With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are booking much-anticipated trips to spend time with loved ones far away…or just to get away during the holiday break with the family. Being cautious when booking holiday travel is important, just as it is any other time of the year. There are many 3rd-party websites for making hotel reservations and other travel plans that seem like they offer great deals and savings, but in reality, these shady companies are out to line their pockets at the expense of your vacation. So how do you make sure that you’re booking with a reputable site? Here are some tips for booking holiday travel that will help you get the best deal without getting scammed.
Tips for Booking Holiday Travel
Check the policies of the site you are using to learn about cancellation or change policies and procedures. Less reputable sites may make this information difficult to find because of unscrupulous practices that are against the terms of the actual hotel chain.
To save money, use hotel loyalty programs. With these programs, you can collect points for free stays and special rates for booking holiday travel. It is important to book on the actual hotel website in order to receive your points for the transaction and get all of the perks that you are entitled to as a member.
Use a reputable travel agent to manage your bookings for you. A great travel agent will work to get you the best deal possible and do whatever they can to help protect your travel plans. Many times, they can even offer a better deal than some of the popular online booking sites.
If you want to handle booking hotel reservations on your own, use the hotel’s website to ensure a safe transaction and that your reservation is legitimate. You can always be confident when booking your holiday travel directly with the hotel.
How to Spot a Travel Scam
Be on the lookout for sites that are not secure. Your browser should display a padlock by the URL of the site and it should begin with “https” in the address. Any sites without these features are not secure and you should never enter payment information or personal details.
Often, 3rd-party sites will include the name of the hotel chain or location in their URL, making people believe that they are booking directly with the site. Dig a little deeper than the URL and ensure that you are, in fact, booking through the actual site of the hotel chain.
Most hotel chains do not require you to pay in full for your reservation when booking. Be wary of sites that charge your card prior to check in.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association is working to get the Stop Online Booking Scams Act passed by Congress. This bill aims to protect consumers from devious marketers through increased transparency and regulation of the online travel industry. In the meantime, it is our job as consumers to stay informed and be on guard to avoid online scams when booking holiday travel.