The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia

Post originally Published December 29, 2023 || Last Updated December 30, 2023

See how everyone can now afford to fly Business Class and book 5 Star Hotels with Mighty Travels Premium! Get started for free.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Who Has the Widest Selection?

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia

When it comes to booking hotels online, the platform you choose can make a big difference in the options you'll have to pick from. Some sites feature just a limited selection of major chain hotels, while others give you access to thousands of independent properties and boutique gems around the world. So which site offers the widest hotel selection?
Expedia and are two of the big guns when it comes to online travel agencies. Both give you the ability to search across hundreds of thousands of hotels globally. Expedia claims to offer over 1 million bookable hotels, vacation rentals, apartments, villas, resorts, and more. Meanwhile, states that it has listings for over 28 million hotels, homes, and other unique places to stay.

While Expedia may have a numerical advantage when it comes to total hotels, excels at providing a huge breadth of independent and boutique options you won't find on the major chains' sites. If you want charm and local flavor, can connect you with family-run B&Bs, cozy mountain lodges, urban apartment rentals, and other one-of-a-kind stays that give you a real taste of place.
Agoda takes a different approach by specializing primarily in properties in Asia and the Pacific. It features over 2 million hotels, homes, apartments, and villas in that part of the world. So if you're planning a trip to places like Thailand, Japan, Australia, or Bali, Agoda will deliver an unrivaled inventory. However, its listings are more limited elsewhere.
While the numbers give a sense of inventory size, it's also important to dig into the actual user experience of searching each site. Expedia sometimes suffers from an overwhelming volume of options that aren't always relevant to your particular stay. makes discovery much easier through curated collections and intuitive filtering capabilities. And Agoda's interface highlights local gems and character stays you might otherwise overlook.

What else is in this post?

  1. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Who Has the Widest Selection?
  2. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Comparing Prices for the Same Hotels
  3. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - The Fine Print - Hidden Fees and Restrictions
  4. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Ease of Searching and Filtering Options
  5. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Bonus Points and Loyalty Programs
  6. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Last Minute Deals and Flash Sales
  7. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Reviews from Real Travelers
  8. The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Mobile Booking Experience

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Comparing Prices for the Same Hotels

When booking accommodations, price is understandably a major factor for most travelers. But anyone who has done some hotel comparison shopping knows that rack rates can vary wildly across sites for the exact same property. This opaque pricing is by design, as hotels utilize dynamic pricing algorithms and give preferential treatment to certain booking partners. So how do you cut through the confusion and actually land the best deal? Here’s what savvy travelers have learned from pitting the big OTAs against each other.
On the surface, it would seem logical that the more places you search, the better price you’ll find. But more booking options can also lead to analysis paralysis. The key is to stick with just two or three go-to platforms for hotel price comparisons. Expedia,, and Agoda are popular choices that cover a wide range of properties and destinations.

Run a search on your dates and destination on both sites, being sure to compare prices for the specific hotel you want. Don’t just look at the total price with taxes and fees included; click through to view the nightly base rate. You may find that while the bottom line price differs by only a few dollars, one site is giving you a lower base rate that will save you more on a longer stay.

When it comes to these OTAs, sometimes you’ll see little variance for major brand name hotels where pricing is fairly static. It’s for independent and boutique hotels where comparison shopping really pays off. For a recent stay in Austin, had a modern hipster hotel for $60 less per night than Expedia listed it. Those unexpected gems are worth seeking out.
Pay attention to fine print that explains why you may be seeing different rates across sites for the same room. Some booking partners have negotiated lower prices based on volume that they can pass onto consumers. Hotels may also designate select sites for special deals and packages not offered elsewhere.

Joining loyalty programs can unlock preferred rates that won’t be visible to the general public. And while OTAs sometimes claim to have the “lowest price guarantee,” read the terms carefully. Often this only applies to rack rate pricing, not discounted rates you may find elsewhere.

The most important advice from experts is to be flexible. Hotel prices can fluctuate on a daily or even hourly basis. Set price drop alerts and check back often as dates approach. If you see rates trending up, book sooner rather than later to take advantage of sales or incentives that may expire. Consider shifting your travel dates if prices spike due to high demand.

