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How To Find Hotel Bargain

How To Find Hotel Bargain

Last minute hotel bargain, hotel bargain, hotel reservation, tips on hotel bargain, how to do hotel bargain

The undercover investigators from Delaware Valley Consumers’ Checkbook conducted nearly 2,000 searches for hotel room rates and discovered that the majority of travel-booking platforms and hotel websites present identical prices.

Securing a hotel deal now demands a proactive approach.

Despite the apparent competition among numerous travel-booking websites vying for our travel expenditures, there is minimal price rivalry when it comes to hotel bookings. Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Kayak, Momondo, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity, Trivago, and various others are subsidiaries of travel industry giants Expedia Inc. or Booking Holdings, which collectively dominate the third-party online hotel-booking sector.

Last minute hotel bargain, hotel bargain, hotel reservation, tips on hotel bargain, how to do hotel bargain

Hotels have entered into agreements with Expedia, Booking, and other travel platforms, mandating all sellers, including hotels, to offer each room at an identical price across all booking channels. In the past, prior to these regulations that stifle price competition, obtaining a variety of rates was possible by contacting the hotel directly, utilizing the hotel company’s toll-free line, or scouring the internet for offers from different sites. However, this is no longer the case; most of the websites examined by Checkbook yielded identical rates for identical stays.

In addition to eradicating the chances for travelers to save through comparative shopping, hotels and third-party booking platforms persist in overcharging customers with undisclosed fees. The nightly rates displayed in search outcomes seldom align with the final amount you’ll be charged.

The positive aspect? There are certain methods to cut costs and steer clear of complications while reserving hotel rooms.

Hotel Bargain Tips #1: Explore different options a bit

Despite generally encountering similar hotel room prices across various platforms, occasionally, exploring multiple sources yielded unexpected deals. For instance, for a three-night stay at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, the most economical total price (inclusive of fees and taxes) for a refundable rate on the hotel’s official website for a “1 King Bed” room was $1,137. While most other prominent websites listed it at $936, Booking.com offered it for only $739 and even lower — just $508 — for a prepaid nonrefundable rate.

#2: To unearth hotel bargain, exercise patience and maintain flexibility

By not confining yourself to a particular hotel or chain, you can often achieve substantial savings. Compare prices among establishments that provide similar amenities. In addition to being adaptable with your hotel choice, contemplate alternative destinations and dates. Checkbook’s investigators discovered that significant savings were frequently possible by adjusting travel dates by a few days or weeks.

Hotel Bargain Tips #3: Hotwire’s Hot Rate and Priceline’s Express

hotel rooms How To Find Hotel Bargain

Deals boast substantial discounts, but there’s a caveat. Although the agreements between hotels and travel-booking websites prohibit advertising different prices for the same room and dates, companies are allowed to present lower rates by restricting access to specific groups. For instance, members of AAA or AARP might be eligible for modest discounts, and by signing up for emails or obtaining membership with a hotel chain or booking website, you may gain the ability to “unlock” reduced prices.

Certain companies navigate around hotel-pricing constraints through “mystery deals,” exemplified by Hotwire’s “Hot Rate” specials and Priceline’s “Express Deals.” When these rates were accessible, these two booking alternatives consistently offered Checkbook’s investigators the most economical prices: On average, they saved approximately 28% compared to the prevailing refundable rates available elsewhere, and mystery deals were approximately 20% more budget-friendly than other nonrefundable options. In some instances, mystery deals featured prices that were half as much as those found on most other booking sites.

Hotwire and Priceline’s mystery deals involve a bit of uncertainty. Although they reveal details about hotels’ neighborhoods, star ratings, average guest reviews, amenities, and other attributes, the names and precise addresses of the properties remain undisclosed until after payment, with no option for cancellation.

While this may seem risky, you are equipped with ample information and filters to secure a favorable location. By cross-referencing the number of guest reviews and property features with other listings of non-mystery rates in search results, it’s possible to identify the specific hotel associated with the mystery deal about 90% of the time.

#4: Enroll in membership programs and sign in to access exclusive rates

Hotels and travel-booking platforms are progressively extending special rates to individuals who become part of their frequent traveler clubs, provide email addresses, connect through Facebook, or undertake comparable actions. Joining and logging in typically resulted in savings of approximately 8% to 12% for Checkbook’s researchers.

Hotel Bargain Tips #5: Consider nonrefundable rates for cost savings

Nowadays, most hotels provide reduced rates when you make an upfront payment for a nonrefundable booking, and third-party booking websites follow suit. Opting for nonrefundable rates resulted in an average savings of about 12% compared to refundable rates.

