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What makes the difference between the price of a room in two websites? If I use Trivago, I can find several prices for the same room. I want to know what makes the difference here. Is it the fee that hotels have to pay to the websites or something similar?

  • Not sure this is travel related. More like business model. Have you checked the terms and conditions? – Karlson Aug 9 '16 at 21:22
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    @Karlson: I think it's on topic. People want to know if this is a metric by which to tell if a site or hotel is ripping them off, taking advantage of them, etc. Know what the reasons are lets us decide whether they're valid reasons or whether to be suspicious. This gives a traveller more confidence in choosing a hotel or booking site. – hippietrail Aug 10 '16 at 3:53
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There are a myriad of reasons, but they fall into two categories:

  • different "extras" with the room and/or terms and conditions
  • particular marketing or discounting campaigns that they hoped not everyone would see

An example of the first would be paying less for a prepay-no-refunds booking than for a no-deposit-cancel-with-no-charge booking. Or paying less in return for not getting "Frequent stayer" miles, or booking 4 nights and getting the fifth free. These sorts of variations have been around forever.

The second is something hotels do when they are trying to get more bookings. Rather than lowering their price to everyone, they offer some number of rooms through some discounting site. They hope that they can book those rooms at a lower price to price-sensitive customers who are willing to go through third party sites etc, while still booking most of their rooms at a higher price through travel agents, walk-ins, people who use the hotel's own site, etc. The rise of aggregators is making this strategy less successful though, since it seems everyone knows all the special offers these days.

You want to read the fine print for sure. Not getting your frequent stayer points or your free breakfast, not being able to cancel - these may outweigh the discount for you. Or, you may just have found a bargain!

  • Yes, that's very often a factor. I think all of these price comparison pages use some kind of caching for the prices. – dunni Aug 11 '16 at 15:00
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There are many reasons for this:

  1. Seasonal
  2. Promotions or campaigns
  3. Pre-booked rooms (some sites gets favorable rates by reserving a block of rooms, which they sell)
  4. Reduced or restrictive conditions (pre-paid in advance only, heavy cancellation fees)
  5. Combinations/Packages - for example, a room is discounted if you also reserve a flight; or a room is discounted if you buy a ticket for the resort's attractions, etc.

Generally there are no fees that the hotels pay to the website for listings, its the other way around - the websites have to pay an availability provider; this is like an airline reservation system, but for hotels instead. This availability provider then has agreements with hotels (in most cases, the agreement is with larger hotel chains) to list their vacancies.

It is very rare - almost unheard of - for hotels to pay websites to list their availability; although this may be true for some mom-and-pop motel/b&b places, but it would be an exception rather than the norm.

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I suspect what you're finding are hotel consilidators

Hotel consolidator (also called a hotel broker or discounter) is a travel company or business that buys up blocks of hotel rooms in top destinations and then resells them at discounted rates to the final customer

More often you will see this with non-chain hotels as most of the chain hotels like Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc. will have Best Rate Guarantees (BRG) and don't want to compete with themselves. When these hotels offer discounted rooms they will often require them to be opaque and offered anonymously or with different benefit packages so that they can't be used as a BRG.

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