Everything you need to know about Expedia, OTAs, and finding the best hotel deals
Expedia is an online marketplace to search for and find various travel deals, especially hotels. It is what is known as an online travel agent, or OTA, and has been in business since 1996.
Using OTA’s can be a great way to quickly search for the best value for money options on your next vacation, and through Mighty Travel Premium’s partnership with Expedia, adding a hotel to your incredible flight deal is a smooth and simple process.
To help you get the most out of your use of Expedia, here’s everything you need to know about the company, about the benefits of using OTAs, and how to search for the best deals via Mighty Travels Premium.
Where did Expedia come from?
Back in its early days, Expedia was a subdivision of the mighty Microsoft. Founded on October 22, 1996, it was run by a team of Microsoft employees, including Richard Barton – also the founder of Zillow and Glassdoor. Richard had been in charge of creating CD-ROM travel guides at Microsoft, but as the CD-ROM market began to dry up, he had a vision of taking this niche online and actually selling travel via the internet.
For a while, Barton had planned to call this offshoot product ‘Microsoft Travel.’ Thankfully, he quickly changed his mind, instead combining the words ‘Exploration and Speed’ to come up with Expedia.
The road to acquiring support for this idea was long and bumpy; back then, the internet was still in its infancy, and people were wary of undertaking money transactions online. Expedia had to work hard to convince people that there was a better way to search, plan and book travel than heading to their high street travel agent or picking up the phone.
Slowly but surely, the impetus to use Expedia grew, and in 1999, Microsoft announced an initial public offering (IPO) of the company, which ultimately saw it spun off into its own standalone business. Richard Barton became the CEO of the new firm, which, at the time, had pricing and schedule availability for more than 450 airlines, 40,000 hotels, and all major car rental companies.
Since then, Expedia has grown to become the second biggest OTA in the world, surpassed only by Booking.com in its revenue. It has snapped up other travel websites, including Travelocity, HomeAway and Orbitz Worldwide. It took majority stakes in Trivago and TripAdvisor, but maintains those as separate and competing businesses.
Today, the Expedia Group represents 200+ travel websites, 70+ global brands and reaches more than 70 countries with its services. All in, it has more than three million hotels and other properties on its search engines.
What else is in this post?
- Where did Expedia come from?
- What is an OTA and why should you use one?
- Which OTA is better?
- How to book a bargain hotel stay with Mighty Travels Premium
- Making a booking for your luxury hotel stay
- Top tips for booking with OTAs
- Mighty Travels Premium is the best way to access the top deals at all OTAs
What is an OTA and why should you use one?
Expedia is an online travel agent – OTA – one of many out there that are often the first place travelers go to research their next trip. OTAs offer websites finding prices on and selling bookings for everything from flights to car rental to accommodation and more.
For travelers, there is a huge benefit to using an OTA for your next trip. OTAs often list hundreds, if not thousands, of options, allowing you to quickly and simply compare prices and offers. Many, like Expedia, have intelligent filtering offers that allow you to hone in on exactly what you want. When it comes to hotels, you can choose from options such as those offering inclusive breakfast, places with pools or spas, and those which allow you to bring pets, for example.
By using an online travel agent, you can also be assured of round-the-clock support if anything goes wrong with your travel. Most OTAs have a 24-hour support line and access to resources that can help you iron out any issues, which can be incredibly valuable when miles away from home in a strange country.
Booking through online travel agencies can sometimes be cheaper than booking directly. This is not always the case, but very frequently, OTAs will have access to deals and discounts not available to travelers who call up the accommodation or book on the hotel website.
What we also love about OTA bookings is that most of them, including Expedia, have visitor reviews of the hotels right there on the site. Properties are given a star rating based on the average review score of guests, and you can click on ‘see all’ reviews to bring up the written testimonies of those who have visited.
This list can also be filtered by the type of traveler – family, solo, couples, etc. – so you can find out what people like you thought of their stay.
One of the biggest benefits of using an OTA is the accrual of points. Expedia, as an example, offers discounts for members who register for a free account and then allows you to gather points when bookings are made.
Earning points with Expedia Rewards
As a registered member, you will be able to accrue points when you book through Expedia for your travel. For hotels, the reward is one point per $1, £1, or €1 spent on hotels. VIP hotels, which are selected 4* and 5* properties, accrue triple points, and there are sometimes promotional offers for double or even triple points on your booking.
Points can be redeemed for discounts or even full payment on hotel stays, car hire or activities. They can also be used for a coupon towards a holiday package.
When you first sign up, you’ll be allocated ‘Blue’ status, which is the basic entry-level status. As you accrue ‘Trip Elements’ – one per hotel room per night – you’ll progress to Silver status. Silver unlocks double points earning for all bookings, and perks like spa credits or free breakfast at some properties.
Keep booking and you could reach Gold status, giving you triple points on all bookings. You also get guaranteed two-hour late checkout and free room upgrades where available at selected properties.
Other OTAs also have various rewards programs available. Some of the better ones are Hotels.com, which offers an excellent return on hotel bookings, and Booking.com, with its ‘Genius’ scheme – this can unlock secret deals and specific discounts on top-quality hotels. Whichever site you end up booking with, it’s worth being registered for their loyalty program to get more from your spend on hotels.
Which OTA is better?
Of course, Expedia is just one of many OTAs around the world today. Anyone who has been through the process of booking a holiday will undoubtedly have come across many ways to search and book, including sites like KAYAK, Hotels.com, Trivago, Lastminute.com and many, many more.
However, it’s important to note that most of these global brands are owned by two behemoth travel companies – the Expedia Group and Booking Holdings. There are some independents out there, such as On The Beach and Trip.com, but you’d be surprised how many of the popular OTAs fall under one of the two dominating groups.
