My experience has been that the more complicated a deal sounds, the more likely it isn't going to end up the way you thought it would. I bought a new car a few days ago, from a dealer that had no rebates or special deals. He just gave me a good price for the new car and a good price for my trade-in. I could have gone to another dealer offering "$500 gas cards", "$2500 cash back", "you'll love the way we treat you", yada yada yada. In the end the result would probably be the same for me, so why get lured by the carrots? They rarely taste good.
Find a good agent or agency that you are comfortable with and establish a relationship. You can do this with people far away from you too...they don't need to be local. Ask about group bookings and you'll be amazed that the price may be the same as what you get from whatever.com.