In gaining an understanding of how to get the best deals on hotels and resorts we need to reflect on how much the industry has changed in the last two decades and remind ourselves of trends that may impact future travels.
In this new era of apps and websites it has never been easier for the average person to gain access to the best deals. Education is key to ensuring you get the best price. Sorting through the overwhelming amount of information is the biggest battle to ensuring you are getting the best deal possible.
Low-cost airlines have greatly increased and with that are savvy travelers who want to be aware of what they are paying and ensure they are getting the best deal. Low-cost carriers are increasing their market share and now account for just over a quarter of flight tickets sold.
With the rise of low cost airlines there has been a dramatic increase in online travel websites for nearly every need you may have. Remember the hours spent at the travel agent organising everything from the plane ticket to the accommodation and currency. The new travel websites are not only quick, but cheaper (the middle man no longer needs to be paid) to purchase cars, flights, hotel rooms and package deals. Comparison websites make it easy to compare prices across sites and between hotels.
With access to the intranet and data at our fingertips, the old school paper road map is no longer required. Stopping at creepy roadside places which you are sure were in a thriller you saw where a young woman was abducted and her children left in the car, are no longer required when looking for directions. Even Australia with vast amounts of remote land and terrible internet access can provide travelers with GPS maps and directions
Photography. My Insta-feed is full of all the places I want to be. Places that I dreamt of through travel brochures and coffee table books can now be searched and a whole plethora of interesting facts and shots can be found. Sometimes my desperation to see a place is cured and other times it is greatly ignited. One learning that if it has been Instagrammed profusely there is likely to be many of ‘grammers’ in long flowing skirts and felt hats at your point of interest trying to get the perfect shot. Grrrrrrr.
Lastly, online reviews give us all the opportunity to listen to real life experiences. Remember when all we had to go on was the hotel brochure and what the Public Relations executive had crafted to sell the resort? I never put too much value on reviews. Of two minds, one in which I wonder if any of my people write reviews? Who has time for this stuff?
Having worked in hotels you are far more likely to discuss an experience if it didn’t go to plan. I mean how enjoyable or entertaining is the story about your girlfriend who flew first class to Europe and was met by a driver, whisked to her hotel in a Rolls and then provided with a personal concierge for her trip. I mean it’s a fairy-tale for sure but I’d much rather listen to the friend who lost her luggage and didn’t have a reservation after being delayed and finally arriving at her hotel. The fight she had with her husband in the lobby is far more entertaining to me. Therefore you understand by reluctance to read and believe reviews.
How do we get the best deals on hotels and resorts?
A hotels goal or mission is to have 100% occupancy and they will often over-book to ensure 100%. The measurement of their success is in that 100%. The greatly number of full occupancy nights they have, the greater their success. Success will depict the amount charged for a room and often when you see a hotel that is vastly more expensive than surrounding hotels, the demand is driving up their prices.
How do we beat the demand driving up rates? If you truly want to stay at that hotel and nothing else will do, you can look at seasons. Aspen for an example was a winter wonderland and very low occupancy in the summer. A very successful summer campaign showing off how great the Rockies were in summer has now driven this traditional snow village into a year-round destination. Fall in Florida and winter in Europe are examples of how you can get good deals in their off seasons. Seek out business hotels for weekend trips as their occupancy will go down over the weekend as business people move out. Similarly seek out resort style accommodation for midweek escapes.
Ask the question at the hotel.
The reservation staff will not be shy in telling you this information. Remember, their goal is 100% which is oblivious of high and low season. If you can’t find a package on line ask the hotel staff if they offer this. As an Australian I find the US frustrating that breakfast is not included. Why not? Having rung the hotel directly, breakfast is suddenly included. Hotels will offer honour what is being offered on discount websites to walk in customers and direct calls.
Calling the specific hotel – not the centralised reservation number can help beat the best rate you have found online. (Centralised reservations may not have the authority to allow further discount pricing) As mentioned, the additional extras can help them secure your booking. Free WiFi and late checkout are often added when dealing with the property directly. Direct contact allows you to cut out the middle man if there are any changes to be made to your booking or if a refund is required.
Direct property contact allows you to have visibility of next week’s promotion not yet available to everyone else. A good reservation agent will be able to offer you deals for longer stays and any other added extras. Remember a reservation agents goal is 100%, no call to the hotel should be treated like an info-line.
Bundle your hotel and flight booking.
