward your credit card info to the hotel as security.
Companies like Expedia follow the merchant model, they buy up hotels rooms in bulk in advance and then re-sell them directly to customers. When you buy from a merchant your credit card isn't shared with the hotel as there's no need to do so.
Other companies like Booking.com and Agoda follow the agency model. They find customers for the hotels, forward their payment details along to the hotel, the hotel charges the customer, and then pays the agency a percentage of the booking as an agency fee.
Both models have their pros and cons. The merchant model works brilliantly in the US where large chains are the norm. It works less well in Europe where the vast number of hotels are small properties.
> Imagine the surprise when you are at the hotel counter
> and the staff shows you a printout of your credit card
> info(nothing obscured; everything in plain text).
I think you'd also be very surprised at the number of other merchants you might deal with where this is the case. Having a printout with a credit card number is not at all unusual in a lot of businesses.
Security, as in, the hotel will charge me with the passed-on information if I don't turn up. I still have to swipe my card if I turn up.
I don't like increasing the number of variables. When I pay directly to booking.com, I am dealing with a PCI compliant company. When you pass my credit card info to a hotel clerk, I am dealing with a hotel clerk who has my info who is free to pass it to his friends, or dump it in a trash can(knowingly or unknowingly) from where someone else picks it up.
Yes, I get it. Once you fax it to the hotel, it's not your problem. But how does it make things any better for me? You are still PCI compliant, but the customer now has his info passed to a random hotel clerk.
When you hand your credit card over to any clerk anywhere you're giving them access to your name and credit card number. If you hadn't booked through an OTA your credit card number would have likely been manually written down anyway on a piece of paper by the clerk at the desk.
All of this is PCI compliant, in order to process payments at all the hotel has a contract with the credit card company (or a local bank by proxy) which stipulates that they have to adhere to the relevant PCI standards.
Could this be more secure? Of course it could. But credit cards were never meant to be secure. They explicitly take convenience and the ability to do offline payments (writing down your credit card number for later) over security. If anything goes wrong they'll use some of the money they get from transaction fees to refund fraudulent payments.
The larger hotel franchises are combating this with www.roomkey.com, which is a direct link to the hotel.
As for credit cards, all major hotels (Choice/IHG/Wyndham/Hilton/Accor) have systems that comply with credit card standards. Credit card numbers should not, and I have never seen them, printed plainly on any piece of paper. They are not even visible to most employees, only managers, if proper procedures are followed. They are forwarded to hotels as a security deposit because sometimes the third party websites are not paying, the guest is, and the hotel then pays the travel agent. In this case, the hotel needs the guest's card info to authorize the card after the cancellation period has expired, so that the hotel has a guarantee of being able to collect the money.
>I tried, and the link is down. Most of the hotels don't even have websites, let alone online reservations. There is a reason customers go to expedia in the first place.
In America, most hotels certainly do have websites, via their franchise. If they don't, I'd advise looking up their phone number (google, tripadvisor), and calling them.
I have seen the proper procedure violated. I don't think hotels need to comply with PCI, so that safety net isn't there. I am a bit paranoid and I can't just count on people being good and competent.
> In this case, the hotel needs the guest's card info to authorize the card after the cancellation period has expired, so that the hotel has a guarantee of being able to collect the money.
Won't work with me. I do all online payments with a virtual credit card. The virtual credit card is linked with my actual credit card and I can reset the limit of the card as often as I like. If I am buying a hotel room which lists itself as X per night and I am buying it for 2 nights, I reset my limit to 2*X and make the booking. If you try to slap extra charges on me, the transaction will be denied.
In a similar vein, if I don't turn up, I will simply reset my limit to 0. The hotel won't be able to charge me.
lunabluehotel.com seems to have gone offline yesterday, I suspect as a result of a traffic spike following their blog post. From their twitter stream:
> Seems that our website, http://www.lunabluehotel.com is currently down. We have a call in to find out why & solve the... http://fb.me/15notFYoE
(Note the link at the end of the tweet is also broken.) They also posted on the 23rd that views of their wordpress-hosted blog post were spiking:
> We just noticed that views of our Expedia blog post have gone through the roof for the 24 hours or so, all coming... http://fb.me/zyw2aX7R
When you book via Agoda.com you get points that can be used toward future bookings. It’s effectively a 4% rebate, so even if the hotel can match the Agoda price, it’s still a better deal to book it via Agoda, that said, in the past I would often ask the hotel, before booking, if they could match the Agoda price, and more often than not, the answer was no.
