Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dos and Don'ts to Book Hotels Online

There are so many sites offering the best hotel rates that it's confusing and even stressful booking the hotel for your next trip.

I tend to spend hours researching to find  the best deal available and lately, this is what I found out:

Hotels are offering the best deals on their own websites. Most of the times, sites like: hotels.com, expedia.com, travelocity.com, booking.com, and many others, offer a higher rate than the hotels will offer on their sites, if you add all the fees and taxes that they don't show at first. Also, when you use different sites to book a hotel room, when you get to the hotel, they usually give you the worse room they have available and since you didn't book with the hotel, there is not you can do.  

If you do book, through one of these sites, e-mail the hotel in advance and ask for the room you want... it usually works.

Rule number one of online booking: if the offer is too good to be true, it's a trap. 

There is a site called Prestigia and they usually offer amazing rates, way bellow the competition. Researching them online, I found out numerous complains of people claiming that they booked hotels overseas through Prestigia and when they got to the hotel, they were charged the difference. Prestigia showed the rates in US dollars, but they were actually in Euros. So the US$200 dollars room advertised on their website cost actually US$269 or $200 Euros.

So, why not use Kayak.com/ or Trivago.com to compare travel sites rates and then check the hotel site? It will save you time and money.


Rule number two of online booking: never trust the rates you find on sites claiming they have the best rate guarantee. It's a lie!

Rule number three: Always check the hotel site and you will be surprise that the rates are usually the lowest you can find.

Rule number four: Always use your AAA or AARP number and any hotel will give you between 5 and 10% discount on their best rate. You can't get that on Hotels.com!

Rule number six: Never book a hotel without reading the reviews on Tripadvisor. This might prevent a really bad experience on your next trip. Like when I was about to book a hotel in Europe and after reading the reviews on Tripadvisor, I noticed that everyone mentioned a late hours pub next door to the hotel. "It didn't bother us", "If you are a heavy sleeper, it will not be an issue"... The news about the pub (obviously, not mentioned on the hotel site) was enough for me not to book a room at that hotel).    

Something interesting happened to me this week while booking a hotel for 5 nights - Wednesday through Monday - in October. I found the rates too expansive, so I changed my search for Friday through Monday. There was a weekend special with 50% off for the second and third night. This special would not show on the 5 nights search. So, instead of making one 5 nights reservation, I placed two reservations - 2 and 3 nights - and just for that, I saved 40% on this stay.

Safe travels, everyone!

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