Looking to save on your next vacation? Avoid booking sites and go directly to airlines and hotels to get the best deal.
This is the advice of Which?with the consumer watchdog noting that some booking sites 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 booking sites (which allow travelers to search for flights and accommodation and book on the same platform).
Furthermore, he also undertook research to discover the cheapest methods of booking flights and hotels. The results were based on 275 flight bookings and more than 3,000 accommodation bookings.
FLIGHT BOOKING AND COMPARISON SITES
Looking to save on your next vacation? Avoid booking sites and go directly to airlines and hotels to get the best deal. This is 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, fee transparency, and site functionality.
However, the study also found that it was the least likely site to find the cheapest flights for consumers. When which? After checking 10 different flights on nine websites (including four booking sites and five comparison sites) and recording the price quoted for bookings one week, six weeks and six months in advance of the departure date, Expedia never got it right to return the cheapest option.
Which? noted that this may be because Expedia does not offer flights from certain budget airlines, such as Ryanair and Wizz Air.
Meanwhile, Opodo returned the cheapest flights more often than any other site. Which ? watched – 11 times out of 30.
Opodo – the lowest-ranked flight booking site in the survey with a customer score of just 28 per cent – returned the cheapest flights more often than any other site. Which ? look at
Conversely, Opodo received a one-star rating for its customer service and a customer score of just 28%, making it the lowest-ranked flight booking site in the survey. Difficulty reaching customer service agents was a common complaint. One respondent said the site offered “no customer service.”
Previous Which? Research has also found that while some online travel agents (OTAs) such as Opodo can often offer the cheapest overall fare, once extras such as baggage or seat selection are added, the final price s This will often prove much more expensive than booking directly with the airline. .
Booking direct is not only likely to work out cheaper in the long run, but will also let you know where liability lies if something goes wrong, Which? said.
To this end, the consumer advocate considered that comparison sites can be a useful tool for finding the airline offering 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 site functionality – the highest of all comparison sites rated in the survey.
With a customer score of 64%, Google Flights is the best performing flight comparison site.
It found the cheapest flights six times out of 30 – comparable to Kayak and Cheap Flights, which each found the cheapest flights five times.
With no flight comparison site vastly outperforming others in terms of its ability to find the cheapest flight, the Consumer Champion recommends checking at least a few platforms before committing to a booking decision.
However, it’s worth remembering that comparison sites don’t verify the site they refer you to, whether that’s an airline or a booking site.
When which? performed a similar pricing analysis for hotel bookings, there was a clear winner. The Consumer Champion compared the cost of 30 nights at ten hotels on nine different websites and found that booking direct rather than using a booking site offered the cheapest price half the time.
Naomi Leach, deputy editor of Which? Travel, said: “Comparison sites can be a great place to start, scouring the internet to make your decision-making easier. »
However, comparison sites again proved useful, returning the best price, or common best price, on several occasions. Kayak and Trivago most often managed to find the lowest price or joint lowest price on 12 occasions, while Skyscanner followed closely with 11 times.
Hotel booking sites, on the other hand, were more likely to offer the highest prices.
Agoda offered the most expensive price 14 out of 30 times, while Expedia and Booking.com each showed the most expensive prices 13 out of 30 times.
There was also little difference between many booking sites in terms of customer satisfaction. Booking.com received the highest customer score, with a rating of 73 percent, and earned a four-star rating for site functionality and fee transparency, just ahead of Airbnb (71 percent) and Hotels. com (70 percent). hundred).
Calling a hotel directly will often guarantee you the best price or, at the very least, they’ll give you a gift like a bottle of wine or a room upgrade.
Naomi Leach, deputy editor of Which? Journey
Expedia received 67 percent in this category, while Agoda and Vrbo tied for last place, with customer ratings of 66 percent.
Naomi Leach, Deputy editor of which? Journey, said: “Comparison sites can be a great place to start when browsing the internet to make your decision-making easier. We advise you to check several different platforms so that you have the best possible chance of finding the option that suits you.
“Once you have made your selection, book directly. Booking with the airline will usually work out cheaper than using an online travel agent (OTA) and will mean you know exactly who is responsible if anything goes wrong. Calling a hotel directly will often guarantee you the best price or, at the very least, they’ll give you a gift like a bottle of wine or a room upgrade.
An Opodo spokesperson said: “This survey was based on responses from just 44 customers, or 0.0002% 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 to 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 investments in technology and our customer service team, we have helped millions of people experiencing travel disruptions and reduced our average call response time to just 60 seconds, all while expanding the range of options available to consumers. help them reduce costs, make travel more convenient, and discover new destinations and experiences.
“Like all businesses, we get it wrong sometimes, but consumers should be reassured that the overwhelming majority of people who book with us have a positive experience.”