By Claire Freeland, Director, Powder White Ltd

The recent explosion of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) has taken the travel world by storm and opened up a world of easy-to-book accommodation at the click of a button. But are they as trustworthy & secure as we think? Or are the cracks starting to appear?

The Darker Side of OTAs & Booking Engines

When organising a recent City Break, I used a well-known booking engine to find the perfect hotel for a 2-night weekend break away. After much research and filtering my specific needs, I came across what I believed to be the obvious choice. Excitedly I pressed the book button, paid my money and received the online confirmation. We were on our way!

How wrong I was… On arriving at our destination, we handed over the confirmation to be told there was no booking. Moreover we could have never had one due to the Hotel’s 3-night minimum stay policy. I have to admit to feeling rather stupid and responsible for the fact we had been duped and we now had nowhere to stay.

My “booking” was not a booking after all. In fact, it was only a confirmation from the Online Travel Agent, not the Hotel itself. Despite my assumption the site was linked to the hotel’s direct reservation system, it was not.

It turns out this is not an isolated case. It is happening to a huge number of customers who continue to trust these big boy booking engines. Some have reported their reservations being cancelled within 24 hours of arrival despite booking ages before, others have encountered a similar experience to us. This is nothing new and in my view, its bad commercial practice and certainly pretty unfair. OTA’s may seem easy & efficient but they can be untrustworthy and they don’t provide the service or security we need.

How can we protect ourselves from this happening?

  1. Invest time, do research and look further afield.
  2. While booking engines may be popular, we mustn’t assume they are the best.
  3. They may have a big name but do they provide the reassurance we need?
  4. Check the small print – 100% refund guarantee doesn’t always mean what we think it means!
  5. Double check accommodation policies. These will often override the OTA policy.
  6. Let’s not presume they provide the best booking rate – they very often don’t!
  7. Be aware of unsecure websites – there are unscrupulous people out there and fake websites are unfortunately very real.

So who should you book with?

Perhaps its time to once again trust the independent ski specialists. With our Best Price Guarantee and personal approach to great customer service, we’ll help get you on your way at the best available price. And with our cutting edge technology linking directly into our valued suppliers’ reservation systems, regardless of whether you book a Ski Hotel, Apartment or Chalet, you will get the holiday you book!

Why not check out our huge range of accommodation options at www.powderwhite.com and we’ll be happy to find the perfect holiday for you. Look forward to welcoming you back to the mountains soon,

All the best,

Claire Freeland, Director, and all the Team at Powder White

PS. The snow’s falling!