If you believe TV commercials with talking lawn ornaments and animated bellhops, you might think you're getting the best price when you book a hotel online.

"I did," said Bob Zandt of Wichita. But when he booked a room in Goodland through an online service in August, he wound up paying $108 for a room that regularly rents for $77 a night.

Online travel experts say that's not unusual. They say behind the glitzy marketing campaigns lie hidden fees, tax charges that are the subject of lawsuits, manipulation of online search engines to get your attention and low-price guarantees that aren't worth the photons marching across your monitor screen.

Bill Carroll, a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University in New York, said negotiating directly with a hotel will probably yield the lowest price.

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