Despite my best efforts, I did not succeed in getting an explanation of this policy.
In the case of Agoda, they do not buy the rooms in advance.
I never bothered following up on that though, as it seemed more hassle than just booking via Agoda.
I always pay agoda with paypal when I travel in SE Asia, and now more than ever i'm glad for it ...
What most likely happened was this: Expedia and other big players buy wholesale room inventory from large hotel chains. Expedia might come up and say that they want to buy 30% of the rooms of a hotel for a certain period at a steeply discounted price.
This might be something that the hotel itself can't fill, so the happily sell to Expedia et al. To Expedia, selling these rooms might be something like 80% profit, against 25% for a small hotel such as the Luna Blue.
Expedia then promotes the hell out of the hotel through their website: they make it appear on top of search results, they "pimp" they profile of the hotel, and such. They are not allowed to undercut the price, because other retailers might ask for the same price.
Then, the office managers of Expedia Cancún are most likely on some sort of incentive to sell most of these wholesale rooms (travel is dominated by such economic incentives). The hack is is pretty clear: "closing" smaller hotels causes users to book another hotel, and it will most likely be one of these pimped out hotel profiles that provide much more profit than other hotels.
I'm guessing this is a regional issue, just some dim witted office managers at Cancún that are trying to game the system in order to get a big incentive.
Personally, I am getting tired of hearing lie after lie from corporations. I have always been right wing or libertarian, but I am starting to adopt the political opinion that I would like to see the government step in and start punishing these companies so hard that they will very seriously regret that they didn't self-police.
>either use the internet to do the research or go to a reputable travel agent.
Let's look at these alternatives. Use the internet to do the research? Expedia makes it very easy, that's the point. Are its competitors better? Maybe. How am I supposed to be able to tell? Is Hipmunk also evil? Orbitz? Some other random website I find which compares hotels? If I use these websites to do my research and then book directly, I'm avoid some of the problems -- but probably not all?
Go to a reputable travel agent? No, sorry. That's a pain in the ass.
I'm disappointed in this article. It makes a very convincing case that we should avoid huge internet travel monopolies, but yet doesn't compellingly suggest what I should do instead.
Also, the best method is simply finding out the hotel's phone number via Google or TripAdvisor, and speaking with someone at the hotel. This way, you can guarantee yourself a certain room at a certain location in the hotel, away from traffic noise, on the 2nd floor, etc. I recommend TripAdvisor for reviews, they have an option where hotel managers can sign up and respond to guest complaints.
No hotel will guarantee a specific room but with any booking engine you're able to put in specific requests in the comments area that the hotel will try and honor. To have the best chance of getting those rooms, you actually have to talk to the hotel around the time of room assignment (24-48 hours prior to arrival) so that they can actually do something about your request. Check out the floor plans and virtual views we've compiled at room77.com for ~3,000 hotels to get some specific room numbers to ask for.
We have about 3,000 hotels for which we have floor plans and views for mostly in the US and over 16,000 that have unique "Insider Tips" about what rooms are best in a hotel. We search 200,000+ hotels so that content is a bit hard to find right now and we're working on exposing it more. We continue to add more content daily.
Would love any feedback you have.
Today, travelers can pick their seats on a flight or pick their cabin on a cruise but yet you're still not able to pick a hotel room for various reasons. If the industry moves to support this model, we'll be there with our room data ready and willing to integrate.
(1) I cannot easily garner which big corporations are "evil" and which are good. I do not have any practical way of finding out about hotels elsewhere without going through some large corporation. Whether it be Expedia, Hotels.com, Hipmunk (okay, Hipmunk is probably smaller), Google, Yelp... I have heard complaints about all of them. If I switch from Expedia to something else, am I doing better?
(2) My time is valuable. If two minutes of effort on my part would divert $20 from Expedia to an independent hotelier, and everything would otherwise be the same for me, then I would happily do this.
