How COVID changed the way I travel….

The pandemic proved to be the turning point for so many people who book via a third party. Many people lost out on thousands of dollars when these smaller third party companies crumbled when all travel was halted. I’ve talked about the times third-party booking didn’t work out for me in a previous post. Through years of experience, I have learned it pays to be loyal to brands when traveling. I’m particularly drawn to Hyatt, Hilton, Jetblue and anywhere I can transfer my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card points to. When COVID shut down travel, the travel economy crumbled. The larger brands would most certainly make it through, but those small bed and breakfasts, tour companies, and restaurants took it hard. Dave Portnoy, from Barstool Sports, created the Barstool Fund about a year ago. This fund was to help small business get back on their feet after struggling to get through COVID shutdowns. I watched almost every video as he personally called each and every person that was awarded this grant. Their stories were heartbreaking and they were so appreciative to be able to keep their small family businesses open and be able to pay their employees. The Barstool Fund Before the pandemic, when I would book smaller hotels and B&B’s via third-party websites, it wouldn’t be uncommon at check in to hear “You could have received a better rate by booking direct” and I would just brush it off because it was just easier to hop on and reserve. One of my favorite perks of doing that is that you don’t have to pay until you get to the hotel, and you can cancel up to 24 hours before travel dates. Now, after seeing how hard hit the travel industry is, and remembering all the amazing hospitality I have received from small family owned establishments, I am always going to think twice before hopping on for booking. Property owners sign on to be advertised on third party sites. The fees for commissions is often times 25-35%. The reason the booking is cheaper on a third-party site is because the property is making up the difference. This may seem fine and dandy for massive hotel chains. but its the smaller establishments that get hurt. I stayed at a small B&B in Inverness, Scotland(which I did book direct!) where there was one woman running the show. She cooked an amazing breakfast, checked people in and out, and did the majority of the cleaning. Knowing that she would have to take a loss on a typical room rate because it was easier and $10 cheaper really makes you think twice. Her dedication to hospitality was appreciated These establishments won’t be able to survive if the third parties get more action and the commission rates keep increasing.

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