5 Secrets of Web Travel Sites

1. They know who’s on a Mac and who’s on a PC – and who’s going to spend more.

Last year, US travel research company Orbitz tracked people’s online activities to test out whether Mac users spend more on travel than PC users. Turns out that on average, Mac users lay out US$20-30 more per night on hotels and go for more stars, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a result, online travel sites show these users more expensive travel options first. To avoid inadvertently paying more, sort results by price.

2. Their software doesn’t always hook up to the hotel’s system.

A guaranteed reservation is almost impossible to come by anywhere – but the risk of your flight or hotel being overbooked increases with third-party providers. The middleman’s software isn’t immune to system errors, so always call the hotel or airline to make sure your booking was processed.

3. Don’t be fooled by packages: Often, they’re low-end items grouped together.

Ever notice how travel sites recommend a hotel, a rental car, and tour package all in one click? These deals usually feature travel that no-one wants, like flights with multiple layovers. Check the fine print.

4. You could miss out on loyalty points.

Third party providers can get between you and frequent flyer miles or points. Many hotel loyalty programmes don’t recognise external sites, others award only minimum points and exclude special offers, like double points on hotel stays.

5. Once your trip is purchased, you’re on your own.

An online travel agency can’t provide assistance the same way an agent can if a flight is cancelled or a room is substandard. Basically, when you arrive at the airport or hotel, you’re just another client who booked at the lowest rate.

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