Is it common sense at this point? Cause it should be. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the more middlemen you go through, the more expensive a rate is. Everyone’s got to get their cut out of it.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Sometimes it’s cheaper to go through a third-party like Priceline or HotelTonight when you aren’t obviously going to be getting anything cheaper. However, this tends to hold a lot truer if you’re booking at a standard hotel chain. For more independent businesses like guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and hostels, it’s often much better to go completely direct. If you’re going to book directly with the airline, why not with the hotel as well?
To take a look at how this works, let’s take a brief look at the hostel industry. Without a doubt, HostelBookers and Hostelworld are the biggest hostel-booking engines worldwide. Though there is some selection that varies between the two, they often overlap and, more often than not, a property can be found on both sites.
HostelBookers usually has the cheapest rates but all transactions get processed in Europe so you might be risk at being charged a foreign transaction fee if you use the wrong credit card. On the other hand, Hostelworld does not incur foreign transaction fees and doesn't charge booking fees—which used to be a flat $2 for each transaction—but their rates are usually slightly higher.
To compare how a listing on one of these sites compares to the actual rack rate, we decided to take a look at what it cost to book a bunk in a 6-bed female dorm at La Maison du Patriote in Montreal, Canada. We looked at the cost for one night during June 16 and June 17. This property was unavailable for booking on HostelBookers. Just like booking on a foreign airline carrier’s home website will always yield the cheapest price, paying in the local currency—and cutting out the middleman—always yields the cheapest rates. This principle translates well across the board among multiple categories.
The cost on Hostelworld came down to $23.14 USD per night. Curious, I searched to see the cost of the same booking for La Maison du Patriote in CAD directly on their website. The cost was $24 CAD which equates to $22.09 USD per night at the exchange rate that was valid when we researched this. While the difference isn’t significant, I’ve always been of the mindset that these things add up over time. The rack price that a guesthouse will quote will usually be less than what can be found online — this is especially true of foreign accommodation.
Now you know.