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Online booking sites aim to attract customers with big travel deals

Monday - 4/28/2014, 10:21am  ET

Airplane (Getty)
Online travel sites are giving customers more reasons to book flights, hotels and rental cars through their sites. (Getty Images)

How to know which online hotel reviews to trust

Scott McCartney, Wall Street Journal's Middle Seat columnist, shares booking tips.

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WASHINGTON -- Online travel agencies are trying to get customers to make the switch from browsers to bookers with loads of deals in time for summer vacation planners.

Travel websites such as Orbitz, Expedia and Hotels.com are offering incentives to customers to book through their sites by offering big kickbacks, Scott McCartney, Wall Street Journal's Middle Seat columnist, said on WTOP Monday.

"Online sites are offering really hefty rewards to try and get people to book through them," McCartney says.

"You can essentially double-dip and even triple-dip on your frequent flyer points by collecting airline miles plus a bonus from the online travel site in the form of a credit you can use in the future for your travel."

The same goes for hotels, too, he adds.

Online travel agencies are trying to prevent people from comparison shopping for flights and hotels on their sites and then booking directly on the airline's or hotel's website, McCartney says.

While specific deals may come and go, it's becoming more standard for travel sites to offer some sort of deal for customers, McCartney says.

"Anybody in travel has found that customers expect some kind of loyalty reward and so I think they're going to have to keep doing this," he said.

One way to get a good deal may be by booking on a mobile device. With Orbitz, customers can get an extra 2 percent back on hotels and 1 percent back on airfare by booking through a mobile device, according to McCartney's Middle Seat post.

Also, Expedia is offering triple points on top of a 500-point bonus for mobile bookings.

The reasoning behind this is simple, McCartney says.

"They want you to download their app and start using it."

McCartney says one of the best deals available is through Hotels.com. Through the Hotel.com loyalty program, customers who book 10 rooms get one room free.

"You know, 10 percent back is a pretty good deal these days."

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