Sometimes, surely it would. But it is my experience that this often takes more effort than it should, the first phone number I call often turns out not to be the right number, or the price will be higher, or I get put on hold, etc., etc.
And for that matter, don't travel agents charge commissions too? They have to eat, so someone has to pay them. I don't want to pay extra, and if the hoteliers pay the commissions, then is this better than Expedia?
Grant me at least that the solution is not obvious.
On everything else related to their treatment by Expedia I am all with them.
I think this should be fixed with either suing the company and the people involved (granted everything they wrote is true) or talking to a high level manager who could look into the case and make the right decision (ie. Fire the people who were involved).
1) Middlemen always need their cut. In this case, you pay the website, and then the website pays the hotel less.
2) By bypassing the middleman (call the hotel directly, and speak to that specific location's on site employees), you SHOULD be able to get a better deal. Simply compare prices, and if you find it cheaper on a website, ask the hotel to give you 5% off. Any competent manager will do this because it costs much more than 5% to get your reservation from a travel agent. Obviously, they will have to verify that third party price, but in the case of Expedia, they can just search it.
3) Additionally, it's good to book directly with the hotel for the following reasons too (or at least call them directly after booking online to confirm):
-In the fine print of travel websites' T&C, it will say you are guaranteed A room, not THE room you want. This means if only smoking rooms are available, the third party site will still sell it to you as a non smoking room. Also, there are many incompatibilities in the GDS/Central reservation system software, so there is a chance there can be an error in your reservation.
-Third party reservations don't go to the hotel with the guest's contact information. This means if the hotel wants to contact you about some issue, they cannot reach you, and the websites won't give out the guest's information. This was a big problem during Sandy a few months ago.
All in all, third party websites are a relic of the times when hotels did not have the technical expertise to implement internet reservation systems. Nowadays, you can just look up the hotel's reviews on TripAdvisor, call the hotel directly, and make sure you get the room you want by speaking with someone directly at the property, with actual knowledge of the place. The ONLY benefit these third party websites can provide, seems to be with the bundling of hotels/flights/rental cars, but I still wouldn't use them. Going straight to the vendor has been the more pleasant experience for me.
Edit: I should have noted that my knowledge comes from US and British hotels, mostly franchises like IHG/Hilton/Choice/Wyndham.
1. Often the hotels themselves charge the customer, and pay the OTA commission on a monthly basis.
2. Many contracts between hotels and availability services mandate that the hotel provide the lowest rate to the OTA, and that if they use several that the rates are in parity with each other. If you find a lower rate by going to the hotel directly, there's a chance that they are breaching contract.
3. The OTA can only be as accurate as the hotelier providing it with information. If the customer is not satisfied, we get a partial refund or credits for future bookings. For our more remote hotels, sometimes they have to throw up a satellite transmitter once a week and update the information they are telling the world about themselves. If they are on a good CRS, it will fan-out that information to many online sites.
The OTA I'm at does provide the hotel with the customer's information, and requires that all communications between the hotel and customer are CC'd to them. This is because when the customer calls our customer service with a problem, we want to know what the back-and-forth between them and the hotel was so we can address the issue more objectively.
Third party websites yield value to people who feel like being backed by the OTA's brand to ensure that they receive the experience they paid for. They offer comfort insurance, and will go through the hassle of fixing problems with the hotel for you. For hotels, the agency may also forward their information to google and bid on ad placement. The one I'm at also guarantees certain perks to people who book through us, and offer a membership program for travelers to receive champagne on arrival, breakfast, transportation, etc... It sounds like you've really been burned by the lower end OTA's. Sorry for the blatant spam, but maybe you'd be interested in TabletHotels.com
However, for run of the mill franchise hotels, the quality control is already being provided for by franchises (i.e. Marriot, Hilton, Choice, Wyndham, IHG, Accor, etc). In my experience, third party reservations at these places is only a hindrance because the OTAs don't guarantee room types, so people show up expecting a certain type of room, but the OTA takes whatever is available from the hotel, even if it's not what the guest wants, and then the hotel has to deal with the fallout when the guest arrives.
I did. The staff told me they sold a number of rooms well in advance, and the travel site does the pricing with a guaranteed return to the hotel. To the hotel, it doesn't matter how much they are selling it for, but they can do only what is listed on the site.
