PSA: The dirty little secret of online travel sites

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 25, 2011 11:06 PM GMT
    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/11/23/online-travel-mistakes/?iid=SF_F_River

    It's the dirty little secret in the world of the online travel agencies. No matter how you make your reservation, you always run a tiny risk of arriving at your hotel and finding it overbooked -- just like an airline may not have that seat it promised. But there's an additional risk when you use a third-party provider like Expedia or Travelocity or a range of other companies. If its software doesn't properly hook up to the hotel's electronic booking system, you don't have the room the site claims you reserved.

    [...] The lesson here is not to have blind faith in technology. If you use third-party reservation systems -- and millions do -- it never hurts to check directly with the hotel you booked. Especially if it's on the night of a big snowstorm.
  • turtleneckjoc...

    Posts: 4685

    Nov 26, 2011 3:33 AM GMT
    I work for one of the aforementioned "third party providers," and I have to question those claims.

    My company (a wholesale tour operator) has a limited number or a block of rooms at the hotels we offer in vacation packages. I view the availability in my office as "live inventory" whereas someone booking on a website does not have that capability because the numbers can change so quickly.

    Also, if you book a vacation package (air and hotel let's say). If you call the hotel to confirm your reservation, the property is going to send you back to the wholesaler anyway. It shows in their system that you booked it through a third party or in my case, a wholesaler.

    When you book a vacation package through one of the business units I represent, everything is confirmed at the time I reserve it, or if you book it on one of our websites, meaning there is no need to call everyone in creation to confirm a reservation.
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    Nov 26, 2011 3:36 AM GMT
    I once booked a hotel room using lastminute.com. Turned up to the hotel and they had no record of me. But I had the transaction details and the confirmation email, showed them, and they found a room for me.
  • turtleneckjoc...

    Posts: 4685

    Nov 26, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
    dash_8 saidI once booked a hotel room using lastminute.com. Turned up to the hotel and they had no record of me. But I had the transaction details and the confirmation email, showed them, and they found a room for me.


    I have not heard of that website and I'm kinda not surprised you had an issue at check in. My suggestion is to stick with the major players in booking online travel.

    Like the screen name too. Would that be like Dehavilland Dash 8 by chance? My favorite aircraft!!
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    Nov 26, 2011 3:58 AM GMT
    turtleneckjock said
    dash_8 saidI once booked a hotel room using lastminute.com. Turned up to the hotel and they had no record of me. But I had the transaction details and the confirmation email, showed them, and they found a room for me.


    I have not heard of that website and I'm kinda not surprised you had an issue at check in. My suggestion is to stick with the major players in booking online travel.



    It's big in the UK/Europe and Australia. I booked a hotel from the UK for Brussels. I turned up to the hotel and they didn't have the confirmation but, as I said, they found me a room because I had proof I had booked it. No problem at all.
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    Nov 26, 2011 4:01 AM GMT
    Yeah, I had problems a couple of times with those. Arrived once and the hotel had no reservation. They did squeeze us in, but we lost a day's deposit somewhere.

    Another time, the travel site charged my credit card, then the hotel charged it again. Both parties claimed that they had no record of the other charge. For the price I paid (double the advertised rate) I could have stayed someplace nice.
  • turtleneckjoc...

    Posts: 4685

    Nov 26, 2011 4:08 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidYeah, I had problems a couple of times with those. Arrived once and the hotel had no reservation. They did squeeze us in, but we lost a day's deposit somewhere.

    Another time, the travel site charged my credit card, then the hotel charged it again. Both parties claimed that they had no record of the other charge. For the price I paid (double the advertised rate) I could have stayed someplace nice.


    Not trying to hog the thread here, but performing a public service when I see issues......You had a prepaid booking for the hotel and they charged you again. Did you mention this to the company/agency/wholesaler that booked the prepaid reserveration? If they are a good company, they should have notified the hotel then and there that it is a prepaid booking. Hopefully the clueless hotel refunded your money.
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    Nov 26, 2011 4:22 AM GMT
    I've gotten confirmation directly from airlines and from hotels that this is a common industry practice. They overbook in anticipation of inevitable cancellations, but when they don't have enough cancellations, they scramble to accommodate people.
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    Nov 26, 2011 4:23 AM GMT
    turtleneckjock said
    mindgarden saidYeah, I had problems a couple of times with those. Arrived once and the hotel had no reservation. They did squeeze us in, but we lost a day's deposit somewhere.

    Another time, the travel site charged my credit card, then the hotel charged it again. Both parties claimed that they had no record of the other charge. For the price I paid (double the advertised rate) I could have stayed someplace nice.