Hotel Bargain Tips #6: Inquire about available discounts

Hotels and booking websites typically feature discounts (around 5% or so) for older adults, military service personnel, teachers, and AAA or AARP members on their websites, if applicable.

Hotel Bargain Tips #7: Maximize savings through cash-back shopping portals

Services like Rakuten, BeFrugal, Mr. Rebates, and others enable consumers to receive cash rebates for various purchases. These platforms collaborate with companies that offer commissions when they generate business. Subsequently, these websites share a portion of those earnings with customers. Cash-back companies partner with most third-party travel booking sites and numerous hotel chains, offering rebates typically ranging from 3% to 8%.

#8: Planning to stay at a specific hotel? Look for advantages when booking directly

Given that booking websites and hotels generally present identical rates for specific stays, consider making reservations directly with the hotel company. This approach may result in better room choices, complimentary upgrades, bonus rewards points, or additional perks. It also serves as a preferred method to avoid last-minute reservation cancellations due to overbooking.

#9: Costco’s travel service provides modest savings Members can access

Costcotravel.com for discounted hotel rates; on average, Costco achieved about a 6% reduction from prevailing rates for sample stays. While commendable, the options were somewhat limited — out of 75 sample stays, only 13 were available for booking through Costco.

Hotel Bargain Tips #10: Disregard warnings regarding limited hotel room availability

Frequently, hotel booking websites issue alerts like “Only two rooms left!” or “19 other travelers are looking at this deal!” In a prior investigation, Checkbook’s researchers spent several weeks exploring eight major hotel booking platforms and discovered that all employed such high-pressure sales tactics. The inquiry revealed that, despite the warnings, there is typically an ample number of available rooms.

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#11: Avoid hasty decisions

Hotel room prices generally become more affordable the longer you wait to make a booking.

Hotel Bargain Tips #12: Do not fixate on accruing points

Do not forego an excellent deal merely because it doesn’t involve staying with your preferred hotel brand for point accumulation. Hotel chains are consistently devaluing their rewards programs, so it’s advisable not to sacrifice $500 in savings by insisting on booking with a specific hotel to preserve points.

#13: After making a reservation, stay vigilant about prices

Especially if you have the flexibility to cancel or modify flights, accommodations, or car rentals without penalties, keep a close watch on rates, and rebook if they significantly drop.

Hotel Bargain Tips #14: Avoid investing in trip protection plans

The policies advocated by hotels and travel-booking sites are typically not worthwhile. Delve into the fine print, and you’ll discover these policies offer minimal coverage and come with numerous exclusions. Another indicator of their limited value is that certain credit cards provide customers with similar coverage for free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Travel Reservations and Hotel Bargain

Q1: How far in advance should I make travel reservations? A: It depends on the type of travel and destination. Generally, booking flights and accommodations 2-3 months in advance provides a good balance between securing good prices and having ample options.

Q2: Are nonrefundable reservations worth considering? A: Nonrefundable reservations often come with lower prices. If you are certain about your travel plans and willing to commit, opting for nonrefundable bookings can offer significant savings.

Q3: What are some tips for finding the best hotel deals? A: Compare prices across various booking platforms, consider joining loyalty programs for exclusive rates, and explore last-minute deals for potential discounts. Additionally, booking directly with the hotel may offer perks and flexibility.

Q4: How can I ensure my reservation is secure? A: Double-check your reservation details, confirmations, and payment receipts. Keep a copy of these documents, and contact the hotel or airline directly to confirm your reservation if you have any doubts.

Q5: What should I do if I need to cancel or modify my reservation? A: Review the cancellation policies before making reservations. If flexibility is essential, choose options that allow changes or cancellations without significant penalties. Be aware of any time-sensitive windows for modifications.

Q6: Are travel insurance and protection plans necessary for reservations? A: It depends on your travel preferences and circumstances. Evaluate the coverage offered by insurance or protection plans and consider your own risk tolerance. Some credit cards also provide travel insurance benefits, so check your card benefits before purchasing additional coverage.

Q7: How can I avoid unexpected fees during my stay? A: Read the terms and conditions of your reservation, especially regarding resort fees and other hidden charges. Communicate directly with the hotel or accommodation provider to clarify any uncertainties about additional fees before your arrival.

Q8: Can I trust third-party booking websites for reservations? A: While many third-party platforms are reliable, it’s essential to research and read reviews. Booking directly with hotels or airlines can sometimes offer better customer service and additional benefits. Always use secure payment methods and keep confirmation emails for reference.

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