Also, many 3 star rated hotels don't have online reservations.
Basically, the hotel manager can decide to make rooms available to those travel agents, and then they are displayed on Expedia's website. If someone buys it via Expedia, then Expedia sends over a reservation to the hotel's Central Reservation System with just the guest's name, and Expedia's card, and the system is instructed to NOT print receipts or room rates for the guest, so that they do not find out what Expedia is paying the hotel.
What you were told may be true, but I bet it was just a desk clerk that didn't know any better.
First of all they have a well-deserved reputation for bad customer service.
Google the words “Expedia bad customer service” and see what comes up.
Anecdotal I know, but I've used Expedia twice, and will never use them again.
It took a year and an offer to take the case to court before they issued a refund, and the second time they just screwed all the bookings up with no apology or comment upon complaint.
I wouldn't want to use a company (no matter how good they are) who have been known for crushing smaller players to maximize their bottom line.
Frankly I'm biased against large organizations in general, and so I'm tempted to take this post at face value, and get angry with Expedia. And perhaps that's the right thing to do (although, as someone else pointed out, some e-mail quotes, screenshots, or other corroborating evidence would make for a more convincing story). But I can't help but think that we're all missing the big picture: that the high price of justice creates an enormous advantage for large companies. That justice is priced out of most people's ability.
I used to hear about how 'litigious' American society has become. And yet, is that really true? Personal injury is no doubt quite popular. What what about simple fraud and breech of contract? What about conspiracy to commit fraud?
Unless the justice system is priced for people to actually use it, then it's useless. So the question arises: what cheaper options does the OP have for pursuing this case?
Perhaps it's naive, but I feel safer booking direct, because then if I have any problems, I'm dealing with a first-party and it's harder to be given the three-way runaround.
I don't know if other airlines do this too but if I'm flying Delta it is a motivator to book directly. Which I'm sure is the point.
In that order with JetBlue mixed in somewhere in there. Helps to have a narrow set if you are racking up air miles and I've had HORRID experiences with the others. I only take them if I have to now
So many of the negatives associated with air travel typically boil down to shopping based solely on base price, with zero brand loyalty, and then being surprised that the airline doesn't treat you as well as a repeat customer who buys (or has an employer who buys) full-fare tickets. And so much of the difference between the full and discounted fares typically gets made up one way or another; either you're paying about the same as someone who bought "discount" but now is getting socked with fees left and right to check bags, use power outlets, etc., or often it just evens out over the course of enough flights.
Honestly, I'm not thrilled about Southwest. They'll get you there... but eh.
Delta is by far the worst I've dealt with. No other carrier even comes close on that score.
I'm currently with US Airways (Platinum) for various reasons; they've treated me pretty well, their hubs are decent enough, routes are convenient, and they fly real planes rather than cramped CRJ lawn darts in and out of my home airport (Kansas City). And it's comforting to know, at the moment, that if they do screw up horribly I have other options within the alliance, though the looming prospect of the AA merger is going to lead to some serious thinking about whether I should just do it pre-emptively.
Among the low-cost carriers I don't mind Southwest so much. They're kind of the Chipotle of airlines; you know what you're going to get, you know it's not the greatest but also not the worst, and they have some quirky branding and service aspects that inspire loyalty among their regular customers. If I were going to fly an LCC, though, I'd probably pick Frontier just because they give a bit more bang for the buck on the routes I'm most likely to fly.
A few years ago I booked a trip to the UK to visit some friends. The morning I was supposed to leave, I get an email from one of my friends saying that I should check if my flight is still on, because there is "something going on with a volcano in Iceland". Turns out it's the start of that major eruption and all air traffic in Northern Europe is grounded with no foreseeable reopening.
I first called the airline, Virgin Atlantic. They were very friendly, apologetic, and as helpful as possible. They said they could reschedule me, but given all the unknowns they weren't making any new bookings for at least 2 weeks. Now this was a two week vacation I was taking, with lots of other things scheduled, so I couldn't really just up and shift the whole thing two weeks on a whim. They would have gladly given a refund, but since I booked through Expedia, I had to talk to them. That's when things started going downhill.
