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Compare Travel Insurance Media room Booking site is dead

aussies choose travel agents

31 May, 2019 By Natali Mansberg

The booking site is dead!

Australians are opting for travel agents over booking sites says new research by According to company findings, nearly half (41%) of travellers said they relied on travel agents rather than the web to book their trips. And only 17.3% said they ‘always’ used booking sites when planning a holiday.
Consumers have grown somewhat wary of booking sites and deals that seem ‘too good to be true.’ We’ve seen a surprising resurgence in customers choosing to go through the traditional travel agent model which is interesting in such a tech-savvy world.  

Dodgy deals

A recent series of booking bungles and misleading sales tactics have exposed the darker side of booking sites.
International accommodation site HotelQuickly ruined dozens of holidays by cancelling bookings in the last minute. Affected customers were offered vouchers as compensation which later turned out to be invalid. As well, travel company Bestjet collapsed, leaving dozens of customers furious and out of pocket.
Simultaneously, hotel site Trivago has been under investigation by consumer watchdog ACCC in regard to dodgy advertising tactics. The website’s highlighted, ‘best deal’ options were in actuality based on the suppliers that paid the most to Trivago. The company has since admitted to misleading conduct and may face millions in fines as a result. The ACCC is also cracking down on ‘one room left’ pressure tactics used by third party booking giants and warning consumers not to buy into the trap.
Third party booking sites may seem like an efficient way to land a great bargain. However, travellers should be wary of deceptive practices.

- Research: Take your time to research your options and try to avoid decisions made under pressure.
- Be wary of hidden extras: Travel sites boosting their profit margins by ‘adding on’ extras, such as travel insurance, at checkout. While it may seem like a convenient option, travel insurance that is bolted on at the point of purchase can be far more expensive than those offered through a dedicated insurance comparison site.
- Read the small print: As well, you can't always see the policy details when you check out, so you don't know what you're getting.

Taking the time find a better value product that adequately covers your needs can save you in the long run.

Booking sites busts-will travel insurance cover you?

In the instance that your trip goes belly-up thanks to a booking site issue, can travel insurance help you out? 

At present, a handful of insurers, including InsureandGo, Medibank, Insure4less and Webjet provide some form of cover in the event that your tour operator or airline goes bust.
While most insurers don’t cover insolvency, you will find that some providers do offer some benefit in case of financial default. If your booking site goes bankrupt, you may have some provision to claim from your insurer, but make sure you do your research as such benefits can vary widely.

Learn more about which insurers cover travel service provider insolvency here.

Travel insurance will not cover the cost of a fraudulent online transaction so be vigilant when booking online. If a price looks too good to be true, communicate directly with the hotel or airline to confirm the deal. Always do your due diligence before entering in your credit card details and if something about a website or accommodation listing seems off, trust your gut; a great bargain may cost you far more than you anticipated.
Travellers should seek reimbursement through their credit card company or financial institution and report any wrongdoing to the consumer affairs agency in their state or the ACCC.

Shop around

While they may promise to do so, booking sites won’t always offer you the best rates, nor the best value for money.
A lot of travellers assume that booking sites will always offer you the best price but going through a large aggregator doesn’t always guarantee you the best room or the nicest view.

Phoning the hotel or supplier directly may get you a better deal. By not having to pay the third-party commission, a hotel may offer you a competitive rate with some extra perks thrown in.

Costly cancellations

Another detractor of booking sites are the hefty cancellation fees one must pay, even in the event of an emergency. It’s a lesson Isla Cameron, from Coogee learned the hard way, having paid $2,100 for a ski trip to France using third party travel site MyTrip. When a family emergency forced Cameron to cancel, the site offered her $589 to cancel her trip or $1,000 to reschedule; nearly half the cost of her ticket.

Generally speaking, in the event of a family emergency or death, you may have more power when dealing direct. However, things get a little tricky when going through a third-party site. Websites like MyTrip will often be harder to negotiate with and allow fewer exceptions. If you think there's a chance something could interfere with your trip, always consider travel insurance. It may be an added expense, but worth every penny if you need to cancel.


Contributor Hayley Kennedy

Hayley Kennedy

Originally from the UK, Hayley took a gap ‘year’ in 2011… and it’s still going! She’s travelled all over the world, volunteering in a Ugandan orphanage, skydiving in Australia, shark diving in South Africa, and skiing in the Alps (and snapping in a ligament in the process!). Certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and working in travel insurance for over two years, Hayley is a thrillseeker and a storyteller who loves hearing about customers’ holiday plans and sharing her own tips and must-see spots to help get them inspired.

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