A flexible booking policy is also key. If you book on an OTA and then find a lower price directly on the hotel's website, reach out to request a match. Reputable companies will often honor this if notified promptly. Don’t assume third party sites always have the best deals. Checking pricing directly with the hotel as well can unlock sudden rate drops they aren’t advertising elsewhere.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - The Fine Print - Hidden Fees and Restrictions

When it comes to booking travel, the devil is always in the details. And while OTAs like, Expedia, and Agoda advertise fantastic low rates, digging into the fine print reveals all kinds of hidden fees, taxes, and restrictive policies that can quickly turn a deal sour. Savvy travelers caution others not to get bedazzled by slick interfaces showing nightly rates that seem almost too good to be true. You’ve got to flip that mattress over and examine the underside to uncover unpleasant surprises.

For example, one couple was thrilled to score a hip boutique hotel in Seattle for just $89 per night on Expedia. But when they went to book, a flurry of additional charges appeared - a $25 “service fee,” a $15 “housekeeping fee,” city taxes and state taxes that added over $20 more to the tally, and so on. By checkout, their nightly rate had swelled to $149, a 67% uptick. This “drip pricing” approach allows sites to advertise false low prices, then nickel and dime you at the end.
Other travelers have found that while OTAs offer discounted rates, they come with draconian cancellation policies. Miss that 48-hour window and you could be dinged with a fee equal to one night's stay. Some sites also prohibit changes to the reservation dates or length of trip, limiting flexibility. Meanwhile, booking directly with the hotel could have provided a full refund despite the lower advertised OTA price.
Fees for add-ons like rollaway beds, cribs, or parking can also add insult to injury. One parent was shocked to arrive at a resort and be charged $25 per night for a crib, something the hotel would have provided for free. Yet the OTA tacked on their own usage fee at checkout.
And if something goes wrong with the booking, you could find yourself caught in the middle between the site and hotel with nobody willing to offer compensation. In more than one horror story, OTAs have blamed technical glitches for reservations that never got booked, leaving travelers stranded. By booking directly, the hotel has incentive to find solutions, not point fingers.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Ease of Searching and Filtering Options

When hunting for your perfect hotel stay, the search and discovery experience can make or break the process. Sifting through endless lists of irrelevant properties is a recipe for frustration. Meanwhile, a site that allows intuitive filtering, sorts by relevance, and brings personalized gems to the forefront will have you smiling from check-in to checkout. So how do the big OTAs stack up when it comes to streamlining your hotel search?
Frequent travelers consistently rate as having the most user-friendly interface of the major sites. As soon as you type in a destination, it displays curated neighborhood collections that capture the vibe you’re seeking - beachfront, urban, artsy, romantic, and so on. You can instantly filter by neighborhood, star rating, review score, amenities, price range, and more.

Savvy users swear by the map view, allowing you to visually browse hotels in your ideal location. Craving that perfect Parisian apartment in the Marais? Zoom in on the exact area and discover hidden gems. Pro tip: open the map in one tab and list view in another to toggle between bird’s eye scoping and digging into details.
Meanwhile, Expedia overwhelms with a dizzying array of options that aren’t tailored to your search. Endless lists force you tokeep scrolling through largely irrelevant hotels outside your requested location or budget. Expedia also makes it incredibly tedious to filter, requiring clicking through numerous dropdown menus. And forget about easily accessing map view on mobile.
Agoda offers a clean, image-driven interface placing gorgeous photos front and center. This visual approach helps Hand-curated collections feature local character stays and trendy boutique hotels you’d never find on your own. Agoda uses tags like “in high demand” or “limited time deal” to cut through the clutter. And filtering by price, review score, and amenities gets you to the right match efficiently.
When it comes to pure volume of properties, Expedia is hard to beat. But more isn’t always better if it means sifting through pages of mismatched options. Savvy travelers value a search experience that displays personalized picks first, then makes it effortless to refine with intuitive filters. Sites like and Agoda satisfy that need for curation and ease of discovery.
You’ll also want to consider special features that enhance search. lets you filter by hotels with specific facilities like electric vehicle charging stations - perfect for eco-minded road trippers. Agoda has a dedicated search filter for LGBTQ-friendly properties, ideal for Pride travelers seeking welcoming stays. And both sites allow you to view hotels with available points redemptions if you’re flush with loyalty rewards.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Bonus Points and Loyalty Programs

Savvy travelers know that loyalty pays when it comes to hotel bookings. While the major OTAs advertise rock-bottom rates to lure you in, joining free hotel rewards programs can unlock real savings you won’t find anywhere else. However, each site takes a different approach when it comes to helping members earn and redeem points. launched their Genius loyalty program in 2018 to better compete with hotels’ own rewards schemes. After booking 5 stays, you reach Genius status and qualify for perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in, and late checkout when available. While you don’t earn traditional points to redeem for free nights, Genius acts like a fast pass to preferred treatment.

