The first and most important thing to note about Orbitz is that it’s owned by Expedia. In fact, is basically is Expedia. In case you haven’t noticed the two company’s website are almost (but not quite identical). While originally started as a company to compete against Expedia, it was ironically purchased by them in 2015. As Expedia did with most of the other sites it purchased, Orbitz slowly became more and more similar to it’s parent, until what we are left with today is basically Expedia in a different skin, and slightly more aimed at the North American market.
|Hotels.com is a brand under Expedia Group, however until recently they’ve focused almost entirely as their name suggests, on hotels. They are probably best known for their generous rewards program which entitles you to one free night for every 10 that you book on the site. It many markets, Hotells.com is extremely popular, even more so that its parent, Expedia.|
|For a full list of features we recommend you take a look at our article on Expedia as the functionality between the two different websites is almost the same. One thing that is different however is their loyalty program. Orbitz has one of the better loyalty programs in the industry, rewarding you with 3% of your booking price in the form of their virtual currency. Book with their mobile app to get an even bigger 4%. In addition to that you start off as a Silver member, but booking just 4 nights in a year will get you Gold membership where you can unlock perks like free breakfast and Wi-fi as hotels. Booking 12 or more nights within a year and you’ll be upgraded to Platinum which allows you to reimburse up to $50 for things like seat upgrades on flights, you get TSA Pre thrown in, as well as further potential hotel upgrades like room upgrades and early check-in.||Agoda offers both one-way and return flights, however it doesn’t offer any more advanced features like multi-stop or open jaw flights. While is interface is slick and easy to use, it only offers the option to search for “passengers” i.e. you can’t search for children’s prices. If you’re travelling as a family this might cost your dearly, but won’t make a difference if traveling as a couple or on business. One great option that is visible on many flights is seat selection, as this can be done prior to making your booking, whereas with many other competitors you can only do it afterwards – this of course is airline dependent. One massive disadvantage to booking flights on Agoda is that from our testing, they don’t display any useful information at all about baggage and change and cancellation fees – simply directing you to the airline’s websites. Without this kind of useful information, you’re probably better of just booking with the airline’s directly. For return flights, Agoda will package the departure and return flights together. While this makes it easy to select flight, it typically doesn’t give you as many options as selecting them separately. While the basic filters all work fine, there are no options to filter by transfer city, or airline alliance. The price calendar feature at the top of the search results is a nice touch, but we found that it’s missing a lot of prices which makes it not particularly useful. Unlike the main competitors, Agoda doesn’t provide any information about the plane apart from the model, so there’s no way to find out if the flight has Wi-fi or how wide the seats are, for example. We found that Agoda’s search works fairly well, supporting cities, states and countries. It doesn’t support searching by attraction, however we suspect that is not particularly useful to most people anyway.|
|Pricing & Fees||Pricing & Fees|
|Like other Expedia Group companies, there are no booking fees charge for hotels. And also, unlike their flight offering which often charges a payment fee depending on your payment type, there’s no payment fees when it comes to hotels. The pricing, generally speaking, is exactly in line with Expedia. While you might find some special deals from time-to-time that are Orbitz-only, the vast majority of pricing is exactly the same, right down to the last cent. The pricing is generally speaking quite good across the board, although it’s generally possible to find a cheaper price on other sites if you look hard enough, however you always know that Orbitz will still be around tomorrow, unlike some of the brands where you can save a few dollars.||Our own tests found that Hotels.com is one of the pricier options available, and has similar, but slightly more expensive pricing than its parent company, Expedia. As with Expedia though, pricing in the Americas is particularly sharp, and we found that these two sites can sometimes offer significantly cheaper prices in the US and Canada. As with its parent company, Hotels.com doesn’t charge any extra booking fees, or credit card fees – everything is built into the price.|
|As with Expedia, availability on Orbitz is excellent, generally speaking. You’ll find the exact same hotels are available shared across all the Expedia Group platforms, which allows them to have good coverage in most corners of the globe. Naturally, their coverage is best in their home market, but is generally still very good elsewhere as well.||Unfortunately, we found that room availability on Hotels.com was lower than some of its competitors. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a worse deal, and it’s not worth writing them off over this. Interestingly, we found that it had worse availability than its parent, Expedia, whereas we expected them to have identical availability. This suggests that not all room inventory is shared amongst the sites.|
|You can book hotels through Orbitz’ website, mobile website, or mobile app (both iOS and Android available). In terms of language options, Orbitz is very basic, only supporting English and Spanish, a clear nod towards it’s target market of North America.||Hotels.com is available via mobile app on both iOS and Android, as via as having both mobile and desktop sites. Hotels.com have a whopping 86 country-language pairs, a seriously impressive effort that should be able to serve anyone no matter where on earth you are.|
|Payment Methods||Payment Methods|
In terms of Credit and Debit cards, Orbitz offers a wide variety of options. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, Diners, Discover and JCB are all accepted on their platform. In addition to that you can also pay via PayPal as well as Click-to-Pay. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that their app or website offers any other 3rd party options like Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Hotels.com accepts major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard and American Express. It can also process a number of smaller cards including JCB, Diners, BCcard, UnionPay, Discover and JCB. It also accepts PayPal both on the desktop site and on the mobile app, and you can also pay using Hotels.com own gift cards.
|Orbitz is a long-standing company owned by one of the biggest travel companies in the world. This alone is worth something in an industry where new companies seem to pop up and disappear overnight. As with Expedia, their customer service has a reputation for being a bit hit-or-miss, but in most cases it’s unlikely you’ll have a to use them anyway, especially if you’re booking hotels with free cancellation.||A quick Google search reveals less than impressive reviews about Hotels.com on sites like TrustPilot, however their app rates very well on both the Apple Store and Google Play. Anecdotally Expedia group companies aren’t exactly known for their top-notch customer services, however we’ve heard that Hotels.com’s service is generally acceptable.|
|Customer Service||Customer Service|
|As with other Expedia Group companies, Orbitz can be difficult to contact. While they do have a contact information on their website, they deliberately make you work to find it in order to reduce their call centre volume. If you search hard enough though you can indeed find a phone number you can call. Before that stage though you’re probably going to be directed to their chatbot. Fortunately, the chatbot is more than capable of taking care of regular tasks such as cancelling and changing your booking, so if you don’t require talking to a human this is a quick and efficient option.||Hotels.com provides support through both online chat and over the phone. As with some of the competitors, it can be difficult to find the correct choice sometimes, with the app and website directing you to their FAQ in the first instance. Keep pushing though and you get find their phone numbers and a link to the char service. Unlike some other competitors, you can initiate a chat session without having logged-in or having made a booking which is a definite plus.|
|Generally speaking, unless they have a special deal at the time you’re going to book, booking with Orbitz doesn’t make a huge amount of sense and we’d probably stick to their parent. They do have a relatively good amount of “cashback” through their loyalty program when booking hotels online, so if you’re travelling frequently for work or leisure it’s a good way to eventually earn some free nights.||We wouldn’t hesitate to book hotels through Hotels.com. In fact, given that until recently they’ve focused entirely on hotels should mean that they have a fairly solid process. As with all hotel sites, remember to check that you’re booking a hotel with free cancellation to avoid any problems later. Their rewards program remains the best of any of the OTAs, so this along is a strong reason for any frequent traveler to give them a go.|