We love an effortless hack.
When it comes to finalizing the details of a trip, there are two kinds of travelers: those who need “a place to shower and sleep” and those who view the accommodations as an integral part of the overall experience. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, we can all agree that getting the best deal is top priority for whatever hotel or vacation home you choose.
That’s where the new Directo Chrome extension comes in.
Launched in its Beta form in March 2023, Directo helps travelers find savings by making it easier for them to book directly with properties they’re interested in instead of going through a third-party website. By cutting out the middleman (say, Booking.com or Airbnb), properties can often offer better prices to their guests. The extension is free for Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers like Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Brave.
How It Works
Once the Directo extension is downloaded from the Google Chrome Store and installed, users can head to Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com and search for a place to stay as they normally would. Meanwhile, Directo works in the background to find direct links for the accommodations you are looking at. By clicking on the link, you arrive at the direct website for the hotel or vacation rental, where you can see the deals they offer.
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“It was a well-known travel hack to search for accommodations on Google and compare the prices outside of the [third-party booking] platform,” says Marina Guastavino, the CEO and co-founder of Directo. “However, this process could be time-consuming and not very accessible to everyone.”
That’s why Guastavino and her team—all passionate travelers, she says—decided to create Directo to eliminate the need to spend so much time searching. It’s also why they specifically chose the format of a browser extension.
“It is something that doesn’t require the user to change their behavior,” she explains. “They already visit these travel sites to search for accommodations, so we figured it was a good idea to meet them where they are… saving them the time and trouble of searching on the internet.”
The extension is also designed to benefit property owners.
“Expanding direct booking is a crucial growth objective for hotels and property owners. We see how this strategy benefits the businesses by giving them better control over their revenue channels, helps in their brand building, and increases their profit margin,” adds Guastavino.
And when the businesses benefit, they can pass along those savings to their guests.
“As the book direct strategy grows, we see more and more accommodations willing to lower the price and offer a better overall experience to gain more customers through this channel,” Guastavino explains.
Pricing and Perks
Directo currently has more than 2,000 users, as well as more than 600,000 registered properties around the world. The average amount of money that users save can vary widely from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars depending on the property, the length of stay, and the season. While saving money is often the biggest motivator for booking directly with a property, there are times when the hotel or vacation rental can’t offer a better price than a third-party website. According to Guastavino, that’s when other perks come into play.
“While price is a big incentive, sometimes it can also be things like added amenities, a better cancellation policy, or the chance for direct contact with the owners in order to work out a specific deal for your case. Direct reservations tend to have priority over other types of reservations, which is also a benefit in case of overbooking or even if there are room upgrades available,” she explains. “Directo is a tool for travelers to make a more informed decision. We want them to have an easy way to compare what is the best choice for them, connecting them with the same hotel or property they already liked.”
Although Directo is less than a year old and still in Beta, its developers have plans for how they’d like to improve and expand this money-saving browser extension. Currently, Directo only works when users search for accommodations via Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking. The team wants to expand the number of websites available to Directo users, but the top priority is increasing the number of listings.
Other improvements are already in the works for the next version of Directo to include displaying the price comparison within the extension, so users can compare prices before moving away to the property’s direct website.
“Our final product vision is to build a service that helps a community of travelers get exclusive deals,” adds Guastavino. “No booking commission and extra perks.”
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