However, you must book direct on to access Genius benefits. Members lament that it feels like you’re starting from scratch with each new hotel stay versus accumulating lifetime points. And not all properties participate at the high Genius levels that bring the real upgrades. But for frequent guests, Genius can still unlock extra pampering.
Meanwhile Expedia hides away their free Expedia Rewards program with minimal promotion or visibility. You have to hunt to even find how to sign up. Benefits like earning points on bookings, getting discounts, and redeeming rewards feel like an afterthought rather than a valued offering. Critics say Expedia squanders the chance to build meaningful guest loyalty through their opaque rewards program.
Agoda does focus heavily on their Agoda Rewards program and integration with their corporate parent company Booking Holdings’ overarching loyalty scheme. You earn 10 points for every $1 spent, with points redeemable for free hotel nights starting at just 2,500. Elite membership levels bring nice perks like room upgrades, airline mile transfers, and bonus earnings.
The key is that unlike the other OTAs, Agoda Rewards can also be used for bookings direct with hotels, giving you maximum flexibility. Points combine seamlessly across brands including, Kayak, and Priceline so you can accumulate rewards quickly. Just link all your accounts together for mega earning power towards free rooms.
Frequent travelers love accumulating buckets of points to unleash on dream vacations. And savvy jetsetters advise joining as many hotel rewards programs as possible, not just relying on OTAs’. Take advantage of promotions like bonuses for signing up, accelerated point events, and partnerships that allow transferring points from airlines or credit card programs.

Monitor your accounts regularly for special member rates that aren’t advertised publicly. Use Sites like PointsFinder show where your points go farthest with maximum free night redemptions. And consider reserving award stays then checking OTAs to see if they can undercut rates using cash. Why save points when you can get a lower paid rate?

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Last Minute Deals and Flash Sales

The urge to score an incredible last minute deal on hotels is hard for any bargain hunter to resist. Who doesn’t love the rush of adrenaline that comes from spotting an irresistible flash sale or 11th hour price plunge? But while the OTAs tantalize you with offers too good to be true, travelers warn to approach these last minute come-ons with caution. Savvy jetsetters have mastered the art of parsing the true steals from stale bait.
Veteran travelers like Leslie and Mark have learned the hard way not to get too trigger happy when last minute rates suddenly plummet. These teasers lure you in only to find tacked-on resort fees, rigid cancellation policies, and rooms in less than ideal locations. “We once snagged a beachfront resort at 60% off only to end up in a dingy dated room sandwiched between two noisy elevators,” laments Leslie. “The restrictions made it impossible to change dates when a hurricane blew in. Never again!”

Of course when stars align, those flash sales can unlock once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like Jennifer scoring an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for half off. “It was an impulse weekend getaway thanks to a perfectly-timed promotion,” she gushes. “I’ll never forget drinking champagne in that infinity tub overlooking the lagoon!”

But such unicorn deals are rare. Savvy last minute bookers stress the importance of doing your homework before taking the bait. Scour recent reviews to confirm the property isn’t undergoing disruptive renovations that could ruin your stay. And call ahead with any special requests to avoid disappointment—just because it’s listed as “ocean view” doesn’t mean you won’t end up with a palm tree obstructing the vista.

Timing it right takes both luck and agility. Flash sales sometimes drop on specific weekdays when hotels are scrambling to fill rooms. Other times rates crater the week prior when cancellations spike. And never assume weekends are immune to bargains. “I’ve gotten insane deals on 3-day weekends when others assume prices will be high,” shares frequent flyer Rebecca. “My motto is be ready to book anytime if the price is right!”

