Booking your Ubud accommodation…what’s best Direct, Online Agent or Travel Agent ?
An often asked question in chat groups is how best to book Bali accommodation. We also get asked from Bisma Cottages guests why we are not listed on Online Travel Agent’s (Booking.com, Expedia and Agoda)
So, its time to share the pros and cons for booking with an OTA, Travel Agent and Direct.
OTA – Use templates and do not allow hotels to write their own descriptions. This is so they can use key words for search optimization. This means the best or unique features of the property are often not highlighted.
Travel Agent – will have recent info and photos as is provided by hotel. Often description is limited due to space so you are getting a summarized description.
Hotel – Will always have most up to date info and photos from hotel on website and particularly social media.
Note: Google take photos from other websites and mix them …not date order from most recent to older.
Location – A recent study says location is the first factor people look for when searching for a hotel. OTA, Agents and Hotel do all rely on 3rd party maps eg. Google. Whilst these apps give a good general location, they are not always 100% accurate in Bali (apple maps is definitely not reliable in Bali yet. So when arranging transport to your accommodation it is recommended to use a driver that works for the hotel or is from the area. The last problem you want, particularly after a long flight is not being able to find your accommodation.
Price – OTA and Agents cannot offer unique packages, inclusions, benefits or services as they have set rate structures, policies and procedures.
Examples that are not promoted via OTA’s or Agents.
- Bisma Cottages offers specialized packages that include tailored tours, experiences and other inclusions for solo travelers, adventurers, and families.
- Bisma Cottages offers Free Floating Breakfast for minimum 3 night stays.
- Bisma Cottages provides yoga mats in all rooms.
- Monthly (or longer) special rates.
OTA – A strategy by some OTA’s is offering a low price as click bait and then adding tax.
Travel Agent – Most promote complete packages. Airfares, airport transport, accommodation, and other inclusions. Always inclusive of tax.
Hotel – Hotel will offer wider range of rates and packages as mentioned above. Bisma Cottages quotes tax inclusive, it has never been our policy to add tax after quoting a room rate. If a cheaper price is available via an OTA or Agent usually the hotel will price match or even offer cheaper.
OTA – definitely finalized quickly including payment. Beware many OTAs link to each other so the booking may not always be via the OTA you thought. Also consider affiliate sites, booking.com is strongly into recruiting companies and influencers with high number of followers to link to their site in return for a commission.
Travel Agent – speed and ease of booking process will vary agent to agent depending on how automated they are. Big benefit is that you have a human to speak with for any questions and if things go wrong.
Hotel – some hotels will be reliant on online booking systems and in this case booking and payment is via hotel website. Questions would need to be emailed or sent via Whats App. Bisma Cottages stopped using a booking system in 2020. Bookings can now be made via email, social media messenger, google or what app. Direct messaging is considered to be the way of the future as consumers want questions answered quickly. This suits perfectly with Bisma Cottages as we aim to provide a more personalized service compared to larger Ubud hotels.
OTA – Offer many payment options via safe and convenient payment gateways.
Travel Agent – this will vary depending on country but most agents seem to be preferring credit cards and so do customers so they can get frequent flyer points.
Hotel – will probably be more limited with payment options which is not by choice. This is why many small properties are compelled to use a OTA. Many banks and credit card companies nowadays just don’t want to deal with small business. Big hotels definitely take credit cards, many will accept transfer an all will be happy to take cash 😊 Most properties will take at least two different forms of payment.
Cancellation and Refunds – Due to the corona virus travellers have learnt some very important lessons in this area when canceling or delaying their holiday.
OTA – only have one set of cancellation and amendment policies which is chosen by the customer at time of booking.
Travel Agent – Are bound by the terms and conditions in their contracts with airlines and hotels. Since agent rates are generally low, cancellation penalties are usually 100%. Due to COVID19 most airlines and hotels did allow credits.
Hotel – whilst we can speak for all hotels most in Ubud we know during to COVID either refunded or gave the full amount as a credit to be used within a specific time. Bisma Cottages gave guest two years to use any monies paid in full.
Note: Using your travel insurance is the best way to get monies refunded if cancellation is beyond your control. Travel Insurance will cover no matter the booking source.
OTA – The customer cannot contact the hotel direct and vice versa. OTAs are all about growing their own database and maintaining marketshare.
Travel Agent – it is very difficult to agents to have knowledge of every Bali hotel. Some may try and push you toward hotels they feel comfortable selling or get a better deal. We recommend to book with a travel agent has recently travelled to Bali.
Hotel – The hotel knows their property better than anyone so it is definitely better to book direct if you have special requests. Hotels will also upgrade customers who booked direct before those who have booked with an agent. If you are a returning guest definitely book direct as the hotel should have you recorded as a guest. If not make sure they know about it !!
OTA – good for searching and doing research. Find a few hotels you like and then contact direct.
Travel Agent – if you want a package with flights, transfer and loads of value adds book with a travel agent.
Hotel – Direct is always best for communication, price and service. Most hotels respond to Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs and of course email. Whats App is the most widely used direct messaging service in Bali. Look out for phone contact numbers +62 8xxx and this will also be used for whats app. Unless the rate is a super deal hotels are happy with deposit and balance paid at check in. So save your money until arriving in Bali.
Bali was closed for international tourism for 2 years. Domestic tourism was promoted during 2021. During this time no assistance or consideration was given by OTAs. Properties were advised to offer bigger discounts to attract bookings. The commission combined with tax and minimum discounts is now 39%.
Being a boutique property at Bisma Cottages we want to give the best most personalized service for our guests from start to finish (and beyond ) During 2022 it has been a pleasure to help and get to know our guests prior to arrival. We have been able to presend valuable info about money, transport, healers, wellness etc. For these reasons plus many others there is no going back !!
Any questions ? Contact Us
Whats App +62 812-3896-0803
*The blog is the opinion of the author and is for information purposes to educate readers about accommodation booking services.