If you are looking to book a hotel, there are certainly enough booking portals to choose from, with hotels.com and agoda.com among my favorites. The challenge is that each of these portals has their strength and weaknesses: Agoda is very strong in Asia and good in Europe, but looses out regularly against hotels.com in the US. If you are looking for one search engine to look across all those hotel portals, Trivago is here to help! Read my review to see if it should be your go-to hotel booking site!
Trivago promises to search for prices at 1 million hotels on more than 250 booking sites, all in one easy search, allowing you to find the best rates whoever offers them. And to make your decision easier, it also gives you access to 140 million reviews, presented with a helpful summary.
How does it work? The Trivago site welcomes you with a simple destination search box, that expands to allow for dates and the type of room you look for as soon as you start typing. You can also pick the currency and language (English and Spanish only):
Once you have kicked off your search, you’ll get a list of all the hotels with availability for your dates sorted by popularity. You can also sort with focus on price, distance or ratings. That still incorporates some level of popularity and you have to click a second time to ONLY sort by that criteria – something I don’t find too helpful.
The list of available hotels is presented in a list-view, with the name of the property, the rating and price, or in a map view, with each property symbolized by their rating – from green smiley faces to red frowns.
Now, it’s time to filter that list down to a more manageable selection. You have a selection of common filters, like rating, price or destination from landmarks and addresses or key amenities. And a long list of extra filters, like the hotel chain, the size of the hotel or type of lodging. This long list of criteria makes it possible to be very specific about the type of hotel you want, something many other sites don’t allow!
One of the key differentiators of Trivago is their approach to ratings. They have developed an algorithm (their secret sauce) to aggregate ratings from different sites, like the different booking sites that provide the pricing). This gives them a massive number of reviews, both from validated and unvalidated sources, addressing key issues of other review sites!
Once you have picked the hotel you like, it’s time to find the best deal. Trivago will show you deals from a variety of booking portals and prices for different room categories. While it promises to search more than 250 booking sites, it surprisingly missed some basics: For many of the hotels, there was no price from the hotels own website – something I always want to see, because you can only enjoy elite member perks when booking through the hotel site. The sites on display were also mainly the big US portals, but I didn’t see Agoda or some of the sites strong in other regions, like Asia or Europe! That does not bode well for searches outside the US, where sometimes the smaller, local sites have an advantage! At least, it does highlight the lowest available price – and not, like Tripadvisor, a higher price from a site Tripadvisor
gets a higher commission from prefers…
When you select the hotel, room and booking portal, Trivago will send you to that site to complete your booking. It does not offer direct bookings at Trivago, another difference from Tripadvisor, and avoids any conflict of interest when displaying the results and providers!
Why should I care?: If you are looking for an easy way to book hotels and to get the best deal out there, Trivago is a good starting point. It provides easy to use tools to search for hotels, filter and sort them to select the right one for you and find the best deal.
I like the various filters and sort criteria, making it easier to narrow down your choices in places with lots of hotels – a big improvement over Kayak, which is great for flights but less userfriendly for hotels. I also find the approach to ratings and reviews innovative – it avoids the problem of the booking sites that have validated reviews – but few of them or of Tripadvisor that has lots of reviews – but they are not validated as actual guests and can be fake!
The judge is still out on how effective Trivago is in truly finding the best deal on the internet – I will do a follow up comparison of various hotel meta-search engines and will let you know the outcome in a future post. Until then, I recommend to give Trivago a try – it’s one of the most user-friendly hotel search sites out there!