The difference between a travel metasearch engine and a booking service is not always easily apparent. In fact, the Hipmunk customer service team gets plenty of questions about flight confirmations, hotel reservation changes, and other reservation questions. But Hipmunk, in fact, is a metasearch engine rather than a booking provider or OTA (online travel agency). Simply put, that means we do the searching but the reservation is still made directly with the airline or hotel provider.
OTA’s are online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, JustFly, and others. Booking providers are more related to hotel bookings like Hotels.com, Booking.com, Getaroom, and much more. These companies are selling product—either hotels or flights—and take payment for those products. Hipmunk, on the other hand, doesn’t sell a product or take payment. Instead, we help you save time and money by searching all of these booking providers, Airbnbs, airlines, and OTA sites for you at once! We are called “meta” because we aggregate the flight and hotel information from these websites (with their permission, of course!) and post them on our site.
How does it work?
When you run a flight or hotel search, we make a request to our partners’ websites and they return the requested information. Then we consolidate the information into one place for you – your results page. When you choose to book a flight or hotel, you are still booking with the original OTA, airline, or booking provider but, they can work a little differently.
For flights, we always redirect you to the OTA or direct to the airline’s website. So, you can skip searching their site for the flight and go straight to the booking page. When you book and pay, it’s done directly on their site as if you ran the search and found the flight on their site to begin with! Just be sure to take note of who you’re booking with for any reservation questions down the line.
For hotels, you can either redirect to the booking provider’s website to book, or you can choose to book directly on the Hipmunk website. We call this “Book on Hipmunk”. This allows you to book your hotel without leaving our website and we’ll save your reservation confirmation in your Hipmunk account for easy reference. For more information on this feature, check out the help page on the “My Bookings” section of your account.
What does this mean?
Hipmunk is a search engine! What does that mean for reservation questions, changes, cancellations? Don’t fret! You still have the airline, OTA, or booking provider to help. Just give a call to the company you booked with and they’ll be happy to help. If you’re ever unsure of who you booked with, check your credit card transactions to see who took payment for the flight or hotel. Whichever company took payment is the same company that can help manage your reservation. For more help, visit our help pages or feel free to contact our support team!