We’re all used to booking our trips on the internet. That’s hardly new. But here’s something that is: increasingly, instead of using big online travel agents such as Expedia, Lastminute.com and Ebookers, confident web consumers are cutting out the middlemen and booking direct with airlines and hotels instead.

The trend is revealed in recent statistics from the internet intelligence firm Hitwise, which showed that while visits to online travel agents remained stable last year, visits to hotels’ and airlines’ own sites grew by nearly one-fifth. “People are going to online travel agents, finding the flight or hotel they want, then going direct to the supplier to buy it in the hope of saving some money,” said the company.

My, what a sneaky lot we are. But are we smart? It’s always been thought that the big agents offer the best deals, because they can negotiate bulk allocations of seats and rooms. Now, though, things are changing. The hotels and airlines are wising up to the way internet travellers shop — and counting the cost of the commission they have to pay third-party agents.

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