Book Now for the Best Deals! Book Direct
Online travel agencies (OTA’s) seem to have a corner on the market for lodging accommodations worldwide. At first glance, it seems reasonable to refer to one clearinghouse that lists many different lodging options from hotels to cabins to Bed & Breakfasts to tree houses. Reasonable until you get lost in finding one with actual availability and buried in a million pop-ups after each online search, I mean. Often our OTA guests don’t even know who placed their reservation, nor do they know how to change or cancel it, or if it’s even allowed. Guests who book direct at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast in Jacksonville, Illinois can cut out the middleman.
Before you rely on OTA’s you need to be aware of the pitfalls.
Who can give you the best deal on staying at my Bed & Breakfast? I can! If you’re using an online travel agency to book a suite at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast, I’m paying to give you that option. I’m paying through an annual fee or through a percentage or each reservation booked, but I’m paying!
Recent guests spent time perusing our Blessings on State website after booking through a well-known OTA. When they checked in, they mentioned the discount they noticed they would have qualified for had they booked directly through our web site. Unfortunately, I was being charged a comparable percentage to give them the opportunity to book through the OTA and therefore could not also fund the same discount for them. If they’d have booked direct, they could have applied it directly to their reservation. Even if they had missed it when making their direct reservation and just asked at check-in, I would have gladly extended the discount because it’s part of my marketing plan. We just can’t double dip.
I’m pretty sure I’ve agreed that I will not, shall not, under any circumstances, ask as many times as you’d like, never ever divulge the percentage I pay to list on the major online travel websites. I will tell you, however, that I would have been very comfortable extending my regular discount to my guests to trade off paying the OTA. Happily, gladly! It’s not just what’s in it for you, it’s what’s in it for all of us.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
What’s the OTA customer service number, anyway? What if you’re in a fix and need to change dates on your reservation? What happens if you’d like to request early arrival or if you have a concern regarding late arrival? Innkeepers are just a phone call away, as are most hotel front desks. You call the inn directly and have immediate attention to your concern. Unfortunately, it’s often a challenge to find customer service numbers for online travel agencies and even more challenging to get a quick and direct answer to your inquiry. It’s almost like they really don’t seem to want to talk to you. In addition, they have no power over some things and can only refer you to the local hotel for special accommodations or details about your lodging arrangements or location. Save time and trouble by calling the inn directly.
What do you mean you don’t know?
You don’t know what restaurants are available in the neighborhood? You don’t know what the weather’s going to be? You can’t tell me the best restaurants in town? If you’re not speaking with an innkeeper or hotelier directly, it’s likely that the person you called won’t have in-depth information about a property that you need to really plan a great stay. It’s impossible to list all the finer details when I’m limited to 200 words in online travel descriptions of Blessings on State. I have so much more to tell you! That information is shared on our website, along with a “button” on each page to check our availability and rates and book direct.
Book direct and you’ll have all the contact information you need when you need it. Online travel agencies add a third-party layer that is more likely to result in miscommunication and misinformation.
Why is it So Important to Book Direct?
What’s in it for me, the traveler? As noted earlier, booking direct opens up promotions and discounts that are only available through the direct connection with the Bed & Breakfast or hotel. Many hotels offer guest loyalty points that are lost when booking through an online travel agency. Some of us offer special room upgrades when our guests have booked with us directly. A hotel may offer points programs and other incentives like access to their executive level. Wi-Fi and soft drinks and snacks are complimentary at Blessings on State, and hotels sometimes provide complimentary bottled water to their guests who’ve booked directly through their web sites.
What’s in it for me, the innkeeper? I prefer the personal contact with my guests. Whether you book by phone or online, when you book direct, I have all the information I need to send you follow up Emails. Whether I’m sending a welcome letter with restaurant recommendations or texting with last minute weather warnings, we develop a personal connection right away with guests who book direct that online travel agencies cannot provide.
What do you mean someone else is already in my room?
Some OTA’s rely on Email notification to ensure that properties enter reservations in their own reservation system. That always worries me. What if I believe I’ve made my OTA reservation and it’s really on a 24-hour hold until they hear from the hotel? When I make travel arrangements, I typically book air, hotel and car rental at the same time. One component is often hinged on another. I don’t want to live in Wonder-land until I know for sure that I have a reservation.
Real-time reservation systems such as the ones we use at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast eliminate the risk. Booking directly through our website or speaking with us directly protects your reservation and immediately backs it up with a reservation confirmation. Whether you book online or I enter your reservation, if there’s a race the first one with a completed reservation confirmation wins. Automatic. Real-time. There should be no concern that there’s a lapse in the time a reservation system scans to pick up a reservation from an OTA.
There’s a Charge for What?
Beware of hidden and not-so-hidden charges. Although some online travel agencies / cabin clearinghouses are straightforward in charging fees only to the innkeeper or hotel side, others are not so. My buddy was looking for lodging in Hawaii and found several options that seemed very reasonable when she looked at the lodging rate. That was before she added the housekeeping charge. And the resort fee. And the cancellation fee, the credit card fee, the safe fee, the bottled water fee, fees, etc. In addition, the price often turns out to be a range of prices when the room you priced is not available, but the next tier (or the next tier!) is. When you see our price posted on our web site and in our reservation system that’s price you’ll pay for your suite. We are all required to collect lodging taxes, but the only upcharges are specialty items/ packages that you choose to add.
Book ‘Em Traveler!
Our reasons to travel vary. Some of us travel regularly for business. Others need a quick get away now and them. Some invest in lengthy vacations to distant destinations.
There are many reasons for guests to Book Direct at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast in Jacksonville, Illinois:
- Book Direct to get the best rates. Most of us are careful to make sure that you can always get the best price when you reserve your room with us directly.
- Book Direct to get to know your accommodations in advance of your stay. Spend time on our websites to get to know us. We want to welcome you to Jacksonville and will do all we can to help you enjoy your stay.
- Book Direct to have easier access to your hosts. Our phone numbers are listed on our web site and on Email communications we send out. Call us if you have a question or a special need.
- Book Direct get the best deals. We want your business and would prefer to see our funds go to enhancing your stay rather than to padding the pockets of the OTA’s. Our specials and packages are not typically available on the OTA listings.
Visit our website at www.BlessingsOnState.com and look at all our pictures and packages and things to do in Jacksonville, Illinois, then Book Direct!