First of all, even on what I'm sure was a crazy customer service day, the people at Virgin answered the phone in minutes and were quite friendly. The Expedia call took almost an hour to be answered. Every agent I spoke too was borderline rude and confrontational, and had the worst broken English of any oversees call center I've dealt with. From the start they only wanted to argue, that because it was the day of the flight, I could neither cancel or reschedule. Finally, after about 90 minutes of arguing and being transferred, I got to a high enough manager who actually seemed to listen to what I said and not just be reading a script, and got my refund authorized. And I thought it was over.
Months go by and the credit never appears back to my card. I call Expedia a couple times, each time they say it is being processed by the CC company, but it can take up to 90 days. I check with the CC, they have no record of the credit. Finally after 90 days, I get a hold of Expedia and they say it is fine if I just have the CC company cancel the transaction on their end (as a dispute), as there must have been a "glitch" somewhere. And that flipped the trouble switch.
Apparently there is an automated system in Expedia, if you dispute their charge with you CC company, they automatically flip it to a collections agency. A few months after I did, I got a very threatening letter and phone call saying I owed the charge plus penalties and interest. If I did not pay, they would flag my credit rating and possibly take further legal action. I contacted Expedia again to ask WTF is going on, and their response was that they are not allowed to communicate with the collections agency once the matter has been given to them. They were confident that if i just explained why I didn't owe the money, the collections guys would drop it. But they couldn't provide me with any documentation to give them.
After another month of letters and phone calls with the collections agents, and quite a bit of stress on my end, I stopped hearing from them so I guess it was resolved.
Keep in mind, all told this is about 8 months down the road from when I was originally supposed to travel. In fact I rebooked the entire trip for about a month after the original, and had already gone and come back. But definitely not with Expedia.
Sample dispute letter: http://nedap.org/resources/documents/DisputeLetterwithElectr...
Sample "cease contact" letter: http://nedap.org/resources/documents/CeaseLetterwithElectron...
It's actually a pretty nice, common sense law. Note that if you intend to dispute the charge, you should move quickly: there's a 30 day limit from first notice.
I called Expedia. They told me to rent a car from Hertz and pay for it, they'd pay for it. When I called Expedia on subsequent days nobody knew anything about this conversation. They refused to pay for my rental, and said that if I could prove that Alamo was closed they would refund the original rental. Of course it would be a long and tedious process.
It wasn't worth my time, so I forgot about it. Never used Expedia again.
Yes, collection agencies are an understanding and forgiving bunch.
EDIT: Typo fixed.
Because the hotel will make more profit from you, you have a higher chance of getting a room upgrade at the property, better amenities or even just better service if you book direct rather than via Expedia.
At hotels that don't have problems selling rooms, they have no reason to offer rooms to travel agents, so you won't see any price discrepancies there. In fact, you probably won't even see the room offered on third party websites.
That means some room may be marked open on one website and another room on another. If there's a large number of rooms open, there may be some overlap... but then overlap means a possibility of overbooking. I've seen the systems that small hotels have to deal with and really I'm surprised we don't run into overbooking more frequently.
I'm also surprised that the links broke and Expedia's "IT department" said they'll "never" be fixed. That doesn't really make any sense. I can't help but think that the images are hosted by the hotel itself and that they broke the images. I don't know. The story sounds plausible but unlikely to me and has all the classic "crazy person" literary features. (Some sources to back this up would be good: emails, screenshots, etc.)
First, Expedia, as a service business, should definitely pay attention to passionate customers. Word of mouth matters.
Second, this lacks "all the classic 'crazy person' literary features." The copy is reasonably well written, the formatting is solid, the narrative is coherent, and it's part of a long-running blog with reasonable articles. It's a bit over-written and over-dramatic, but not egregiously so.
EDIT: I strongly recommend to read the comments, someone wrote that he witnessed this personally (of course comments could be fake but it's still something).
David Beau. said - December 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm
We can verify parts of this. We have stayed at the Luna Blue almost every year since Tony and Cheri have opened.
In late 2011 I was checking on availability of the Luna Blue for our vacation. I was surprized to find expedia said they had no room available.
