As I coincidentally hit Orbitz Platinum again yesterday we want to remind our readers that it can be worth it focusing on a particular Online Travel Agent (OTA) when making isolated hotel and travel bookings.
Orbitz Rewards like many other competitors (most of which are just an Expedia sleeve nowadays) offers it’s customers a range of discount and benefit options when using their engine frequently.
I tend to book many hotels that are either independent or local chains which don’t have their own loyalty program so it doesn’t hurt to book these properties via an OTA such as Orbitz or Expedia. What I like about Orbitz is their constant flow of discount codes (most of the time 15% off) while you can still earn their loyalty currency ‘Orbucks’ which is 3% of the hotel purchase on the website and 5% via the mobile app.
That alone amounts to a 20% discount on all hotel bookings I do for hotels such as TOKYU Stay in Japan or various independent properties.
To enjoy these benefits you sign up for Orbitz Rewards (access here) where you also earn a tiered status depending on your nights booked with them.
The status from Gold onward allows the member to enjoy certain VIP benefits at some hotels which can be anything or nothing and is unfortunately nowhere noted even at the time of booking. I did get a nice suite upgrade though when I booked a Porto Bay hotel in Portugal last month.
I just hit my 12th night and while I was dropped to Gold status for 2 weeks the account is now back to Platinum.
One of the benefits is that Orbitz will reimburse you up to $50 a year in baggage fees if the flight was booked through the website as well. I wrote an article a few months ago (see here) how I successfully claimed that benefit.
What can be quite useful is the Elite Hotline if you have an issue with a hotel that needs to be rectified. Often the customer service agent is able to help or if not offer you $50 in Orbucks as compensation. Having Platinum status helps here!
Another good thing is that the Best Rate Guarantee reimburses the customer in Orbucks which are adding to the account balance and can be used collectively. For example if you do 5 BRG’s and receive $250 total in Orbucks you can then use the entire amount to offset one hotel booking. Other websites issue one coupon per BRG that can’t be combined with others.
While the VIP property benefits are very vague and anything but guaranteed I recommend to concentrate your hotel bookings through one particular channel such as Orbitz if a third party booking is an option.
Overall I find booking with them a very positive experience and claiming the benefits a painless, straight forward process. These Orbucks are as good as cash to me as I often use Orbitz to book independent (non-chain) hotels at destinations where I don’t want to go out of my way just to stay at a chain hotel or where there are simply none available.
I think all benefits considered it’s a good deal to pool such bookings on an OTA that offers such a loyalty scheme especially if there are always some good discount codes available that bring down the rates by up to 15%.