Looking to save on your next vacation? Avoid booking websites and go directly to airlines and hotels to get the best deal.
That is the advice of Which?and the consumer watchdog points out that some booking websites offer poor customer service and rarely, if ever, find the cheapest prices.
Which? surveyed its members about their experiences using both comparison sites (who scour the Internet to find the best prices) and reservation sites (which allow travelers to search for flights and accommodation and book on the same platform).
Furthermore, he also carried out research to discover the cheapest booking methods for both flights and hotels. The results were based on 275 flight reservations and more than 3,000 accommodation reservations.
FLIGHT BOOKING AND COMPARISON SITES
Looking to save on your next vacation? Avoid booking websites and go directly to airlines and hotels to get the best deal. Is that the advice from Which?
Among flight booking sites, Expedia was the highest-scoring platform in the consumer watchdog’s survey, with a customer score of 70 percent. Respondents gave it three stars for value for money, ease of finding flexible rates, transparency of rates, and site functionality.
However, the research also found that it was the site least likely to find consumers the cheapest flights. When which? Checked 10 different flight trips on nine websites (including four booking sites and five comparison sites) and recorded the price displayed for bookings one week, six weeks and six months before the departure date, Expedia did not return the option cheaper on any occasion.
Which? He noted that this may be because Expedia does not offer flights on some budget airlines, such as Ryanair and Wizz Air.
Meanwhile, Opodo showed the cheapest flights more often than any other site. Which? viewed – 11 out of 30 times.
Opodo, the lowest-scoring flight booking site in the survey, with a customer score of just 28 percent, returned the cheapest flights more often than any other site. Which? I look
By contrast, Opodo received a one-star rating for its customer service and a customer score of just 28 percent, making it the lowest-scoring flight booking site in the survey. Difficulty contacting customer service agents was a common complaint. One respondent said the site offers “zero customer service.”
Previous Which one? The research also found that while some online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Opodo, can often offer the cheapest main fare, once extras such as luggage or seat selection are added, the final price to It will often be significantly more expensive than booking directly with the airline. .
Booking direct is not only likely to be cheaper in the long run, but will also let you know who is responsible when something goes wrong, Which? said.
To this end, the consumer champion found that comparison sites can be a useful tool in finding the airline with the best price.
With a customer score of 64 percent, Google Flights was the best-performing flight comparison site, with respondents giving it four stars for functionality, the highest of all the comparison sites rated in the survey.
With a customer score of 64 percent, Google Flights was the best-performing flight comparison site.
It found the cheapest flights six out of 30 times, comparable to Kayak and Cheap Flights, which each found the cheapest flights five times.
Since no flight comparison site far outperforms the others in its ability to find the cheapest flight, the consumer advocate recommends checking at least a couple of platforms before committing to a booking decision.
However, it’s worth remembering that comparison sites don’t vet the site they send you to, whether it’s an airline or a booking site.
When which? conducted a similar pricing analysis for hotel reservations, there was a clear winner. The consumer advocate compared the cost of 30 nights in ten hotels on nine different websites and found that booking directly rather than using a booking site offered the cheapest price half of the time.
Naomi Leach, deputy editor of Which? Travel, said: “Comparison sites can be a great starting point, scouring the internet to make the hard work of making decisions easier for you.”
However, the comparison sites again proved useful and on multiple occasions returned the best price, or the joint best price. Kayak and Trivago were successful most often, finding the lowest price, or joint lowest price, on 12 occasions, while Skyscanner was very close with 11 times.
Hotel booking sites, on the other hand, were more likely to get the highest prices.
Agoda returned the most expensive price 14 out of 30 times, while Expedia and Booking.com each had the most expensive prices 13 out of 30 times.
There also wasn’t much that stood out from many of the booking sites in terms of customer satisfaction. Booking.com received the highest customer score, with a rating of 73 percent, and achieved a four-star rating for both site functionality and rate transparency, slightly edging out Airbnb (71 percent). and Hotels.com (70 percent). penny).
Calling a hotel directly will often guarantee you the best price or at least offer you a free gift like a bottle of wine or a room upgrade.
Naomi Leach, deputy editor of Which? Travel
Expedia received 67 percent in this category, while Agoda and Vrbo tied for last place, with customer scores of 66 percent.
Naomi Leach, Deputy Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Comparison sites can be a great starting point, scouring the internet to make the hard work of making decisions easier for you. We recommend checking out a couple of different platforms so you have the best chance of finding the right option for you.
‘Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, book directly. Booking with the airline is often cheaper than using an online travel agency (OTA) and will let you know exactly who is responsible if something goes wrong. Calling a hotel directly will often guarantee you the best price or at least offer you a free gift like a bottle of wine or a room upgrade.
An Opodo spokesperson said: “This survey was based on responses from just 44 customers, representing 0.0002 per cent of the 20 million travelers who book through our platform each year.” We care passionately about every Opodo customer and are always looking at how we can further improve our customer service, but consumers should also be aware that surveys based on such small samples are neither robust nor representative.
‘We receive feedback from millions of people who book through Opodo every year and nine out of ten tell us they are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive. Since the pandemic, through significant investment in technology and our customer service team, we have supported millions of people who have faced disruption to their travels and reduced our average call response time to just 60 seconds, while expanding the range of options available to consumers to help them keep costs down, make travel more convenient and discover new destinations and experiences.
“Like all companies, we sometimes make mistakes, but consumers should be assured that the vast majority of people who book with us have a positive experience.”