According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, American travelers make approximately 15 million fake hotel bookings a year on rogue sites.
In fact, the group estimates that $1.3 billion is lost every year due to booking scams. So not only are we being totally misled, but we’re losing money in the process.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and get the best deal the next time you book a hotel room.
1. Book directly with the hotel
Fifty-six percent of Americans say they prefer dealing directly with the hotel … and we can’t say that we blame them. This means booking on the hotel’s actual website, or calling the hotel and making the reservation on the phone. It might take some extra time, but it’s the best way to protect yourself.
2. Pick the right sites
Don’t always click the first search result. It might be a paid ad. (Photo: American Hotel and Lodging Association)
Every year 250 million hotel bookings are made online, and for good reason … it’s so easy! But you have to choose wisely.
If you’re booking directly with the hotel, don’t assume the first search result belongs to it. Often, it’s a paid ad from a third-party site designed to look like the hotel’s site, and that could lead to complications.
3. Read the fine print
One of the biggest hotel scams is adding in extra fees at booking. If you book through a third-party site, take the time to read the fine print we usually skip over. Look for vaguely labeled hyperlinks and odd charges that don’t make sense.
4. Make sure you get your points
Not all third-party sites allow you to earn rewards points. Call ahead and check before you book. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Fifteen percent of people surveyed by the American Hotel and Lodging Association complained that they didn’t get their rewards points after booking a hotel online. If the site you’re planning to book with isn’t affiliated with the hotel, chances are your points won’t be honored. Before you press Confirm, you might want to call ahead.
5. Get a good room
Those who book through the hotel’s website tend to be loyalty members and usually get first dibs on room assignments. This makes them more likely to get rooms with better views and quieter locations compared with those who book through a third-party site. Joining loyalty programs is usually free, so sign up … and get the room you deserve.
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