I’m searching through several travel sites to find the best deal. I find what I want and make the reservation. Three weeks later I need to make a change but I can’t find the confirmation and I can’t remember who I booked with. Was it the aggregator (maybe Expedia) or the direct supplier (maybe  Delta)? If this sounds familiar, then you’re one of many who experience this and similar challenges.  When searching and booking travel, it’s important to understand who you’re booking with, document the booking and understand the possible restrictions associated with that booking.

Points to consider

Who are you giving payment information to?

Are they reputable? What’s their return policy? What’s their change policy? Are you comfortable giving them your credit card number? Is their site secure? Do you need to create an account?

Who is holding the reservation?

You may have booked with Expedia, but Delta may be the one holding your reservation. Or you may have booked with Expedia and Expedia IS the one holding your reservation. It’s important to know exactly who the reservation is with so you can retrieve it or contact that supplier if you need to cancel or change plans.

Who do you pay a change fee to?

If you’re changing plans, a change fee may be required. If so, who is this fee paid to? To Kayak, the aggregator, or to Southwest, the airline?

Is the room guaranteed?

It’s nice to have the security of a guaranteed room, but is it really guaranteed? What happens when you show up to check-in but the hotel doesn’t have your reservation? Was the room guaranteed with the aggregator like Expedia or was it guaranteed directly with the supplier like Hilton?

Is the room type guaranteed?

Some aggregators like Expedia lead you to believe your room type is secured, but their site says they’ve ‘passed’ your room type request along to the hotel. When booking directly with the hotel, your room type is more easily secured and if the hotel has none available, they’re more likely to upgrade you to a better room – all because they take a personal interest in keeping guests happy!

Is it a rental scam?

For private rentals like Airbnb, VRBO and some private rentals now offered by aggregators, be sure to understand who holds your pre-paid deposit. What happens if you arrive but that private rental is actually an occupied private family home? Do you go back to Airbnb to recoup losses or to the aggregator you booked through? One thing IS for sure, the person who posed as the Airbnb owner won’t be giving your deposit back! This Review of Airbnb Horror Stories is an informative read.

Can you book and pay for airplane seat preferences?

Aggregators vs airlines – who can guarantee your seat location? For flights, typically aggregators will not guarantee a specific seat type (a row or aisle seat). If you must have an aisle seat, then it’s best to book directly with the airline. They will handle your request and likely charge a fee to hold the seat type you requested. When booking via an aggregator, you often can’t pre-pay for a seat well in advance, as the airlines want to collect that fee themselves.

Who am I accumulating points with?

Best price and point accumulation are likely the two driving factors in selecting your hotel, airline, car rental or cruise. Be sure that you’re accumulating loyalty points with who you think you are. For instance, with Expedia you accumulate Expedia points, but does that mean you forego your hotel or airline points? In a perfect world, it’s optimal to double dip by accumulating points from both the aggregator and the direct supplier. Just make certain you’re doing that.

How do I book through Opptee Travel Search?

Using Opptee, once you have uncovered the best deal then complete the booking process through the site that you’ve chosen, just as you would if you were reserving using a browser.

Reservations and payment are made directly with the site that you’ve chosen, not with Opptee.  If you have existing reward accounts (such as Expedia, United Air, Hilton) you can use points to book or you may continue to accumulate your reward points.

Buyer beware

Before pressing that Reserve button it’s essential to confirm the details of your pending booking. Be sure to read the fine print on the aggregator site. Make sure you know who holds your payment, who to go to for changes, who holds your reservation guarantee, hotel room type, cabin choice or seat type. AND most important, take a screen capture of your reservation before closing out of your booking page!

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