Choose the Best Online Discount Travel Provider
Online travel agent sites are growing in popularity. You can shop and compare 24 hours a day or book last minute travel without having to go to a travel agent.
There are plenty of online sites that promise the best travel deals.
Here's a review of some of the top web based travel sites with an explanation of how they work and why some people love them and others loathe them.
Some are quick and user friendly. Others bog you down or limit your choices.
Online Discount Travel Sites - Expedia
The site includes all taxes and service fees in their quotes.
Expedia will ask you if you are flexible in your travel dates so it can search for better deals
You can narrow your search by price range.
You can also select added features like proximity to golf courses, beachfront, all inclusive packages and availability of kitchenettes.
Expedia appears to have a high customer satisfaction rate.
Major complaints stem from itinerary changes. Many customers feel that service from a live human is substandard and change fees are exorbitant.
Online Travel Discount Sites - Orbitz
Orbitz was originally formed through a collaborative partnership with major U.S. Airlines including Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and eventually American. It has a staff of almost 1500 employees and handles 1.5 million airline searches and 1 million hotel searches every day.
Orbitz offers a free app for smart phones and claims free booking and itinerary change services.
Like Expedia, Orbitz offers the full range of travel services including all inclusive vacations, air, hotels, activities and insurance.
Orbitz is very user friendly and like Expedia has a high rate of customer satisfaction.
Online reviews (complaints) claim Orbitz charges a $6 service charge which does not show up until late in the booking process.
The company does not search fares for all airlines.
Some unhappy clients say Orbitz does not deliver the best deals and has poor customer service.
Online Travel Discount Sites - Travelocity
Travelocity is the world's sixth largest travel agency. It began when American Airlines offered would be passengers access to it's electronic scheduling and booking sites. Passengers were able to check schedules, compare fares and book tickets without going through a travel agent.
Travelocity offers air travel, hotel rooms. cruises, car rentals and packaged vacations.
They advertise heavily with William Schatner as a spokesperson and a gnome as their mascot.
The site is simple to use and offers lots of options.
Some Travelocity clients complain of bad customer service. The say the call centers are located out of North America and many service representatives are not fluent in English.
Others says hotels are not as advertised and it is difficult to get a refund.
Online Travel Sites - Hotwire
Hotwire snaps up unsold hotel rooms, car rentals and airline seats and sells them to online customers. In some cases the product is named, in others "opaque" selling is used. That means, for example if you want to book a hotel room you can specify the city, area, and star rating but you won't know the exact name of the hotel until after you have completed the purchase.
J.D. Power and Associates independent travel web site survey has awarded Hotwire top marks in highest customer satisfaction.
The biggest complaint found in online customer reviews is that Hotwire will not negotiate or refund if you find a better price or are checked into a hotel that does not meet your criteria.
Tips to Booking Cheap Travel Online
Choose a recognized travel agent. The one's listed above are some of the most popular, but there are dozens of others to choose from including Trip.com, Bookit.com, Selloffvacations.com, Escapes.ca, and Lastminutetravel.com.
Talk to your friends and family about their experiences dealing with online travel services.
Before you book a vacation package go to Trip Advisor for reviews from people who have used the travel product.
Most major airlines offer a vacation package service. Compare prices between dealing with the airline directly and using an online travel agent.
Read the terms of service carefully. Make sure you have the number for customer support if you need it.
Print off copies of your receipt, itinerary and insurance. Keep them with you when you travel.
Shop around and compare a number of web based companies for the best deals in cheap travel.