When booking accommodation, you have the option to book hotels direct or to use a third-party website like Expedia or Booking.com. If you book directly with the hotel, you can earn points and status with the hotel’s loyalty program. But you won’t receive any hotel benefits if you book with a third party. So, is there any benefit in booking hotels through a third-party website?
An AFF member recently discovered that they may not be getting such a good deal by booking with Qantas Hotels. egeaher calculated that they would be able to earn a free hotel night much quicker by booking direct with the hotel and accruing Hilton Honors or Starwood Preferred Guest points, instead of Qantas points.
I have only recently discovered that all my stays (HH and SPG), that I have been booking through Qantas website, did not accrued any hotel points at all. Basically, those stays weren’t counted as a stay.
I had a brief look and it looks to me as it absolutely not worth it. With SPG, if I’ll book direct, it would take approximately [16-17] nights of stay to receive a free night. With Qantas points it’s about 60 nights (at best).
If you’re loyal to a particular hotel chain, it almost always makes sense to book hotels direct. You’ll earn points for each stay and you’ll even gain elite status if you stay enough nights per year.
I always book direct with the hotel where necessary for the points and benefits. Weighed up against the cost, of course. It might be that QF hotels has a super special deal!
It’s possible that you might find a better nightly rate with a third-party such as Qantas Hotels. In this case, it could make sense to forgo the hotel points and status benefits. But it’s also worth checking if the hotel has a “best rate guarantee”. For example, Accor will beat any price you find elsewhere by 10% – and you’ll still receive all your Accor Le Club benefits by booking direct. Even if the hotel does not have a published guarantee, it can still be worth calling the hotel and asking if they’ll match the competitor’s rate. The hotel would have to pay a large commission to the third-party website if you book there. So it’s also in the hotel’s interests for you to book direct.
Even then, there may still be some benefits to booking hotels with an online travel agent. You can earn frequent flyer points by booking with Qantas Hotels and other websites like Agoda PointsMAX or Rocketmiles. If you plan to ultimately use the points to book flights – not hotels – then earning frequent flyer points might be better value after all.
In your example, if your only goal is to convert paid hotel nights into free hotel nights, then you are probably best sticking with the hotel for direct bookings, but if you’re saving for an F or J RTW trip on points (or some other special premium cabin trip), you may get more bang for your buck if you booked through Qantas or any other third-party during a bonus point promotion.
The best strategy depends how you want to redeem your points. Hotel bookings are generally a very poor use of airline frequent flyer points. But award flights and upgrades can be very good value.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Booking Hotels through Qantas Site