AN INVESTIGATION has found that booking a hotel directly could be cheaper than using online travel comparison sites.

The consumer watchdog study found that major travel comparison websites aren’t always offering the bargain prices they claim for hotel bookings.

According to the watchdog, of ten UK hotels called directly, eight offered a better deal than the comparison website or offered incentives to book over the phone such as a free breakfast. 

The investigation carried out by Which? Travel found that online travel agents can be up 12 to 25 per cent more expensive due to something called ‘rate parity clauses’, something that can also be enforced in Spain.

A ‘rate parity clause’ is written into contracts between the hotels and online travel agents (OTA) and gives the OTA the best deal while barring hotels from advertising lower rates online.

The OTA is then able to charge a commission of up to 25% for every hotel room booked on their site.

One way to avoid this inflated charge is by contacting the hotel directly by phone or email as the parity clause only applies to the price listed on the hotel website.

As Spain also uses this clause, it could definitely be worth calling a hotel directly when booking a trip.

To get the best rate, use the online booking sites for a quote, then find the direct hotel telephone number and contact them for a better deal.

Calculate 15 to 25 per cent of the online quote as this could be an indicator of the hoteliers flexibility.

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