The Expedia Group is the owner of more than 70 global travel brands, including Hotels.com, Trivago, Orbitz, VRBO, Travelocity and many more.
The Booking Holdings group has a bunch of brands under its umbrella too, including Agoda, Cheapflights, KAYAK, momondo and HotelsCombined.
But despite many of these brands still having the same overall owners, sometimes search results can differ between the options available. So how do you know which one is best?
The answer to that will depend very much on what you’re looking for in your hotel booking. Some travelers will just want to see the very cheapest options for their stay, others will be seeking specific perks such as included meals or accessible rooms.
Here at Mighty Travels, we know our premium subscribers are focussed on getting luxury for less, which is why we’ve done the hard work for you. We search all major online travel agents (OTAs) for the best bargains, and bring them to you in a customized list, just like we do with our flights.
How to book a bargain hotel stay with Mighty Travels Premium
Mighty Travels has brought all the benefits of the OTA to our members right here on our site. We curate the best offers from the most luxurious hotels around the world on offer from leading OTAs, including Expedia, Agoda, KAYAK, and many more. Here’s how to find your next stay.
Log into your Mighty Travels Premium account, and you’ll find yourself on our familiar flight search page. To get directly to hotel offers, head up to ‘hotels’ at the top of the page.
This will bring you to a selection of search offers, followed by a list of our best offers in the coming weeks. If you’re just searching for inspiration, take a browse through our handpicked offers to see some of the best deals around right now.
For most of our members, you’ll already know where you want to go and when, which is where the search function comes into play. You can be as broad or as narrow in your search parameters as you like, much of which will depend on your individual needs.
To search for a hotel in a specific country, just start typing the name. By the time you get to the third letter, you should find your destination appearing in the list below. Simply select that to enter it into the search box.
If you’re totally flexible on where you go within that country, you can hit search right away to see a selection of the best offers around.
If you want to stay in a particular city, use the same process to enter your destination in the ‘select city’ box. Note that you can search by city without entering the country first.
Should you be in the market for earning some points with your favorite hotel group during your stay, you can further narrow your results using the ‘select hotel chain affiliation’ option.
You can also change the sort order of the results shown to be either ‘cheaper than usual’ or ‘the cheapest’ to find the best deals. You can also adjust your travel dates for each hotel in the options below the photos.
Making a booking for your luxury hotel stay
All that remains now is to browse the list of available properties and make your selection. Mighty Travels collects information on incredible hotel deals from a wide variety of partners – just click on your selected property to be taken to their website in order to make the booking.
From our search, we picked one of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai – FIVE Jumeirah Village. This took us to the property page on Expedia, where we found a deal for an incredible rate of just $80 per night for an October 12th check in. Here, we can see lots of lovely photos of the property, access lists of amenities, maps, policies and guest reviews.
To make a booking, simply adjust your dates and number of guests. Top tip: sign in or create an account to reveal the lowest prices for your date. Choose ‘check availability’ to bring up the available rooms and real-time pricing, and we can see there are a choice of two rooms available on our date at just above our $80 target price – still a huge saving over the typical $189 a night rate.
We do work with many major OTAs to find the best prices, so let's go ahead and select a different property to see how things work on other platforms. For our second property, we picked the famous Atlantis on The Palm in Dubai – one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and home to the world’s biggest water park.
Atlantis typically costs around $644 a night, and doesn’t often come up at a discount, so to find it for $241 is super, even if it is next September. Clicking through takes us to KAYAK, where we can see a range of prices from different OTAs. The cheapest on the list is indeed $241, and it’s with Booking.com. From there, we can simply click through to Booking and make our reservation.
For one final example, we’ve reordered our search by ‘the cheapest (but still luxurious) to find the very best price possible. Up pops Ghaya Grand Hotel for a stay on October 29th, costing just $48.
Clicking through takes us to Agoda, where all the usual facilities are available. Note that, in this case, it hasn’t brought our target date across automatically, but instead has prompted us to enter it ourselves. No problem; we’ll go ahead and do that.
This brings up our chosen hotel at the top of the results, but also allows us to see some other hotels and their pricing for the same night. It’s come up a little more expensive than we expected, probably because Agoda builds in all our taxes and fees, but is still an excellent bargain for a five-star hotel in Dubai.
Top tips for booking with OTAs
Booking with OTAs is a popular choice – around 60 – 75% of North Americans and Europeans use these services to compare prices and book hotels for their trips. If you are making a booking, here are some top tips to make sure you get the most from your interaction:
- Don’t forget to check all the room types when making your booking. For our Ghaya Grand stay, for example, the cheapest room types are either a deluxe twin or deluxe double, both priced at $64 all in. Scrolling down, however, we can see there is another room type for just a few dollars more, and an entire one bedroom apartment for $18 extra.
- If you see it, always click the ‘show more deals’ at the bottom of each room type to see how much extra it costs to add things like breakfast and free cancelation.
- Read the reviews before you book – reports from real travelers can tell you more about a hotel in a few moments than you could ever learn from their PR efforts.
- Make sure your OTA has included all the taxes and fees in the price you are seeing, otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to the point of paying.
- Always sign in to the OTA when searching for deals; you could be presented with bigger discounts.
- Sign up for their loyalty scheme to accrue points, discounts or perks for future hotel stays.
Mighty Travels Premium is the best way to access the top deals at all OTAs
If you’re looking for a great deal on a luxury hotel, you could spend hours clicking around all the various websites out there trying to find the hidden gems. Or, you could let Mighty Travels do the hard work for you.
Just like we weed out the best business class flight deals for your enjoyment, we work just as hard on finding the cheapest and best value four- and five-star hotel deals too. Combining results from all the biggest OTAs means we can save you time, money and effort, presenting all the tastiest deals in your chosen location.