Online Booking Blunders: Disadvantages Of Online Travel Sites

People have been using online travel sites for years in order to book their vacations. They think these sites offer them more amenities and more options than using a traditional travel agent.

While online travel websites are convenient, they’re not perfect. The following are five disadvantages to online travel sites.

1. You can’t receive any live help.
If you have questions about hotels, flights or packages while shopping online, there is nobody there to answer your questions. You will either need to research all of your questions and find your own answers, or you’ll have to simply hope for the best. Even if a travel site does offer the ability to chat with a representative, these individuals can usually only answer tech-related questions, such as if you were having trouble using the site. They’re usually not trained to provide answers on hotels, flights or destinations, so you’ll be on your own to find your answers.

2. You’re limited to your travels.
When you book a trip through an online site, the trips must be simple. This means that you need to use one form of travel and stay in the same place for the duration of your trip. These sites have a hard time trying to plan a trip that requires multiple stays in different hotels in different parts of the world and requires different methods of transportation to get there. If your trip is complicated, a travel website will not help you.

3. You’ll get hit with fees.
Travel websites are sneaky. After you enter in all of your information for your trip, they may come out and give you this phenomenal price for your vacation. But don’t get excited. This price is the price before they tack on surcharges, taxes and special fees for their services. The minute you enter your credit card information into the site, the cost of your trip increases significantly.

4. You can’t add special details.
When you book online, you are stuck using the information they provide and you cannot make any special requests. For example, if you will be traveling with someone in a wheelchair, you cannot make the airline aware of this through the travel site. This can be frustrating when it comes time to board the plane and none of the handicapped seats are available. If you need to make special requests, it’s better to use a travel agent who can ensure that your request gets made.

5. You may be traveling at odd times.
If you receive an email from a travel site that offers you a fantastic deal on a trip, it’s because they are trying to book tickets for a flight that didn’t generate enough interest. This may mean that you’ll be getting on the plane at 2 am and arriving at your destination at 4am, well before you’d be able to check into your hotel. You will need to decide if snatching that great price is worth waking up early (or not even going to sleep) in order to board your flight, and you need to decide if being stuck in a new town without access to your hotel is worth it.

So before you think that Orbitz and Priceline can give you a better deal than a travel agent, think again. Though they may be more convenient, they’re not as great as they seem. They have their pitfalls, and it’s important that you recognize these before planning your trip.

Jacob Smith lives in Dallas and is a travel agent.  He enjoys writing about the best Bahamas hotels in his spare time.  He recently wrote about the benefits of travel agents over travel sites.