Please sign in to post.

Booking 3rd Party vs Direct?

A friend and I are planning a trip to Paris in September/October. I've generally been looking on hotels.com at packages (flight+hotel) and I'm finding decent enough prices. One deal I found is a roundtrip, nonstop flight and 6 nights in a 4 star hotel for $3100, that includes both of us. Then when I go to the hotel website and the airline website and look at prices through them directly, it comes out to almost $1300 more. I don't really travel at all, this is a huge trip for me, and I just don't understand how hotels.com could be so much cheaper. I would rather book through the hotel and airline directly, just so I'm dealing directly with them should anything go wrong. But if hotels.com is so much cheaper, should I go with that? As I said I don't really travel so I've never used a 3rd party site. Are they ok for booking flights as well? Any advice is appreciated

Posted by
27450 posts

It will be easier for people to provide useful comments if you give us specifics:

  • Travel dates
  • Origin airport
  • Name of hotel

I don't stay in 4-star hotels, so I don't have a good feel for why you're seeing such a discrepancy. It would give me pause, too. On the other hand, $3100 for airfare for two people and a double room for 6 nights doesn't seem unreasonably cheap for late September.

Posted by
4 posts

I've been playing around with the dates, but the last 2 weeks of September and the first 2 weeks of October, on hotels.com the prices are generally the same within that area. Sometimes the airline will change but it's generally United.

Posted by
23473 posts

Sometimes packages can be substantially cheaper. So I would not be afraid of them. Travelzoo (one of my favorites) has outstanding deals from time to time. A year ago May we have package that included RT air from NY to Rome, 10 nights of hotels, a couple of meals, and a car rental for $1700. I was watching a domestic flight on United for this summer - two hour flight and it was hanging around the $400, 450 mark. Then suddenly last week the same flight showed up on Orbitz for $199. Checked with United and it was still $400 so I booked it through Orbitz. Last night just booked a two night stay in Oct on South Miami Beach in a five star hotel for less than $200/night including, supposedly, a $50 breakfast. Direct hotel price was $475. Our flight leaves Miami two days later. In Paris last fall, again via TravelZoo, got a four star hotel including breakfast and afternoon tea for about 150E. It was one block off Champs-Elysees near the Arch.

I generally prefer to book directly also but sometimes going direct is not always the cheapest.

Posted by
27450 posts

Frank's example is more what I would consider a really good deal.

But I still don't know your origin, and that can have a massive effect on airfare.

Edited to add: And the hotel matters, too. One thing to be careful about with packages is the location of the hotel. There are perfectly lovely hotels in locations that are less than ideal for the typical tourist (as opposed to business travelers, for example).

Posted by
15724 posts

A few things to consider....

--are the room type being offered the same as the one you are searching for? Make sure it specifically states the room type. A "standard" room could be anything

--have you gone to the airline's website and seen what kind of package deals they are offering? Don't just go to the airline's website for airfare, look for airfare and hotel combined. You can sometimes get a very good deal.

Posted by
4 posts

The airport I'm leaving from is San Francisco International

I have looked at packages through the airline. Most are still a lot more expensive than the 3rd party sites, and the 3rd party packages that I've found offer nicer hotels

Posted by
226 posts

I do Trans Atlantic Cruises and book the airfare separate look on Hotels.Com for Hotels or Air Bnb/VRBO for vacation rentals. You can often find AirBnB/VRBO apartments cheaper than hotel rooms. Just look at the reviews. If you want 4 star hotels sometimes its best to book it after booking your airfare.

I have used Hotwirte and got really nice 4 star hotels in Barcelona to Rome. You need to figure out what the best price is for you.

I do like renting 2 bedroom apartments as they are larger than a hotel room and offer a kitchen. Just make sure its private as opposed to shared as you will have more flexibility. Sometimes parking is included or you pay less than parking at a hotel.

You can book on Norwegian Air, WOW Air, Iceland Air then book your 4 star hotel and save money or AirBnb. Sometimes packages add a premium depending on what you are looking for. If you book the airfare earlier and hotel at a later date you may save $$$$.

Good luck.

Posted by
27450 posts

I just took a look at Google Flights, and the best non-stop price I see in September for SFO-CDG is $1475 per person. There are some days in October that are about $100-$150 cheaper.

That package deal does sound good if you must buy something now and travel at that time. There might be some cost-cutting as we get into summer, but there are no guarantees.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks so much for taking the time to check yourself. That $1400 a person would be $2800 for the flight alone. The original package deal I came across from hotels.com was only $3100 for flight and hotel. That's why I am really skeptical about it but that money saving would make a huge difference for me. I'm thinking maybe I will try and wait until summer and hopefully some of the direct costs will go down

Posted by
1265 posts

Anm11x

It may be more comforting to book direct, but many times third party bookings can be cheaper. Think about it, if you book direct, you are just one person. The third party companies can get a huge group discount and get better deals by bundling.

When we went to Italy two years ago, we booked our flights via Expedia which combined Alaska Air and British Air for a shorter flight and lower price. I could not get the same combo by going to the direct airline sites. Even my travel agent friend could not match; he told me to grab the airfare because it was a good deal.

When i booked a Mediterranean cruise, the Norwegian site was the most expensive. The third party Cheapcruises.com was a bit cheaper. The best price was from a local cruise travel agent. The bookings were for all the same suite on the same cruise ship and date. The cruise agent was able to combined our booking with another large group and got us a huge discount. The agent also got us additional freebies like on-board credit and a premium dinner package.

Booking a hotel via Hotels.com or Bookings.com can save you a lot over booking direct. But keep in mind that you lose your right to cancel the reservation. You have to figure what is more important to you, saving bucks or having the flexibility to cancel.

Last week, i rented a car for the Big Island Hawaii. The cheapest rate was through AutoEurope which gave me a voucher for Budget Rent-a-Car. When i tried to book Budget online direct, it was forty percent higher. I spoke with the AE agent and he told me that AE gets a huge discount. When i picked up the car the Budget agent told me the same thing.

We booked an all-inclusive in Cuba via Sunwings. (Yeah, they have food, sanitation and water issues, but those are different matters, and we did not have any problems and had an enjoyable trip). From a price point of view, there is no way you can book flights and hotels separately without paying almost double. Everything is packaged for the lowest pricing.

The point is you are doing the right thing by doing your research and comparison shopping. And you should not be surprised if a third party service is cheaper. I would check to see if the third party has a decent rep, namely has been in business for a decent amount of time. But keep in mind that you will always find that there are complainers for any travel service. Also note that if the deal or price difference is substantial, it may sell out if you wait too long. There are only limited seats and limited rooms available.

Posted by
23473 posts

Then don't come back later this fall complaining about the price. I don't know who the package is through but if you are saying you can get the flight and six night for $1550 and the hotel is in a decent location, I would grab it. It is easy enough to double checking. I will guarantee you that airline fare will not drop substantially for this fall. If you expect something cheaper, probably not going to happen. Put it on a credit card so you would have some protection against fraud.

Posted by
1103 posts

You could probably fly from SFO to Paris on Aer Lingus for $1,000 - $1,100 with a change in Dublin. Aer Lingus allows you to go through US custom/immigration in Dublin on the way home.