5. Evaluation Portals
The cheapest possible accommodation is important, so money is not wasted up before the trip. If you only look at the price, you will be able to question your economy during your holiday – namely, if the hotel does not meet expectations. Evaluations are therefore very important in the choice of hotel rooms. It is also possible to collect guest opinions from around the world in the leisure and travel sector, who can draw the image of a particular hotel. The most widely used portals include:
Despite allegations that hotel reviews have been manipulated, cases of counterfeit hotel reviews have never been seen in a noticeable number.
Behind Tripadvisor stands Trivago and several hotel portals the American tourism group Expedia. In addition to hotels, the website also offers reviews of shops, travel destinations, restaurants and much more.
Registered users can submit ratings for all categories. Depending on the activity of a user and the amount of information (text, images) that he makes available on the website, he will be assigned to one of six ‘contribution levels’. The latter should give information about his interests, his experience and his trustworthiness. Consumer reviews on the Internet should never be taken without hesitation: these are subjective opinions that do not necessarily reflect the actual situation and service of a hotel or a room. Depending on the type (families, couples, age of the guests) or the reason of the night (business trip, relaxation vacation, educational trip) other criteria for the hotel may be important.
Fake reviews are the biggest disadvantages. These are either written to represent a hotel as beneficially as possible, or to give the worst possible impression and harm the hotel. There is even a whole service industry that deals with writing good reviews for the client’s company on behalf of clients, or spreading bad reviews for its direct competitors through a variety of channels. In the meantime, more and more bots are being used, which take over this task fully automatically and spread fake reviews in blogs and portals. The opinions are written anonymously. Critics are not forced to give evidence of allegations, and the entire process of hotel reviews is not traceable in detail. PriceLine and TripAdvisor also publish all ratings from registered users without being able to control them. However, the review portals pay more attention to the formal review of the submitted reviews and remove dubious-looking texts.
All in all, in order to find an offer tailored to his or her own situation, PriceLine and TripAdvisor will display the reviews with additional guest type information: interests, preferences, gender and marital status will tell you if a rating is relevant.
6. Metasearch Engines
Although there are some hotels that exclusively offer only one hotel portal, the majority of hotel rooms are available from all service providers. However, the prices and the services offered may differ in many cases. Experts advise you to compare the price of selected accommodation on several hotel portals in order to obtain the best offer in terms of cost and rooms scope. The so-called metasearch engines are able to take over the part of this work. These are research programs that can be used online and collects the offers from several hotel search engines. Well-known names in this area are:
The search engine Trivago has almost one million hotels in the program. The offers are collected from about 200 booking portals. In 2012, over 60 percent of Trivago’s shares were acquired by online travel agency Expedia which owns two of the largest hotel portals, Expedia.com and Hotels.com.
The owner of the US hotel portal KAYAK is the Priceline Group, which also includes the hotel search sites Booking.com and Agoda. The Priceline Group is one of the major players in the tourism market.
This travel giant is now connected with the hotel search. Although the offer is not yet competitive in all regions with that of the tourism-specialized provider, Travelocity is working ambitiously to expand its position.
The metasearch engines filter out the cheapest hotels among the overall hotel offers of the search engines, whereby a saving of up to 35 per cent is possible. Users are then usually forwarded from the website to the provider, where they can complete the booking. For a customer, the use of metasearch engines is free. The companies make their profit by forwarding customers to the hotel search machines who pay for the brokerage.
Although this system for hotel search is ideal for a user, it is not completely unproblematic: the search is based on an algorithm the search criteria of which cannot be viewed by a customer. The fact all eligible deals and hotels are searched and the cheapest presented cannot be proven and checked with certainty.
To conclude, metasearch engines for hotel browsing can be a useful assistance in comparing the offers of several hotel search engines. Non-transparent search and affiliation of the search engines to the corresponding hotel portals of the tourism companies lead to several portals in their portfolio; nevertheless, leave behind some doubts about the independence of the service. Again, it is worth comparing several hotel providers before booking.
7. Evaluation Functions of the Hotel Search Engines
The presentation of reviews during the search engine comparison of hotel reservation sites is sometimes very different. For example, while many providers such as Booking.com and Expedia allow only the reviews of verified guests who actually book on the portal, Hotel.com also uses TripAdvisor ratings. In order to be able to view these reviews in detail, a customer is sometimes forced to visit the website of TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Trivago and Agoda offer good functions which in addition to the hotel reviews also show more information about the author. The user can thus see, for example, whether a hotel meets the needs of a couple over 50 or whether it enjoys a good reputation among business people. To get an impression when looking for a hotel, the possibilities of the hotel portals are usually sufficient. Moreover, they generally offer the advantage that many hotel search engines display only opinions of guests, although most of them are also not checked for impartiality and accuracy. For many hotel search engines, guests are only allowed to rate the hotel they have booked. In order to get a comprehensive impression of his vacation home, a user should of course also consult the review portals. However, he or she must be aware of the limitations of transparency and objectivity.
Even if it is obvious to book the rental car or the flight also via the hotel portal, it makes more sense, if you choose a specialized comparison portal, because then you save more. For an overview of comparison portals, see car rental comparison and flight comparison websites. Always keep in mind that the hotel portal also wants to earn the extra services – and you pay for it with a higher price. Make a test to determine the best website to book hotels and other services. If you want to book flight and hotel together, then definitely take a look at the offers of travel portals, as these can make cheap package prices.