When booking with a hotel directly, consumers often choose from among three different rates, said Bjorn Hanson, a professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. These include a public rate with no discounts, a discounted rate for members of loyalty programs, and a discounted non-refundable rate. “Almost always, one of those three will be as low or lower than the rate through an online travel agency for a similar arrangement,” Hanson said. But lower prices aren’t the only reason to book directly with a hotel or airline. People who go straight to the hotel or airline for their reservations can receive preferential treatment in many cases, such as upgrades or free services like internet. There’s also a greater chance that special requests made at booking will be honored when it is done directly. “Chances are you’ll be treated a little better, but sometimes you do need to call it out to them,” said Gautum Lulla, president of Travel Tripper, a hotel booking technology provider. Booking directly also proves useful in emergencies, such as when a traveler misses a flight or needs to cancel a reservation, according to Scott Mackenzie, founder and editor-in-chief of Travel Codex, a website that covers news about travel loyalty programs. “Whenever there’s a delay or cancellation, it makes it a lot easier to re-book the ticket,” Mackenzie said. “There also may be more flexibility with the rules.” Get the full story at MarketWatch