How to save money on hotel bookings when you travel
THERE ARE two excellent websites to find hotel deals: Priceline and Hotwire. They need a bit of time and patience but can be quite rewarding, as I found out recently when I booked a hotel room in Munich for 60 per cent less than my colleague who used a regular website.
Score The Best Deals
WHEN TO SEARCH
The best time to search for hotel rooms tends to be around two or three weeks before your departure date. Be sure your travel plans are definite before booking a nonrefundable room on these sites.
Priceline works as a bidding site, offering people the chance to bid on a dramatically discounted hotel room that is anticipated not to be sold in time. You bid for a room based on your requirements and time of stay without actually knowing which hotel you will be staying in if you ‘win’.
Suppose I was looking for a hotel in New York from the 12th to the 16th of May. I choose the Times Square Theatre District and request a 5-star hotel. I am told that the median price for a 5 star hotel in the Times Square Theatre District is $642 and so now I can place a reasonable bid according to my budget.
Let’s say that I place a bid of $411 (I find that bidding in rounded up figures such as $410 doesn’t win as often). If my bid wins, my credit card is charged and I will enjoy my stay in a 5-star hotel in my chosen district. If my bid is rejected, I am not charged and cannot place a bid for the following 24 hours.
If I was to change my search to a 4-star hotel, the median price would become $402 and I would adjust my bid accordingly.
Hotwire has a set price along with some information. When making a travel reservation on Hotwire (eg, hotel, flight, cruise, car rental), the actual service provider is not revealed until after you purchase and finalise your reservation. For example, when reserving a hotel on Hotwire, the name and exact address of the hotel remain hidden until you buy. Only certain information about the hotel is revealed such as the hotel star-rating, general vicinity, hotel amenities and price. This allows hotels and suppliers to offer deep discounts on excess supply.
On many occasions you can save 50-60 per cent by using these websites. If you would prefer to know the name of the hotel using Hotwire and Priceline, you can use Bidding for Travel and BetterBidding, which help you narrow down considerably by applying filters.
Both sites require patience and practice. So you’d best start now!