It seems like every day there is a new travel company touting themselves as the end all be all of search engines. Claiming that they have the very best deals and that you wont find a better deal anywhere else! Come on do you really think we believe this? Its like your used car salesman telling you that the price he gave you is a one time offer and that he is losing his shirt by selling it to you so cheap. The truth is that these search engines make money by booking sales through there widgets, banners or search boxes. Then they take a cut from the hotels, airlines, and car rental companies. Its their job to get you to buy travel from them and them only. Most of the time there is a “booking fee” that is tagged onto the final cost of the purchase.
Now im not saying that you should all together stop using your favorite travel portal to buy travel products. They are very useful in finding the best deals however you need to understand that there are added fees tacked on at the end. As long as you know this then you are a better informed consumer and ultimately will find the best deal.
This is how I search for travel these days. I usually start with my new favorite search engine “Kayak”. This cool engine pulls over 150 sites including Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline and more. Its pretty awesome to see this engine work. I will get into the core features of this engine a bit later. After I run a search on Kayak I then move on to the other big three, Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity. I do like Hotwire for car deals and Cheapoair for air fares. Hotwire has some incredible deals on cars. I searched the other day and found a rental for 5 days at a total of 60 dollars! One other point to make is that Travelocity and sites like BookingBuddy.com Subscribe All you have to do is tell them where you want to go and at what price and they will email you when a deal pops up. This isnt as easy as it sounds though, most of the time the deals are off peak and very limited.
Ok so you found the best deal now what? Do you book through the travel portal or direct to the hotel or airline? Book straight with the hotel, car or airline company. Why? Because you wont pay that “booking fee” and will almost always get the best deal dealing straight with the merchant. Here is another reason why you should book direct, I have heard horror stories of travelers left out in the cold because the third party company they used lost their reservation or screwed up their itinerary. Also companies like dealing direct with their customers. Its easier for them to manage your reservation and they dont have to pay commissions to travel companies.
Now a little more about Kayak. The engine is one of the most powerful and user friendly search engines I have used to date. What I like about the engine is that it has an option to query sites in separate browsers. You can actually see what the leading portal sites are quoting at the same time. Another feature I like is that you can choose alternate dates for lower fares by just clicking on the date. I know travelocity and other sites offer this but Kayak makes it easy and quick. Just a few reminders about companies not included in the search. Southwest airlines is not part of their search. Just so you know Southwest does not participate in any search engine. I guess they feel they are better than everyone else. No one can really blame them though, they usually offer some of the most competitive rates in the industry.
visit Traveldealspotter.com for more info and deals.