I then checked a couple other small hotels in Playa and was told they were also full. I then contacted Cheri and found that they did have plenty of rooms. Which we did book thru the hotel.
Deanna said - December 5, 2012 at 11:03 am
I know first hand about this. I had booked a room back in Feb. to travel in November. I got an email mid Oct. from Hotels.com that Luna Blue no longer had any openings for that time. It didn’t make sense to me.
After calling Hotels.com and them wanting me to book elsewhere I got hold of Cheri. She was in San Francisco at the time but took the time out to make sure I was able to rebook through their website directly for the time I had originally booked.
I was also able to save 10% off what I had originally expected to pay. We went and stayed at Luna Blue and it was truly a wonderful experience. Cheri was out of town when we came so I was not able to meet her but Tony made us feel welcome and we wish you guys all the luck fighting this horrible thing that has happened.
I would certainly stay here again if I return to Playa.
I looked up the hotel on the corporate website and it showed it as completely booked, and this particular had didn't show up in any searches for rooms because of that.
I ended up calling them and found out they had left the chain and were becoming independent and had plenty of rooms. So I can't confirm this small business' story, I Can confirm that similar things happen.
Of note, the subtitle on the resulting page: [Expedia and companies] Portrayed [hotels] as fully booked even though they were not.
Also a part regarding images not hosted on Expedia. Do you really think such a big company as Expedia will allow to host images on hotel's own servers? It's impossible to handle Expedias traffic with a small shared hosting which most of the small hotels are using...
The screenshots of email is a feature of tech industry rants - an industry which tends to take email as more self verifying than the general populace.
By making Expedia aware of how their local managers are operating they might actually get this fixed. No OTA wants this kind of bad publicity. Just the US alone my employer (and its parent company) have nearly 300,000 hotels available. Keeping the data current is a massive pain at that scale since at the other end are individual people.
Also note that for most OTA's there are only a couple providers of hotel photos and one dominant one, and we all hate them as they suck terribly. Unless you are a speciality provider like Oyster or Hotel Tonight and can take the few photos you need, or are Tripadvisor and can get customers to take them, you are at the mercy of the photo provider.
So a quality bitching can get you better service (as a hotel provider) from an OTA. Even better is make a deal with someone who provides small hotels with data management (which does cost money) so that your room availability is all electronic.
The hotel business is all about filling rooms. The average hotel hopes for 70% rooms filled tonight. OTA's do provide a lot of hotel bookings so you can't do without them. But if the local OTA hotel property manager sucks there are 4 major players you can deal with (plus all the speciality ones). Yes you have to give them a commission (20%+ usually) but if you work with them correctly they can fill your rooms.
A bit of a shame because I've found Expedia to be pretty decent for booking flights (though that's mostly by way of comparison with other sites; most flight booking sites are jaw-droppingly horrible...).
It's visualization of flights schedules is awesome!
This is bad for consumers and bad for hotels. I like small local hotels. I want them to succeed. I want an easier way to connect with them. They are hard to find on hotels.com, etc. and I always assumed it was because the owners didn't maintain the listing, but it seems it's because expedia doesn't care.
I've also used Expedia to book a stay in Cancun a few years ago; they had a number of mom and pop hotels listed with rich details, but Ultimately I got a great combo rate at the Ritz Carlton (like $240 - it was about a week before the season really began); this rate was not available on the Ritz website.
I have had some bad experiences with Expedia when requesting refunds or changes, though this has improved over the past 2 years with more software features and slightly better call center agents (ymmv).
Ultimately I'll book direct with the hotel or airline if I have a specific reason to (schedule, FF points, upgrades, etc), but for easy price comparison and research I tend to rely on Kayak and Expedia almost exclusively.
This posting has not changed my mind that they offer a good service - they seem to have issues with their Latin American offices.
Check out this (poorly tranlated) article from Norway:
No matter what hotel you're googling for, your search results will be chock-full of these bastards.
In Denmark at least, I have found that they typically do offer discounted rates that the hotel's own website doesn't offer, especially for smaller hotels during periods of lower demand. If you're booking off-season at the last minute, I've found discounts on hotels.com of 40-60% relative to what the online-booking system of the hotel's own website was showing. One example where I've stayed a few times (http://www.hotel-maritime.dk/) was offering €50/night via hotels.com in late January 2012, at a time when their own website was listing €80/night. It's frequent enough that I advise my friends visiting Copenhagen to always check a hotel's rate on hotels.com before booking through the hotel's website, in case there's a substantial difference.
