Published on: March 24, 2020

Booking Direct vs. Booking with an Online Travel Agent

By Chris Jarvis, Mirror Lake Inn Director of Rooms

Lake Placid – We’ve all seen, and maybe even enjoyed a laugh at the colorful “Booking.Yeah” and “Captain Obvious” ads smattered all over the television and internet these days. Giving credit where and when it’s due, the OTA’s do an excellent job of training travelers to visit and ultimately book via their websites. How do they do this…? Well, by whispering “sweet nothings” such as “guaranteed lowest rate” into your ear, that’s how. By giving you the illusion that you are somehow getting one up on the hotel, and somehow enjoying perks that others will not. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. In fact, it’s often the opposite that’s true.

For example, the OTA websites don’t tell you that for many hotels (including the Mirror Lake Inn) you will often find complete rate parity with the OTAs. In fact, if you contact the hotel directly, you may find that the hotel offers more inexpensive room types vs. those being offered by the OTA website, or they may have an exclusive offer or promotional rate available that isn’t bookable via the OTA website.

They don’t tell you that hotels are forced (some might say “held hostage”) to pay anywhere from 18% – 35% commissions on OTA reservations in order to remain visible on their websites. Hotels are therefore usually very willing to offer an incentive to book directly with them. This means an opportunity for you to save!

They don’t tell you that nobody working at the OTA call center has any firsthand knowledge of the property your booking. So…. unless the question you’re asking them is listed on their “cheat sheet”, they’re probably guessing as to the answer. When you call the Mirror Lake Inn directly to make a reservation, rest assured that you will speak with someone who is literally inside the hotel at the time of your call. They have extensive first-hand knowledge of the property in general, as well as of individual guest rooms. They live and play locally and are poised to give you the best possible advice to enhance your experience. Whether it’s current weather info, the latest ski conditions at Whiteface Mountain or hiking conditions in the Adirondacks, your reservationist is on-site and can provide capable assistance and first-hand knowledge. The OTA folks probably won’t know about our complimentary tea, coffee and homemade chocolate chip cookies served every afternoon from 3:30-4:30, but our reservationist certainly will. Ask your kids if that’s important to them… I bet it is.

They don’t tell you that if you book with an OTA, you can’t simply call the hotel to alter your dates of stay, room type etc. Oh no, instead you will need to make any and all changes through the OTA website, or with someone at one of their call centers. Unfortunately, the hotel’s hands are somewhat tied because the OTA will still bill the hotel the commission based on your original booking.

They don’t tell you that when hotels have the availability and/or the need to upgrade someone, they much prefer to upgrade/reward those guests who have booked directly with the hotel.

So after understanding all of this, the moral of the story is: if there’s no difference in price between the hotel and the OTA, wouldn’t you rather deal directly with the property and get the personal service and the one-on-one care that you deserve?

If you prefer online service, just use your laptop or electronic device and log on to Mirror Lake Inn for our booking engine, room photos, descriptions, hotel amenities and activities.

Photo courtesy Joseph Rector