Are metasearch engines still the best place to find travel bargains?

Over the past few years metasearch engines such as Kayak and have shaken up the travel industry, changing the way we book flights, hotel rooms and car hire. They're fast, they scour multiple online travel agents to search for sharp deals and they give us plenty of choices, but they might not be the best place to book. Hotels and airlines are fighting back, matching and even beating the deals that the metasearch engines offer via various OTAs.

Another reason to book direct with an airline or hotel is the lacklustre service that many of the OTAs deliver. Changing a booking, arranging a refund or even finding a contact number can be impossible if you've booked through an OTA. Online reviews for some of the OTAs are enough to make you run fast in the other direction. A metasearch engine might still be your first port of call on the hunt for a hotel or airfare, but using the feedback as an information tool before booking direct with the service provider is the smart way to travel.