Book Smart: How to Win on Hotel Reservations

In his new National Geographic book, Traveler editor at large Christopher Elliott outlines How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.

Here is Elliott’s take on the myriad ways to reserve a room:

> Direct:

If you call directly or reserve from its website, a hotel may offer a low-price guarantee, extra points, or better terms on the room, such as free cancellations. On the other hand, there’s no intermediary to advocate for you if something goes wrong.

> Opaque:

Websites such as Priceline and Hotwire often offer the steepest discounts on hotel rooms, but you sacrifice loyalty points and, in some cases, the ability to choose the exact property or location. Reservations are often nonrefundable. Though the hotel will never admit it, you may get its worst room.

> Agencies:

Expedia, Orbitz, and similar websites buy rooms at a discount, then resell them at a marked-up rate that is still significantly below the sticker price. In other words, rates may not be the lowest available, but there’s support if something goes awry. Terms vary; read the fine print.

Christopher Elliott is Traveler magazine’s consumer advocate and pens the “Problem Solved” column for the magazine. Follow Christopher’s story on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

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