Serious question: Why do so many people use Travelocity, Expedia, etc?

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AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#1
I am so baffled by all the people who actually book their vacations, cars, hotels, whatever, using these websites. Why don't they just use the hotel's, or Hertz's, or United's own websites to buy their plane tickets, etc? It seems to me like you're just asking for trouble. If I buy a ticket on United's website and there is a problem with my flight, United isn't able to weasel out of fixing it by blaming it on Travelocity. If I have a confirmation email from Hertz and my car isn't there, the desk agent can't tell me to call Expedia.

Why do people use these sites to book their travel?
 
Jan 8, 2015
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#2
These websites allow people to compare dozens, if not hundreds of products at a time. If I need a hotel for a given city on a given date I can sort by star rating, price, or any number of other factors. This is very helpful when travelling to an unknown city. People then find it is easy to just click the purchase button once they make a choice. They also have it in their head that booking through a "discount travel agent" will actually get them a better rate than they can get on their own.

I will use these sites to compare criteria listed above, then go to the hotel site once I make a decision. In other cases though, I have seen prices on at least one of these sites that was significantly less than you could get if purchasing through the hotel directly. (almost half)
 

Mike

Verified Member
Oct 1, 2014
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#4
My daughter booked a flight to Cancun on Expedia and saved $150 per ticket x 4 or $600. It booked her non-stop down on Amercan and back non-stop on United. When she tried to book them separately she could not touch the price. All she could do was a rt on American for $150 per ticket extra with a stop coming home. With two young children non-stops are nice.

Usually we and she use Expedia or Kayak for pricing and then direct book. But sometimes Expedia can save big bucks. If things go badly it can be a pain but even then it usually isn't.
 
Likes: AMA
Mar 19, 2015
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Expedia have offers where they can give you a discount on the hotel if you book the flights through Expedia as well. Expedia hotel rates are often well below hotel rack rates, depending on the hotel. Expedia Partner Central's booking engine allows hotels to give last minute discounts on rooms that would otherwise remain empty. Hotels prefer bookings through EPC and Agoda and other pre-pay sites because they take the money up front - that way a no-show doesn't mean lost revenue as it is with booking.com or the hotel's own booking system.

For flights, Expedia and other OTAs can provide non-direct flight combinations and routings that aren't available through the airlines themselves.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#8
AMA, I have asked myself this question for years. Mike tells us the savings can be considerable, and an OTA often has packages/flights that aren't available directly. So I am beginning to understand. For $600 in savings, I guess I would take the chance and hope there were no problems. I cannot imagine the angst of having to send a hunded emails and receive a hunded pieces of boilerplate trying to resolve a problem ... even for $600!
 
Likes: AMA

Mike

Verified Member
Oct 1, 2014
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#9
We are a bit jaundiced seeing mostly the bad experiences of others and and lose sight of the thousands of trips with no problems. I rent cars just three or four times a year and always expect to be scammed. So far I never have been. I should buy their overpriced insurance but cannot bring myself to do that.

As for Expedia, where my daughter booked and saved through them, I booked directly with US Airways as there was no savings in my case.
 
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bodega3

Guest
#10
Expedia have offers where they can give you a discount on the hotel if you book the flights through Expedia as well. Expedia hotel rates are often well below hotel rack rates, depending on the hotel. Expedia Partner Central's booking engine allows hotels to give last minute discounts on rooms that would otherwise remain empty. Hotels prefer bookings through EPC and Agoda and other pre-pay sites because they take the money up front - that way a no-show doesn't mean lost revenue as it is with booking.com or the hotel's own booking system.

For flights, Expedia and other OTAs can provide non-direct flight combinations and routings that aren't available through the airlines themselves.
When you book hotels through Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, etc., you get rooms that are least desirable in the room category you chose and you can be walked. You also don't see all the rates you can get. Real TA's have TA only vendors that get you better rooms, for same or less prices and a no walk policy. Real TA's can also do air and hotel packages at a discount. And what is the difference between a Real TA and an OTA....service. And reading the letters on sites like this one, you see where nobody cares until something goes wrong and it seems to be happening a lot with OTA's.
 
Jan 8, 2015
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#11
When you book hotels through Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, etc., you get rooms that are least desirable in the room category you chose and you can be walked. You also don't see all the rates you can get. Real TA's have TA only vendors that get you better rooms, for same or less prices and a no walk policy. Real TA's can also do air and hotel packages at a discount. And what is the difference between a Real TA and an OTA....service. And reading the letters on sites like this one, you see where nobody cares until something goes wrong and it seems to be happening a lot with OTA's.
A few things come to mind as a response. . Travel agents have a bad rap because at one time there were so many of them and they all did the exact same thing the OTA's do now. They gave you the exact same pricing, etc that you would get if you went anywhere else on your own. In many cases it cost more because you had to add the fees to have someone else book whatever else it was that you wanted. (and some agents recommend things not because it is in the traveller's best interest, but because it is in their best interest financialy) People now do not realize the additional services a GOOD agent can provide over and above those of an OTA or DIY bookings.

Also, we do read plenty of complaints on the board about people doing their own legwork after not having their agent be able to, or unwilling to help them.
 
Likes: Mandy_Elaine
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bodega3

Guest
#12
Actually, TA's never have done with OTA's do. THAT is the point.

There is a new posting regarding a rental car booked with Expedia. What I don't get is why anyone would prepay a rental car with an OTA. Rental car prices change daily, so that great rate today may be tomorrows highest priced rate when rates drop.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#13
I kind of agree with the both of you ... if someone has a bad experience with an incompetent TA, they'll be unlikely to use a TA again. So they turn to these lame-brain OTAs and then wonder why they have to sit on hold for 45 minutes to get a simple question answered. How does a traveller know that a real TA is competent and will add value? I think lots of people would pay a TA for expertise, but how are they to know who to chose?
 
Sep 8, 2014
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#14
Talk to your friends or your neighbors. Ask around. See if the agency belongs to ASTA or ARTA, although those are not guarantees of competence. Interview some agents to get a feel for their experience and how their personality might mesh with yours. Do not be afraid to ask for references. When you put all this together you have a pretty good chance of finding an agent who is right for you and will do a good job.
 
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bodega3

Guest
#15
I never advertised. Most of my clients were from referrals, so asking around is what I also recommend. IMHO, you want an agent that knows the GDS. Sadly new agents are eschewing airline tickets, but there is more to air than ticketing.