Skip Discount Sites. Hotels Are Offering Great Perks if You Book Directly

Wyndham Guayaquil - Guayaquil, Ecuador
Photo courtesy of Wyndham Worldwide

Quick! You need to book a hotel for your upcoming weekend getaway. What’s your first stop?

If you’re like many Americans, you immediately hit up popular booking sites like Hotels.com, Priceline or Expedia. It turns out hotels actually hate that.

Why? Hotels can’t afford to miss the tons of business those sites bring in, but their profits drop because of the commissions they pay when people book through these sites. They’d prefer you to book directly through them.

So they just lower their prices, right? Nope. They can’t do that. When they sign on with those companies, they sign rate parity agreements, which limit their ability to lower their room rates.

So how do they fight back? They up their loyalty rewards game. Some hotel chains, like Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, have established successful rewards programs that have improved their direct-booking rates. Marriott rules the roost with a direct booking rate of over 26%.

Wyndham Worldwide Corp., on the other hand, has less than 10% direct booking. Now, it’s fighting back. Wyndham plunked a whopping $100 million into a major revamp of its loyalty program. In short, Wyndham is knocking out blackout dates and making its program more mobile-app friendly. It worked, as U.S. News & World Report ranks it the No.1 hotel loyalty rewards program.

Great, but What’s This Mean For Me?

I’m glad you asked. Hotels are frantically fighting for your business, and that means they want you to book directly with them. As you look at hotel prices, search their websites, and check out their loyalty programs. You can sometimes score discounted rates, free rooms and other cool perks. (You don’t really have to be loyal — you can sign up for any of them and snag the freebies.)

Free rooms? Free perks? Yes, please. Hotel chains are in a battle with online travel agencies, so take advantage. Check out hotel rewards programs as they get more and more aggressive in the fight for your travel dollars.

Their desperation is your savings opportunity. Go get it!

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.