Looking for a Hotel
If you’re not booking accommodation directly through a Travel Agent (Seriously who still does?) there are loads of hotel booking sites out there to choose from. It can be a daunting task syphoning through all their websites and apps to find the best deal. If you’re anything like me, you can spend hour upon hour as you fall down the rabbit hole, trying to score the best and cheapest deal out there.
Our needs are a little different to most, needing to book 90 nights in up to 80 different hotels or different forms of accommodation. Our itinerary is flexible, (as mentioned in Why Another Travel Blog post), so we need a quick, easy and non complicated solution. An option that gives us the freedom to book on the fly and get a great rate too!
Read on for some of my tips based on the hours upon hours i recently spent trying to work out accommodation for our road trip USA.
If you’re only travelling for a short period of time and staying in one or two locations, Trivago and Momondo seem to be viable options as they do a lot of the hard yards for you and compare up to 200 booking sites which claims to get you the best rate. Fantastic for some one off savings.
Sites like Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, Wotif, Hotels.com etc seem to rely on repeat business. They encourage you to download their apps by offering “better rates” or further discounts. They all seem to have some sort of loyalty program as well, it was this that peaked my interest when I was researching the first week or so of our trip.
For instance, when you sign up to Expedia and make a booking, Expedia+ points are applied to your account that can be redeemed for coupons towards hotel rooms or flights. The more you book in a year you can also climb membership tiers, eg spending $5000 or 7 qualifying hotel bookings give you silver, $10000 or 15 nights gets you gold. These tiers give you perks such as accruing points quicker and potential room upgrades etc. For a full list of benefits check out Expedia’s website. The other sites all offer similar deals, feel free to head over to their sites to find out more if it sparks your fancy.
It was then through my research I stumbled upon Hotels.com. Similar to Expedia they offer membership tiers with better perks but it’s their simple reward scheme that I found to be the most appealing.
Book 10 nights get 1 free
This sounded too good to be true. After scrutinising the terms and conditions with a fine tooth comb, I realised it was simply just that good. After downloading their app and completing the free registration, for every night you book and stay you get your “card” stamped. This works much the same way as a typical frequent coffee shop card. Once 10 stamps have been achieved, the average amount of the 10 nights (minus taxes and fees) accrued will be allocated to put towards your next booking.
For example, you book 10 nights at one accommodation or different rooms averaging $200 a night minus taxes and fees. You will receive $200 credit for your next night or room. All you will need to pay are taxes & fees as these aren’t included in the average. Please note that the stamp will stay pending until up to 72 hours after actually staying the night, so you are unable to apply the 11th night on a stay right away.
When 10 nights of Hotels.com bookings are recorded within a membership year, membership is then upgraded to a silver status where extra benefits are able to be received. Once 30 nights has been collected, this will elevate you to the level of a gold member. No, not like in Austin Powers…
Please see below membership tier benefits courtesy of Hotels.com
So for us it was a no brainer. I roughly calculated that the money we would save finding the cheapest rate every time using trivago etc, wouldn’t be as great as receiving a free night after every 10. With our budget for accomodation in mind, we could potentially be looking at approximately $1000 in savings.
So if you are ever looking at a long holiday or you frequently go on weekend getaways, put some serious thought into what you could be saving by sticking to a rewards program such as Hotels.com. The simplicity of the rewards program alone is totally worth it.
As this is (unfortunately ..wink wink hotels.com) an unpaid plug, I will update once we have had experiences checking in etc, to let you know if that’s as smooth a process as booking.the rooms was. This experience really opened up my eyes on the benefits that are out there if you look hard enough. Stay tuned for my tips on car rentals and travel insurance.