What’s the best way to book a hotel in the Philippines?
The -ber months in the Philippines have begun, and this means that preparations for Christmas holiday are around the corner. This includes your planned visit to the Philippines and scheduled side visits to some popular destinations in the country for your family and relatives to enjoy completing the much anticipated family bonding. There are times however, for varied reasons, we opt not to stay with our relatives in the Philippines but book ourselves in a hotel.
Many hotels and resorts in the Philippines are now accessible online. This makes direct booking with them possible wherever you are based. As for travel booking agencies, plenty new ones open regularly to offer more competitive prices for the budget-conscious traveller. Which way is more beneficial for your family? The following are some advantages of booking hotels direct or via third-party agencies.
Advantages of booking hotels directly
Booking hotel rooms directly in the Philippines can be done by visiting the hotel’s website and choosing from a list the best room that suits you and your family’s needs. Here are other advantages that give direct booking an edge over travel agencies:
No booking fee. Travel agencies offer very low prices for hotel rooms. Some people get hooked by the promise of saving money this way… but forget that agencies will add a service fee on top of the room rate. Booking directly won’t cost you a cent for service fee.
Availability of customer service at all times. A lot of travellers have experienced being bailed out by the travel agencies they used after payment. In addition, customer representatives from these agencies may not be very helpful and even raise your phone bills. This won’t happen when you face reservation problems booked directly through hotels. Hotel personnel will always be there to smooth out problems any time of the day.
Pay by credit only upon check-out. Your credit card number is all it takes to hold your reservation when booking directly through the hotel. A lot of hotels also ring up your credit card only when you’ve checked-out of your hotel. Travel agencies, however, need to be paid up front.
Freebies and perks through mailing lists. A lot of the best deals that hotels offer are available by joining their mailing list. Free nights, lower rates, promo codes and chances to win reward points are just some of these.
No lost reservations. A number of travellers have experienced that frustrating experience of getting to the hotel and finding that they didn’t have a reservation on the list. Some travel agencies have a reputation for this, but booking directly guarantees you will get the room you reserved.
Loyalty programmes. Like the Filipino market vendor’s suki (loyal buyer) buyer who gets discounts off products for her continued patronage, loyal clienteles are also given reward points by hotels. Reward points are a type of hotel currency that can grant you freebies that aren’t offered in travel agencies.
Advantages of booking through travel agencies
Booking via hotels is not always the best choice, especially if you’re looking for the most competitive price or searching a hotel via location. Here are some advantages of booking through an agency:
Better prices. Travel agencies usually have the lowest rates for a hotel room and would charge way less for the same room offered in a hotel’s website. When people book way ahead of time, they may even save money despite the additional service charge.
More hotel choices. Full flexibility in choice of hotel and room is one advantage booking directly with a hotel cannot provide. Agencies will offer a number of choices per location and type or theme of the hotel. If you’re working on a budget, an agency can also help you search for hotels that are within your means. Aside from comparing prices among hotels, agencies can also inform about the amenities and the neighbourhood that hotels have and their edge against others.
Package deals. Travel agencies can book not only your accommodations. They may also offer package deals that include airfare, airport transfers, meals, car hires and tours inclusive of taxes and service charges in one click of a button. This will take off from your shoulders the stress of manually searching and booking these services.
Looking at the advantages of each, the question of which one is better can be answered by knowing your long-term needs. Are you too busy to plan an itinerary on your own? Does money matter to you? Answering yes to these questions mean booking via travel agency is ideal. Do you see yourself visiting the Philippines often? Are you more interested in getting long-term benefits than short-term ones? If yes, then booking directly should be your choice.
Booking is just step one of staying in a hotel for a holiday in the Philippines. But a lot of things can go wrong if you begin your visit wrong. If you want to stay on the safe side, booking directly through hotels may just guarantee a stress-free holiday. But if you’re looking beyond just your accommodations and consider budget a huge factor, be willing to take the risk with agencies. However, check genuine reviews of agencies before trusting your money with them.
Whether you decide to arrange your accommodation with a travel agency or booking directly with the hotel, always check out what previous clients have to say about that company. You can read this to help you distinguish a genuine from fake review.
When visiting the Philippines, do you usually book hotels directly or do you book via travel agencies? Did you have any bad experiences with either way in the past? Which agencies or hotels do you advise fellow kababayans take when they want to book a hotel back home? Leave your thoughts and suggestions below!