Online travel companies (OTAs) are often viewed as the Everything Store for travel. They offer great convenience for travelers by providing car rental, hotel, and flight bookings in one place.
They also help you redeem your rewards points and miles. Plus, they’re less likely to play price games with you as airlines and hotels do.
Whether you’re rushing to book an important business trip or your friends have decided to get together for a spontaneous girls’ weekend in Las Vegas, last-minute travel doesn’t have to be stressful. With expert tips and the right tools, you can nab some fantastic deals and jet off on a vacation that looks (at least on Instagram) like you spent months planning it.
Many online travel companies offer weekly blasts with limited-time deals catered to the last-minute traveler. Signing up for their email lists allows you to watch for these deals in advance, which is also an excellent way to stay up-to-date on any last-minute sales that may pop up.
In addition to these weekly blasts, many travel websites allow you to search for specific dates and destinations to see if any deals are available. For example, a quick search for “Paris” yielded top-rated hotels from $54 per night, plus airfare, for travel dates two weeks out.
Another option is to book a complete vacation package, which often yields the best price. Sites like Expedia make finding great last-minute trip deals accessible by bundling hotel, car, and flight costs into one convenient bundle. Plus, booking this way can sometimes result in extra perks such as complimentary breakfast or hotel upgrades, which you need help negotiating.
There are many ways to save money on travel, from using points and miles accrued through credit card spending to taking advantage of last-minute deals. One way to do it is by booking your trip through an online travel company. Frequent travelers may know that these companies can sometimes offer discounts not directly available from airlines or hotels.
A significant benefit of online travel agencies is that they can often negotiate bundled packages that include flights, hotels, and activities at an affordable price. They can also access discounted hotel rooms and airfares only during the off-season.
Those who book their travel online can take advantage of these perks by comparing prices and choosing the best option. Another way to save is by being flexible with dates. Typically, flying on Tuesday or Wednesday is less expensive than flying on weekends, and avoiding peak travel times like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve will also help you score better deals.
Finally, you can always ask your friends for recommendations. They may have a trusted travel agent they work with and can recommend them to you. This can be especially helpful if your friends are familiar with the destinations you want to visit. In addition, they can provide you with some tips on how to get the best deal.
One of the most significant benefits of using online travel agencies is convenience. Whether a weekend getaway to Toronto or a two-week excursion to Central America, these companies can offer you the perfect trip at a competitive price. Online travel agency (OTA) customers can find everything from flights and hotels to short-term rentals, cars, and vacation packages in one place.
In addition, OTAs often have direct relationships with suppliers like airlines and hotels, allowing them to negotiate better rates for their customers. You wouldn’t have access to that if you booked directly.
Finally, if you’re a rewards-focused traveler, online travel agencies can make it easier to earn points and cashback. That’s because many card issuers partner with OTAs to give their customers access to special deals and promotions that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to use.
Online travel agencies are more than order-takers; the best ones know they need to adapt to stay relevant and competitive. They’re improving their customer service departments and providing travelers with the best possible value. They’re also expanding their services to include a concierge, which can help you plan and book your trip. And they’re incorporating technology to increase the speed and efficiency of processing your bookings.
Imagine sipping a pina colada on a beach in the Caribbean 48 hours after booking your trip. That’s the allure of last-minute travel deals. But before you book, check the small print and hidden catches. You don’t want to be disappointed with a dream vacation come true!
Online travel companies are less likely to play these games than airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies that often quote a low price and then tack on taxes and fees that must be listed up front. This doesn’t mean they don’t charge fees — but they are upfront about them and transparent about what you’re getting for your money.
Many online travel companies have dedicated sections of their websites to last-minute deals. For example, some offers thoroughly planned trips that combine hotel stays with airfare and other components for a lower cost than buying individual items separately. Other options frequently feature secret deals, such as round-trip flights to the Bahamas for $302 this weekend, and some offer short-term rentals.
Also, check with the hotels you’re interested in for their specials, especially during non-peak seasons or on weekends when business travelers are absent. And if you’re a member of a hotel chain’s loyalty program, consider leveraging it to snag discounted or free rooms.