Booking Direct vs. Using an OTA

Booking your lodging is one of the most important parts of planning a trip. The accommodations provided can either make or break your vacation.

There are lots of options for booking a place to stay. However, not all booking options offer the same benefits. Many travelers end up using an OTA (Online Travel Agency). However, booking direct offers more benefits to travelers. In the sections below, you’ll learn about the differences between using an OTA and booking direct, along with some key benefits of booking direct.

What is Booking Direct?

Booking direct is when customers reserve housing directly through the business where they plan to say. They can make a reservation in person, over the phone, or on the business’ website.

When you book direct, you aren’t using a third-party reservation site to ensure your travel plans. By talking directly to the hotel or resort, you’re able to secure housing for the best possible price.

What is an OTA?

An OTA is an online travel agency. These services include sites like VRBO,, Hotline, Expedia, Airbnb and more. Because these sites charge both the guest and the hotel, guests end up paying more for their stay.

These sites often advertise their low prices. However, they cannot all have the “lowest price.” Their restrictive policies mean you cannot change or cancel your plans. If your flight is delayed or you have a personal emergency, using an OTA may cost you more in the long run.

5 Reasons Why You Should Book Direct

Booking direct is the best way to book your stay for an upcoming vacation. Below are five reasons why you should book direct.

1. You can get a better price.

Sites like VRBO, and Airbnb charge both the guest and host. Because the hotel ends up paying more in fees, the customer ends up paying more when they use these services.

Although OTA sites advertise low prices, you’re more likely to get the lowest price by booking directly with the hotel, resort, or cabin.

2. Your reservation won’t get lost.

Sometimes your reservation gets lost when you book with an OTA. If you’ve ever arrived at your hotel only to discover they don’t have your reservation, you know just how frustrating that can be.

When you use a third-party site, the hotel cannot take steps to remedy the situation. You can only get a refund through the OTA, which means your hotel’s staff is unable to make accommodations to fix a booking error.

In the rare case a direct booking reservation is lost, the hotel or resort can take steps to properly remedy the situation. If they’re completely booked, they may take steps to help you get settled in another nearby hotel. This makes booking direct a common sense option to provide you with peace of mind.

3. Your personal information will be handed out to fewer businesses.

When you book direct, your personal information is held by the hotel and no one else. If you use an OTA, the OTA takes your information and passes it along to your hotel. Booking direct means fewer issues with privacy. Because hotels take steps to ensure the safety of your personal information, you’re at lowered risk for fraud.

4. You can get more flexible terms and conditions.

OTA sites don’t allow refunds for delayed or canceled trips, as most of them have a no-refund policy. If your flight is late or you have to cancel your vacation, you may be out all the money you spent on housing through an OTA.

The truth is, delays and cancellations happen more than we’d care to admit. Hotels and resorts will often work with visitors who booked direct, ensuring that their housing arrangements are worked out around these delays.

If they don’t provide a refund, they are often willing to trade your cancelled reservation for credit toward a future stay.

5. You’ll get better rooms and better service when you book direct.

Hotels often prioritize the special requests of guests who book direct. Whether you want a higher floor or an extra bed, booking direct allows you to inform hotel staff about your needs before you arrive.

When you book direct, the lines of communication are already open. This makes it easy for you to ask hotel staff about accommodations. Hotel staff can clearly communicate information about included accommodations, provided services, and nearby activities. Third-party sites often have missing or incorrect information, making them an unreliable source of travel information.


As you plan your next vacation, consider booking directly with the hotel, resort, or cabin where you plan to stay. Hotel staff members can give you a better price and better service. Because you can change or cancel your plans with booking direct, you’ll have peace of mind when facing delays.

Although many OTA sites boast about their low prices and convenience, booking direct is cheaper and more convenient.

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