When you are travelling to one destination, searching for one deal that includes your airfare, transfers and accommodation is a great way to get a good price. Companies like Club Med have thrived on all-inclusive packages. Expedia is a great source of getting the best airfare and accommodation. Luxury Escapes manages to get such great deals because it commits to selling large numbers of packages for that property. Their prices are often 70% than competitor’s offerings. It is difficult to imagine using all of the included extras but you are not going to come out behind. Free games of golf that you never have the time to play are not lost money but rather just a voucher you didn’t use.
Sign up for a hotel’s loyalty programs
Or opt for a loyalty program through booking websites. Major chains have re-launched and re-evaluated how they reward their customers. Hotel rewards are earnt via nights booked or $ spent. The latter being the more popular.
Major chains saw their numbers of loyalty program members increase in 2016 by over 10%. That’s an increase of more than 300 million. The Inter Continental Group have more than 92 million members in their loyalty program. As far as targeted marketing goes, these are previous customers who have already purchased your product and have a level of brand loyalty and increased willingness to purchase again.
Developments in app technology have now given these return guests the ability to check-in online and choose their room. Guests can add special requests such as pillow preferences, and late checkouts before they arrive. One of the leading loyalty programs allows guests to ship luggage to the property for free.
Loyalty benefits from other sources.
Loyalty benefits are not always restricted to just joining the hotel program. Your insurance and credit card may already give you direct access to some of these programs. That book that comes with your credit card with 100 pages of benefits, go back and read it and be aware of your travel benefits or offerings. At the very least you may have access to a coupon or discount code.
Some professional organisations or clubs may have discounted codes. When you ask your local golf club if they have any subsidiary or sister club benefits. AAA and Student Association or other possible sources of reduced amounts. You can also search the Internet for discount codes on sites like Hotels.com, Retail Me Not, Orbitz.com or Coupon Heaven.
Sign up for alerts on price drop
- Get price alerts from Kayak – Sign up for Kayak’s price alerts for particular hotels or dates you’re interested in, so when the price drops, you’ll get an immediate email notification.
- Expedia – one of the best known and most recognised. I use Skyscanner for flights but Expedia for hotels and resorts.
- Snatch last minute deals with Priceline – Search Priceline’s Express Deals for super last-minute hotel rooms. Though deals like this can save you major $$$ (up to 60% off) there’s no guarantee you’ll get the room you need if you wait until the last minute. If you’re okay playing it on the risky side, give it a try.
- Check for more last-minute deals on Hotel Tonight. Hotel Tonight allows you to book last minute, open hotel rooms at amazing prices.
- Check daily deal sites. Groupon, LivingSocial and other deal-of-the-day services offer travel deals, but most of the time you must act quickly to snag one.
- Time Out in large cities is your best source of information. In both London and New York I think I would go so far as to say you don’t need to refer to anything else. In Sydney, I find Time Out a bit touch and go. In large cities it will help you with not only hotel deals, but also restaurants and sightseeing tours.
Let them know if you’re an influencer.
Travel bloggers should always let the hotel know that you are an influencer of some level. I myself finds telling people my statistics so embarrassing that I would prefer not to. I am certainly not in the realms of being offered nights for stories. You never know, one day that may all change.
Get paid to write hotel reviews on Yonderbound
Travelers can sign up to write accommodation reviews for Yonderbound as you would for any other review site (an example would be Trip Advisor). Yonderbound differs in that, when someone books a hotel after reading about it in one of your “reviews” you earn 70% of the sales profit.
Book a room at a new property or a closing property
Being aware of opening and closing properties is difficult. I myself receive about 100 emails a day just related to industry news around the globe. Getting to a new hotel in five hundred locations is not always possible. Instead I recommend you contact the local tourism board and ask questions to them. Last year we got a wonderful deal on a resort that was closing in Bali for a massive refurbishment. I will be making sure I am aware of opening deals – more to be a nosey person more than anything else. Hotels want to get that 100% and if that means gaining market penetration through greatly reduced room rates, that is what they will do. The hype around the hotel will create a buzz and interest which is great for continuing to get 100%.
Use airline miles or credit card points to purchase hotel rooms
Nope, those miles don’t just count towards flights. Use your airline rewards or miles when making your next booking.
Use travel rewards points. Many credit cards offer points equivalent to several nights’ hotel stays just for signing up, plus you can earn points when you use your new credit cards.
There are so many ways to get the best deal and offering. Time poor people be assured many of the apps and alerts you sign yourself up to whilst may annoy you will help you make an educated choice in choosing which deal is right for you. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best deal and price. I think common sense prevails and you just need to jump in. If you feel the price is fair and reasonable based on your research, hours of more research are unlikely to uncover greater savings. Travel, is our mission. Not the savings and value for money.