When it comes to booking hotels and getting the best deals, you can be overloaded with promises everywhere you look. We looked at over 3,000 hotels on 18 different travel agencies in 46 US cities and 12 international ones for 1, 3, and 7 night stay to compare the offers and find the cheapest options for you to consider.
It’s worth noting right away that most prices were the same across multiple travel agencies and even from hotels themselves, about 85% of them. Only a few websites had better rates than others, even if for only an average of $10 less.
Kayak, Trivago, and Travelocity were sometimes charging slightly better rates than their competitors. Unfortunately, travel agencies tend to mislead people and advertise rates that are significantly lower than regular hotel rates, which are rarely charged anyway.
A very common misleading practice is to show the high unrealistic price, cross it out, hype a lower price that is available everywhere, and claim that only 2 rooms are left at this price, and 16 people are looking at it now. In fact, rates often go down if you wait longer. Such practice is deceptive and not very nice.
A good tip is to always check if AAA or AARP discounts apply wherever you choose to book, because they can really make a difference in price, and not what the website claims.
One very big problem is that the industry lacks competition. There are really just two companies: Expedia and Booking Holdings. Expedia also owns Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com, and Hotwire. Bookings own Agoda, Booking.com, kayak, and Priceline.
In addition to low competition, industry insiders say that hotels require those online travel agencies agree to not undercut the hotel-set rates. This implies that you won’t see a lower rate on Travelocity versus Sheraton website, but you will at least see the same price.
The travel agency value comes from finding the best matches for travelers’ needs, but the price is not always the main component of this value.
Another way to save is to become a member of travel agency and get better deals because of that. Such savings can exceed 10%. These discounts can really add up for frequent travelers.
Extra savings can be added when booking a hotel and flight bundle, versus just hotel alone, according to Expedia insider. If you are looking to book a hotel, a car, and a flight, some rare savings can amount to 43% before the trip.
All travelers should set an alert after booking a room, because if the price goes down at any time before your scheduled trip, you have an option to cancel and reschedule at a better rate.
The best savings come from ‘mystery shopping’ where you agree to book a hotel without knowing which exact hotel that will be. This requires some flexibility and good luck, but the discounts are substantial. Hotwire Hot Rate and Priceline Express Deal are the two places to go to for that and an average of 38% savings. From this standpoint, Hotwire Hot Rate was better than Priceline.
Booking this way presents very few risks, because you can apply various filters and narrow down your choice significantly. You can select the number of stars you want, the exact area, and the amenities you need. Not knowing the exact name of the hotel is definitely worth 30-50% savings.
If you absolutely have to stay at a particular hotel, check out goSeek and SnapTravel for deals.
Travelocity is also worth your time and investigation too. Just like other travel sites, Travelocity offers great ways to plan a vacation with its bundle pricing and all-in-one place shopping.
Travelocity also offers coupons that really make a difference, so try them out when planning your next trip. Coupons are very easy to use. All you have to do is fill out your personal details and payment information on the checkout page and then enter the coupon code in the appropriate space.
Travelocity is a very wide network and there are a few places in the world where you wouldn’t be able to find accommodation, a car, or a flight on their website.
Frequent travelers would benefit a great deal from becoming Travelocity members and saving up to 50% during exclusive deals and member offers.
Travelocity also has Customer First Guarantee and allows you to cancel your booking up to 3 days before the scheduled trip if something changes. A flight can be cancelled for free 24 hours before the departure.
All in all, Travelocity is definitely worth looking into and often offers better deals than many competitors.