Rules of the Road When Using Online Reservation Services

Jul. 1, 2017 | by Jim Beazley

TripAdvisor,, Expedia, and are internet services, called Online Travel Agents (OTAs) which have revolutionized the lodging industry.

They can show you what a place looks like, exactly where it is, what fellow travelers have experienced and even book your room. But they may not be telling you all you need to know.

They are a powerful tool, but like any “power tool” you need to know how to use it or you could be sorry.

Rules of the Road for Online Reservation Services

Just like your “Uncle Buck”, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

For example, if you want to REALLY know what a given B&B, Inn or Hotel has available for a popular weekend or holiday, CALL that property yourself! Inns won’t offer their rooms to these services when they can sell ‘em themselves! But the services will tell you “no rooms available!”

“Lowest Rate Available”

What they really mean is “lowest rate you’ll find on our service.” Again, CALL the B&B, Inn or hotel.

The lodging properties have to pay the booking services a commission of 10 to 20% for each night booked. If you call the inn yourself they probably will sell you the room at the “published price” directly. Or maybe they’ll offer to upgrade you to the next best room. They MAY have a promotion they are running which might be even better!

Last words about TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor’s rankings for Inns or B&Bs in a given location are not what you might think. Learn what TripAdvisor is REALLY BASED ON. In a very competitive market like the Napa Valley, there can be 15 inns with a 97% guest approval rating. How does TripAdvisor handle the rankings? It could be number of reviews. Maybe it’s the number of “Excellent” reviews. No one knows.

But what’s MUCH more important than the rankings are the reviews themselves. They are the honest (sometimes painfully) opinions of fellow travelers. This is pure gold when making the decision between two otherwise equally, seemingly, great places. Interested in a couple of inns, read your fellow traveler’s reviews. Look at the inn’s WEBSITE for details missing on TripAdvisor or other online sites. Check with the innkeepers and you’ll be surprised how much more you can find out to make your decision to book.

TripAdvisor’s great for guest reviews, and pictures, but booking, not so much!

Instead of hooking up directly with the inn of your choice TripAdvisor sends you through Expedia, or Travelocity or Orbitz. And if you book with THEM you are locked into the room you choose. This is especially true if you’re making a last minute booking. These are generally Non-REFUNDABLE. It’s something like dealing with the airlines. Loved one dies? Tough! Got the flu? Suck it up! Plans changed? Pay up! Unhappy with your room upon check in? Your innkeeper will be helpless to move you to another. Not because they are being mean, but because they no longer have ANY control of that booking (read room) you made through your “online travel agent Expedia”.

...I loved their hospitality, and the breakfasts were amazing! - Lori M., Highland, IL

Late check in, special dietary needs. Don’t count on Expedia to help!

Late check in, special dietary needs. Don’t count on Expedia to help!

Late check in, special dietary needs. Don’t count on Expedia to help!

When you make a last minute booking with Expedia, Travelocity or your innkeeper will have very little information about you and your special needs. In the past the Beazley House received Expedia bookings with NO way to contact the arriving guests. If a guest were needing a late check in, we didn’t hear about it. If they had special food allergies, good luck because we hadn’t been informed. For a while, we didn’t even get cell phone numbers nor an email address to contact guests. So be proactive: CONTACT the inn yourself just to make sure your needs will be met. At Beazley House we happily cater to your special dietary or mobility needs, or requests for special occasions.

Traveling with your child or dog? Don’t assume they will be welcomed!

While the Beazley House can host your child, we only have ONE room which can accommodate you. Better read the fine print from your Expedia, or room description. Is it the SPRING ROSE Room (our only room with two beds)? If not, we can’t host your family. Just because the Beazley House is “Dog Friendly” doesn’t mean you can just show up with your pooch without telling us! We have specific rooms and rules about hosting pets. If you book directly with most inns, they, like we, will send you all you need to know about the rules for hosting your dog. And, we like to be sure your dog feels welcome and comfortable upon arrival!

Traveling with your child or dog? Don’t assume they will be welcomed!

Traveling with your child or dog? Don’t assume they will be welcomed!

Returning guest? Book direct and you’ll be SURE of a PROPER WELCOME!

The Beazley House, like 99% of all professional inns, has room availability clearly showing on our website. You can book from our calendar 24/7. When you do, you will be rest assured your booking will receive a confirmation within no more than 24 hours, usually less. You’ll also receive a follow-up query about your dietary needs, ETA, if we can help with touring or dining requests and a direct phone number to contact us with any questions.

Want to call and book with us “in person” by phone?

We are happy to hear from you during business hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. Much of the time your information will be at our fingertips and the process can be done in nearly the same amount of time you’d spend booking online. Remember, you’re OUR guests and we can’t wait to host you again.

The Beazley House has plenty of rooms to choose from that will fit your desires. Review our Rooms Page and call us directly for savings up to $30 per night through August 2017.