In this article we cover:
- What are travel sites?
- Online travel agencies
- Metasearch engines
- Review and information platforms
- Do travel sites offer the best deals?
What are travel sites?
Travel sites are websites that provide a range of travel-related services, plus information, for travellers. Travel sites can help people to plan and book their holidays easily and can often save them money.
We have broken travel sites into three main categories:
1. Online travel agencies
These websites allow users to search and book flights, hotels, hire cars and vacation packages. Bookings are generally made through the travel agency themselves. Examples include Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com and Wotif.
2. Metasearch engines
Metasearch engines compare prices and information from various travel websites, making it easier for users to compare options. Typically users are redirected to another website to book their accommodation/flights/etc. Examples include Kayak and Trivago.
3. Review and information platforms
These sites provide user-generated reviews and ratings about accommodation, restaurants, attractions and more. For example, Tripadvisor.
Online travel agencies
Founded in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com has grown into one of the worlds’ premier travel sites. Offering more than 28 million accommodation listings, including over 6.6 million homes and apartments, Booking.com has plenty of options for wherever you want to go.
Booking.com offers more than just accommodation. Book flights, car rentals, airport taxis and nearby attractions all from the comfort and convenience of your couch.
And with Booking.com’s loyalty program, Genius, users can earn perks over time. Customers earn points by staying at participating properties and earn points, progressing from level one to level three with the more points they earn. Benefits include discounts, free breakfasts and complimentary room upgrades. You can find more information about Booking.com’s loyalty programme here.
Expedia is owned by American travel company Expedia Group, who also owns Hotels.com, Vrbo, Travelocity, Wotif and Trivago (among others). Offering access to over three million properties in over 70 countries, plus airlines, cruise lines and car rentals, Expedia has all your travel needs conveniently in one place.
Expedia often offers bundled vacation packages that combine flights and accommodation (and sometimes other services like car rentals), which can be cheaper than booking each option individually.
Like many travel sites, Expedia has its own loyalty program, called Expedia Rewards. Expedia Rewards is free to join and has three tiers: blue, silver and gold. The more you travel, the more rewards you earn. And as you reach new membership tiers, you’ll unlock new perks. You can find more information about Expedia’s loyalty program here.
Hotels.com is part of the Expedia group. It offers booking services through its own network of localised websites. Similar to Booking.com, Hotels.com offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts. Users can access user-generated reviews and ratings for each property, helping customers make the best choice.
Hotels.com also has a loyalty program called Hotels.com Rewards. When users book 10 nights accommodation, they earn an additional nights stay. The reward program has three levels: purple, silver and gold. Each level has its own perks, which improve as users progress through the levels. You can find more information about Hotels.com loyalty program here.
Wotif was founded in 2000 and has since grown to be one of the largest travel sites in the world, with offices across the globe. Wotif provides users with access to over one million places to stay and 400+ airlines alongside travel packages, hire cars and top-rated experiences.
Wotif is known for offering special deals and discounts, making it a budget-friendly option. And for the leave-it-till-the last-minute vacationer, Wotif often offers last-minute deals on accommodation and flights.
The travel site also breaks options down into specific categories, such as: pet-friendly, solo trips, beach and luxury.
Founded in 2004, Kayak was one of the earliest travel sites on the internet. Kayak compares various travel options including flights, car rentals and vacation packages.
Kayak offers a “price alert” feature, where users can set up alerts for specific slights/routes. The platform will notify users when there are price changes or deals for their chosen travel plans.
Kayak’s free loyalty progra is called Kayak Rewards. Kayak Rewards gives you $1 for every 1000 Kayak points you earn. A sign-up bonus of 2000 Kayak points for every new member makes this loyalty program stand out from others. Other benefits of the reward program include travel and dining discounts and the option to redeem points for gift cards and electronic debit cards. You can find more information about Expedia’s loyalty program here.
Kayak can be accessed online.
Trivago has come a long way since it was founded by three friends in 2005. The travel site is part of Expedia Group and compares prices of over five million accommodation providers in 190 countries.
Trivago also provides user reviews and ratings for hotels, helping travellers make informed decisions. It also highlights special deals and discounts that are available at various hotels.
It’s important to note that, like Kayak, Trivago doesn’t always make bookings for you. Instead, it typically compares rates, allows you to select an option and then redirects you through to a separate booking website.
Review and information platforms
Tripadvisor is a popular site that provides reviews, ratings and information about accommodation, restaurants and other attractions. Featuring more than one billion reviews, Tripadvisor is known mainly for its user-generated content, which allows tourists to review others’ travel experiences. Tripadvisor also allows users to book accommodation, flights and other travel services directly through its platform.
The travel site conveniently offers travel guides and articles that help users plan their trips and discover new destinations.
A paid subscription option is coming to Tripadvisor soon. For an annual subscription of $99, users will be able to access Tripadvisor Plus. Tripadvisor Plus promises benefits such as discounts on accommodation and attractions. The subscription may be worthwhile if you travel regularly. However, if you only vacation one or two times a year, you’ll likely spend more on the subscription than you’d be saving.
Do travel sites offer the best deals?
Comparison travel sites offer competitive deals and discounts to their customers. And members of travel site loyalty programs often receive further discounted rates, which can save them money.
However, by booking directly with an airline or accommodation provider, you cut out the middle-man and can often secure a better deal. Therefore, it’s often a good idea to contact travel and hotel companies directly to enquire about their best rates.
However, if you prepay and the organisation goes out of business, you can risk losing your money. And a travel site can protect you from this.
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About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.