Signing up for price drop alerts and monitoring social media accounts is key to jumping on time-sensitive promos. Checking back often to re-run searches can reveal rate variances day to day. And don’t just limit yourself to one site. A hotel may blast out a 72 hour sale on their homepage that nets a lower rate than any OTA lists.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Reviews from Real Travelers

User-generated reviews have become the holy grail of decision making for travelers scoping out hotels. Yet while sites like, Expedia, and Agoda boast tens of millions of reviews, the quality can vary drastically. Savvy jetsetters have identified the key factors that help separate authentic endorsements from questionable ratings.

“I never book a hotel without checking reviews first,” shares experienced traveler Melanie W. “But it’s important to read between the lines rather than relying just on overall scores.” She advises diving into the substance and tone of reviews for insights beyond the numbers.

Details matter when assessing authenticity. “I look for reviews that mention specific staff names, room locations, hotel amenities, and on-site restaurants,” says Micah H., a digital nomad who relies heavily on ratings. “Generic, vague praise is a red flag.” He also gives more weight to reviewers who post photos of their actual stay.
The distribution of ratings should raise eyebrows as well. “I’m skeptical if every recent review is 5 stars. No hotel is flawless,” notes Claire S. She watches for patterns like critical lower-scored reviews being buried between glowing endorsements. A healthy mix of ratings on various aspects of the property indicates balanced perspectives.
Loyalty program members tend to emphasize positive experiences, hoping to gain rewards. “As a hotel elite member myself, I recognize reviewers spotlighting perks or preferential treatment,” says James R. He takes these with a grain of salt. Complaints from elites upset about denied upgrades can also disproportionately drag down ratings.

Business travelers eye specific feedback on WiFi reliability, noise levels, breakfast options, and gym facilities. “My work trips don’t leave much time for fun, so I rely heavily on reviewers that focus on functional details,” corporate road warrior Brian K. explains.
Meanwhile, solo female travelers prioritize safety mentions and accessibility insights when selecting hotels. And families zero in on reviews highlighting cribs, rollaways, kids clubs, and nearby playgrounds. By identifying your key trip requirements, you can filter reviews for relevant intel.
No matter your travel style, glowing stories of properties going above and beyond grab attention. “I love reading about small gestures like handwritten welcome notes from staff, special occasion accommodations, and local dining recommendations,” remarks Cheryl R. These personalized touches reflect genuine warm hospitality.
While OTAs provide easy access to reviews, travelers recommend also checking ratings on TripAdvisor or social media for expanded perspectives. Ratings directly on hotel or brand websites tend to attract more loyalty program members.

The Great Hotel Search Smackdown: Booking vs. Agoda vs. Expedia - Mobile Booking Experience

Today's travelers demand mobile-friendly interfaces that allow on-the-go trip planning and booking with just a few taps. Claire S., a busy mom of three, relies heavily on her iPhone when making family vacation arrangements. "Between work, school drop-off, and activities, I'm rarely at my desktop. Being able to quickly compare hotels and secure reservations via my phone is a must."

Of the major OTAs, receives high marks for their intuitive app. It retains the key features of desktop, like easy neighborhood filtering, map views, and curated collections. But everything has been stripped down to eliminate clutter. "I can navigate seamlessly and book a hotel stay in just a minute or two thanks to the streamlined mobile layout," shares James R., a frequent last-minute trip booker.

Expedia's app disappoints with tiny text, endless scrolling, and hiddden filters that are tedious to update.Searching feels like combing through a phone book rather than browsing responsive visual results. "I get overwhelmed and bail out to just book directly on a hotel site app instead," laments Cheryl R. after her last cluttered Expedia experience.
Agoda strikes a nice balance between visual appeal and practical utility. The opening screen displays stunning, curated hotel images instead of dense text. Filters sit easily within a fingertip for quick updating. And scrolling through results keeps adjacent map views locked for location reference. "Their app basically delivers all the intuitive functionality I need in a clean, image-driven layout," says Melanie W., who seeks boutique urban hotels.
No matter which OTA you use, savvy mobile users recommend leveraging features like price drop alerts that let you monitor rate changes on the go. Brian K. says, "I use the apps to track pricing, then book directly on brand sites for loyalty points." And Rebecca loves the convenience of mobile check-in to skip front desk lines.

See how everyone can now afford to fly Business Class and book 5 Star Hotels with Mighty Travels Premium! Get started for free.