    Not trying to hog the thread here, but performing a public service when I see issues......You had a prepaid booking for the hotel and they charged you again. Did you mention this to the company/agency/wholesaler that booked the prepaid reserveration? If they are a good company, they should have notified the hotel then and there that it is a prepaid booking. Hopefully the clueless hotel refunded your money.


    Actually that system of the number of blocked rooms can fail on the part of the third party site. I worked at a hilton property in downtown chicago (never working at a hotel ever again wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy). One day we had about 10 parties show up with their conformation numbers from Orbitz or Expedia but it never showed up in our system. The blocked rooms are determined by the hotel reservation manager and set, somehow the third party system made reservations sent conformation numbers but was NOT taking away from the blocked rooms at the hotel. Bad timing as most of the city was sold out, as it was not our fault (coming from the fact that multiple properties in the city were having the same problems therefore it was not one hotel's fault but the third party's site, they had to find new reservations.

    Yes any booking made through a third party must be canceled or changed through them, the hotel cannot touch these bookings as they are looked at as pre-paid, as the guest already PAID the third party. The hotel will not charge again what was booked by the third party site. Infact I can't modify in anyway a third party reservation only the ones made BY the hotel or the brands' OWN central reservations. The credit card that will show up on our system is either the company's (Expedia) credit card or a direct bill, the guests information is not sent over.

    The "clueless" hotel CANNOT refund the money from the third party, the third party has to because we don't have the guest's cc information so how could we refund? Sorry but third party sites are greedy and take money without thinking, anything done directly with the hotel can be refunded changed or modified easily. I refunded stays on a weekly basis therefore I know what I can and cannot do with the third party sites. Blame them as clueless not the hotel.
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    Nov 26, 2011 4:29 AM GMT
    riddler78 saidhttp://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/11/23/online-travel-mistakes/?iid=SF_F_River

    It's the dirty little secret in the world of the online travel agencies. No matter how you make your reservation, you always run a tiny risk of arriving at your hotel and finding it overbooked -- just like an airline may not have that seat it promised. But there's an additional risk when you use a third-party provider like Expedia or Travelocity or a range of other companies. If its software doesn't properly hook up to the hotel's electronic booking system, you don't have the room the site claims you reserved.

    [...] The lesson here is not to have blind faith in technology. If you use third-party reservation systems -- and millions do -- it never hurts to check directly with the hotel you booked. Especially if it's on the night of a big snowstorm.


    Dirty little secret about hotels, even if you book directly with the hotel, they can and will overbook by a certain number of rooms. My hotel would only overbook by 4 to 5 rooms, many hotels will overbook by 20! The hotel does this to create sold out nights and bring in the most revenue as there are TONS of cancellations, most of the time the hotel will not be oversold however it happens, more often they will oversell room types and change your reservation to an accessible room or from a king to a double bed room etc.

    It's a crappy system and I don't believe in it as the times when we were oversold we had a ton of people walk into the hotel wanting rooms that we could have sold as well instead of overbooking. The hotel however MUST find a room at another hotel and pay for it and you can return the next day if you have a multiple night stay or if you can stay at the new hotel they will cancel your remaining reservation. The poor front desk people also get all the blame and are called the nastiest things to something they can't control (managers fault), there's a reason I will never work in the hotel industry ever again. PS even if you call to confirm your reservation and say you will be late, the people that get walked the most when oversold are the people that check in last. Again horrible system and I quit for that reason among other reasons haha.
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    Dec 01, 2011 5:35 AM GMT
    That's why I avoid extremely popular cities. Knock on wood, I've only once had a hotel oversold. But the switched me to the place across the street.

    To me, online travel sites are way better than booking thru the hotel.
  • johndubuque

    Posts: 319

    Dec 01, 2011 5:55 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidYeah, I had problems a couple of times with those. Arrived once and the hotel had no reservation. They did squeeze us in, but we lost a day's deposit somewhere.

    Another time, the travel site charged my credit card, then the hotel charged it again. Both parties claimed that they had no record of the other charge. For the price I paid (double the advertised rate) I could have stayed someplace nice.


    I've faced the issue twice. The first time, I didn't realize it until I got the credit card bill; I called the credit card company and they were able to correct it, but it was a hassle, waiting on hold as you always have to do.

    The second time I made a reservation through Travelocity, and when I got to the hotel they had my reservation, but no record of it coming through Travelocity, and they insisted on taking my credit card info to charge me again. I was prepared to get double-charged again, but when I got the bill the hotel never charged me. Apparently they realized their mistake after I left.

    The lesson is check everything. Everyone makes mistakes.