Hint: a red flag right there. You're selling what's perceived as standardized commodity. If a long and detailed list made the job of corporate copy-and-paster hard, imagine potential customer confusion.
I do use Orbitz. I'm not sure if they are guilty of the same sins, but I've generally found their service to be adequate. I book directly with airlines when it makes sense and doesn't take too much effort - but most hotel booking sites are horrible and prices are usually higher.
It would be great if an open platform like AirBNB emerged for hotels - perhaps AirBNB itself.
This is forbidden to be disclosed because business contract details are covered under an NDA they signed with Expedia. 25% is their negotiated commission but it will vary by partner and hence they don't want that being disclosed to be used as leverage in negotiations with other hotels.
> For the most availability, best prices and service, always book directly with a hotel.
This may be the case with the Luna Blue, but is definitely not what we at Room 77 see in the marketplace. We're connecting with the GDS and pretty much every major OTA in the US (Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com, Priceline, etc.) and what we're seeing is increasing price fragmentation in the marketplace. This is why we fundamentally believe that metasearch is a better model for the consumer since prices and availability do vary.
> Secondly they do not offer discounted rates as many claim.
As someone else mentioned, even if a rate is not discounted against the rate the hotel has directly, it may be a promotion against the regular rate and you have to factor in the loyalty programs that exist on many OTA sites (Hotels.com book 10 get 1 free, Agoda 4% rewards, etc.). The most probable reason that an OTA has a lower rate is that the room availability has changed. For example, a hotel has two types of rooms (A & B) may have presold a percentage to Expedia and if the hotel has sold their own allocation of room type A and only has room type B left, the lowest price the hotel has for ANY room is the price of room type B. Expedia may then show a lower price for a hotel because they still have room type A available to sell to travelers since they own that percentage of inventory that was presold to them.
The core value proposition of booking through an online agency wasn't really addressed by Tony and Cheri which is that people by and large don't want to shop a single hotel's price and availability. When I want to go to Playa del Carmen, I want to see ALL options I have in an area and compare hotels and rates and the easiest way to do that is through an OTA or a metasearch engine.
Booking directly through a hotel has it's own advantages which include: 1) payment is usually not required until you arrive at the hotel, 2) you earn the hotel's loyalty points if they have a program, and 3) the hotel will prioritize your booking for upgrades, etc. since they didn't have to pay a large commission.
From my perspective working at a metasearch company, we want to provide maximum choice and availability of options/inventory so we show both direct hotel inventory and OTA inventory and let consumers decide which one they want to choose.
Yes, Expedia sucks, but here's what you should do
YOU make your website and booking system available on the web. Make people able to google your hotel and get there. (Edit: this seems to be already in place)
If I search your hotel on Expedia and it shows no dates available, I begin to suspect Expedia, or your integration of systems with them.
And if they really say your hotel is going out of business, get a lawyer. Edit: get a lawyer NOW
I have had great luck with Hotwire (an Expedia subsidiary) and have discovered many neat hotels with it. I live in Florida and frequently book hotel room on the various beaches for easy short vacations, the only motivator is location and price (if nothing is available, I don't go). I have booked directly at some of the places I found, but if it weren't for their being on Hotwire I never would have found them.
Also, the cost savings with Hotwire is frequently massive (50% off is not uncommon)--I haven't been able to book directly for cheaper (the trick is Hotwire doesn't tell you the exact hotel before you book, so if you want to ensure the same property you need to direct book and pay more).
Never had problems with expedia&co myself but i rarely need to cancel/change reservations.
It's not my fault that the whole hotel business doesn't seem to be capable enough to do this on their own.
In fact, letting them know you are recording them is a great way to get them to take you seriously. I've gotten a phone call from a VP of a company, wishing to "settle our differences" to my satisfaction once word got to him that I had recorded a conversation with a beligerent rep.
Wish I hadn't wasted all those nights getting expedia points worth what $10 bux maybe after 20+ nights?