According to consumer champion Which? holidaymakers are usually better off booking direct with a travel provider instead and avoiding booking sites when arranging a holiday.
Which? surveyed nearly 5,000 members about their experiences with various travel booking sites with the results highlighting a range of problems with using booking sites, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Respondents rated sites on a variety of criteria, including the functionality of the site, prices, and transparency of fees, with many sites earning an overall lower score than they did last year.
Flight booking sites fared particularly badly, with some companies proving impossible to contact regarding cancellations and refunds, and some charging admin fees to process refunds that would have been free if sought directly from the airline.
Which?’s advice for anyone looking to book a holiday is to book a package holiday with a trusted tour operator, or if that’s not suitable, book directly with the airline or hotel rather than through a booking site.
Which? said that, ‘with a few exceptions, you are more likely to get better customer service, better refund options if your travel plans are cancelled, and better prices if you go straight to the travel or accommodation provider’.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “Booking sites have been seen as a hassle-free way to find the best deal on travel or accommodation when booking a holiday, but our survey highlights serious problems, from dodgy refund policies and unwelcome admin fees, to non-existent customer service.
“This year has shown us that nothing can be guaranteed when it comes to booking a holiday, so it’s more important than ever to ensure the company you’re booking with can be trusted with your money.
“With a couple of notable exceptions, booking sites have let their customers down on this front, so the best way to ensure your money is in safe hands is to book a package, hotel or flight directly, and only with a reputable provider.”