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Only this afternoon I asked the good people at Ciao to add Expedia to the site so I could write a lovely review for all you great readers out there and low and behold they have outdone themselves and added it already, so here goes.
I will admit I have only used the expedia website on one occasion, but I cannot fault them at all.
Their site is so simple to use, you pick whether you want flights, flight & hotel or flights, hotel & car hire all together. It's then as simple as picking your dates, how many adults are going, how many children (including their ages). You pick your departure airport and your destination, then you just hit the search button and it does a very fast search. Unlike most travel sites (going paces, etc) they do not have a cut off time for searching for your holiday, I noticed a lot of them shut this function off at midnight, only to resume the next morning (weird huh?), Expedia are there for you 24/7.
Once it has finished the search it displays a list of various different holidays to match your criteria, including pictures of the hotel. You can then narrow your search down:
If you want flights only, you pick the cheapest or the dearest depending on how rich you are. You can also pick from numerous different airlines depending on which you prefer to use (for example, Virgin, Fly Be, Continental Airlines, United Air, etc).
If you are looking for flights and a hotel you pick your airline and then you can narrow down your hotel search by picking the different amenities you want - you just tick the boxes and hit search again and it brings up all the matching hotels. If you want a particular area you can also decide upon this from a drop-down menu. For example, I went to Florida and I could pick from International Drive/Universal Area, Disney Area, Kissimmee Area, Lake Buena Vista Area, etc etc. You can also get information on the particular hotel by clicking on more hotel info. This opens in the same page by the way, you cannot tab it open into a new page. This section is great - You get pictures/videos of the rooms, eating areas, pools, etc you also get an overview of the hotel, a list of hotel and room amenities, any extra changes upon arrival, check in and out information, a map of the location, where the hotel is near, how far it is from the airport and how much this will cost via taxi, bus, etc. They also have a travellers opinion section for each hotel which is a great way to get all the real people's opinion on the place and a rating out of 5 - This section also provides you with helpful traveller tips and hints.
If your holiday includes a car you can pick from various types and costs of car. I don't really know what way this bit works as I did not require a car.
Once you have decided upon your perfect holiday you click the continue button and it shows you a breakdown/overview of you choices and the total cost. It automatically adds on travel insurance for all of your group members, you can choose to keep this or you can unselect it and recalculate your price, I guess this is for people who have their own insurance or for if you want to look for somewhere cheaper. I recommend the Expedia insurance as they cover absolutely everything you can imagine and the terms and conditions explain this in a lot of detail.
Once you have decided upon everything you can then click continue to the payment screen where you will be asked for all your details and a username and password for any future visits to their site. You can pay a down payment and pay the rest later if you wish, or like myself you can pay the full amount straight away. They then email you with your iteniary and you print this to take along with you to the airport. Expedia do not issue actual tickets so you will definately need to print this out. Just make sure you have your passport when you get to the airport. They also email you terms and conditions regarding visas/passports, etc.
They accept various payment methods, but they only seem to accept credit cards for online payments, so if you wish to pay by switch or other means you will have to phone them up. They have one of them 0870 numbers, but it only costs 10p per minute from any landline (probably more for mobiles). The customer service staff working on the phones are based in Belfast and they are extremely friendly and helpful, no task is too much for them - I had the person I was talking to check out all the diffrent prices on all the different airlines to see how much first class, business class, etc would be and this took them no time at all. Don't forget to take their name incase you wish to speak to the same person again in the future.
If you need help with something and don't want to ring they have a fantastic customer support section with every topic or problem you can think of.
You can even buy tickets for attractions to wherever you are going from their site, for example, Universal Studios Theme Park tickets, Disney Tickets, Dinner Shows, Sports Events, Music Events, etc. You are better checking with other places regarding tickets as well because although some of Expedia's are better (ie, come with transport) and some are cheaper, there are the odd few that cost a good bit more, so do your research before booking. Please note when getting attraction tickets off them, you are not actually sent a ticket you are infact emailed a voucher which you print out and then follow the easy to use instructions. I got one for a dinner show and all I had to do was email the dinner show with the voucher number, when I wanted to go, our names and then they emailed me back with my booking reference number, simple as that.
If you do not wish to pay for you trip or anything when you have picked it you can actually save the itenary to your 'My Trips' section to look at later and pay whenever you have the cash.
If you are unsure of where you would like to go on your hols they also have a section called 'Inspire Me' where you will be helped find the perfect holiday for you and your family. This is even great to just have a look through and dream of all them wonderful places, and you never know you might just see somewhere you have never even thought of before. They also have a 'Deals' section which tells you all the deals of the day/season, etc, there is also a top 10 destinations section for the more popular placesin the world. They have a 'Family' section which is there specifically for those of you with children who like to find places specific to you and your child's needs/wants. The other great section is 'Maps' where you can look for maps on wherever you are going, they even have a bit where you can get driving directions at no extra cost.
All in all I have to say that Expedia is the best travel website I have ever used, not only is it very simple to navigate, they also do the best offers and prices ever. When I say offers, I mean they give you discounts for anything really. Because I booked my flight and hotel together from them they gave me a discount of £80, they do this for all of their holidays and they also always make sure if the hotel has a promotion on that you know about it so you are never going to be out of pocket.