Should I book through an agent to get a hotel deal?
This really depends on where on the world you want to travel, what time of year you want to travel, and how far in advance you can book your hotel reservations. You already checked the popular travel web sites. Try checking the hotels' web sites directly. Sometimes, you can get a better deal by booking directly with a hotel than through a booking agent.
Which website to use finding hotel deals?
No one site will always have the best hotel deals. You have to check around to find the web site for the hotels you're interested in, call the 800 number and the hotel itself. A lot of deals are unique to one venue or another. Also, ask about AAA, AARP rates etc. And then check a week or two beforehand to see if anything new has popped up.
Most people do not know about hotel deals.
Everyone seems paranoid about getting the best airfares when in fact we find that the lodging costs are usually the biggest expense when we go on vacation. Maybe it's because airline travel is much more a commodity: there's much less variation (and much less choice) among air carriers than among hotels, so it makes more sense to compare them on price.
A lot of people seem to go out of their way to $25 on an air ticket but ignore the fact that they could also save $25/day on a hotel room. The same hotel room; e.g. AARP rates are typically a 10% discount.
What service to expect from a hotel deal.
Someone paying rack rate would expect the top quality service. If you pay at a discounted rate, should you expect less?
If you get lower-quality service because of the discount, is that really a discount at all? Discount means you pay less and still get the same service, does it not?
Of cause you it does; I expect the same service in any case. Do you really think that the hotel staff carries around a printout showing which customers paid which rate? Do you get fewer peanuts on the airline flight you booked 60 days in advance, also?
What kind of room can you expect when you got a hotel deal?
What is up with the way hotels and motels assign guests their rooms? In all of our travels we've been amazed at how, when checking into nearly empty hotels/motels, we're always given the least convenient room while the rest of the property remains empty.
If you don't state a preference, then you generally get whatever the desk clerk spots first, or you get the least desirable rooms, so they can keep the better ones available for people who care enough to request them. People who get the worst rooms are often those who: 1. The check-in person think will not complain about it, 2. They got a good internet deal or other deal.
Most people make their preference known when they make their reservations if they have one. Each designation has its advantages and disadvantages; upstairs at the back is usually quietest. "Down and in" (downstairs on the non-parking-lot side) usually has easy access to the pool, and no headlights in your window. "Up and out" lets you keep an eye on your car, but again, with less headlights and slightly less noise than the "down and out" that you can park right in front of.
Final word about hotel deals.
So don't be shy or embarrassed about getting a discount from your hotel deal. And don't be afraid to expect the same service.