3. Booking directly still has its advantages. Travel portals are as popular as ever. Priceline reported blowout quarterly results this week. Revenue climbed nearly 36% in its latest quarter, and earnings soared 58% higher. Through its several global websites, Priceline arranged $21.7 billion in gross bookings last year. If you think that's a lot, consider that market leader Expedia scored $29.2 billion in global gross bookings in 2011.
Both companies are growing at brisk double-digit percentage clips, so obviously it's not as if their shortcomings are scaring consumers away. Priceline's "name your own price" option offers knowledgeable travelers the ability to take a stab at a low rate. For those with a little less sense of adventure, but still open to a little mystery in exchange for a deal, Expedia's Hotwire may be just the ticket.
However, few lodging deals may be as sweet as calling up the actual hotel you wish to stay at and trying to negotiate a daily rate directly.