Let’s Get Those Deals
Do you know all of the different discount sources that need to be checked to make sure you are getting the cheapest rates on your hotel reservations?
We don’t claim to know all of them, but have compiled some of the methods we resort to. Experienced travel hackers would know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s our sample workflow to check the rates on every reservation once you have decided on the hotel.
Step 1: Google Search
Search for Hotel on Google and add the dates to see the rates on most sites. You’ll get a good sense of the rate.
Let’s try it out on our attempt to book Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. Typical rates are US$ 371/night. But Findhotel has a $231/night rate. Check it out. The per night rate means nothing since taxes and fees are different on different sites.
Step 2: Metasearch
Run the same search on other meta-search sites like Kayak, Trivago, Tripadvisor. Often you’ll get the links to these sites from Google. Check the lowest rates on these sites. Typically, they will be less than what you’ll see on Google, since they include a lot of smaller OTAs.
Note down the cheapest price until now, and the site. A word of warning: Don’t trust the price per night. Check the total with taxes.
If you are new to this, you are probably already tired after this. However, we are just getting started.
Step 3: Coupon Search
Search for coupons. Check goSeek. You’ll need a premium account to see AAA, AARP, rates with coupon codes and other secret rates. But, you’ll have a good idea of the lower rate even without a premium account. In our case, there’s no special rate, Agoda still seems to be cheapest. Re-calibrate the lowest rate if required.
Step 4: Hotel Site
Visit hotel site. Check if they have any promo codes or member rates available. The maximum discount with these promo codes is 20%. It is mostly in the 10% range.
In our case, the member rate is actually lower on Hyatt Ziva website that any other site we have checked until now.
Step 5: Member rates
Go back to Step 1 and check for loyalty rates like Booking.com Genius rates, Hotels.com/Expedia logged in rates. Almost every site offers a cheaper rate, if logged in. In our case, there is no loyalty discount on any platform.
Step 6: Mobile exclusive
Redo step 1-5 on mobile and different browser. Why? Many sites have mobile exclusive rates and fluctuate rates based on browsers.
Here’s an example of Agoda showing a different rate on Microsoft Edge
Step 7: Rates on mobile app
Download the app of the cheapest rate source and check the rates there. Why? Rates are often lower in the app compared to the online versions. In our case, there’s no further discount.
At this point, you have gotten a good idea of how low the cash rates can be. Let’s see if we can redeem points for the hotel
Step 8: Points redemption
Points redemption are typically possible or worthwhile only if the hotel is part of a chain. If you have the points in your account, it is probably a judgement call if you should pay with points or cash.
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos will cost 30000 points/night for 2 adults. It would be a 1.2c/point redemption of a Hyatt point. We won’t do it for this value. But, to each his/her own.
However, there are cases where you can buy points and it might turn out to be cheaper than booking with cash.
For example, Hilton points can often be bought for 0.5-0.6c. Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South, Austria typically goes for $100+, but only 10K point. If you bought the points, you could get the room for $50-$60
Step 9: Package rates
Check package rates. It sounds ludicrous, but in some cases, the cost for flight+hotel package is cheaper than the hotel itself. This typically affects the more expensive resort destinations. No such luck in our case.
Step 10: Unpublished rates
Check for unpublished rate sources. There are plenty of sources which don’t show up online e.g. Dosh app, ebates hotel portal, Greyhound hotel portal, hotel booking portal for various airlines
Step 11: Cashback portal
Check on cashbackmonitor.com to see if there’s any cashback possible for the site where the rate was the lowest.
Step 12: Book Hotel
Book the hotel where the rate is the lowest, if possible following the cashback link in Step 11.
Step 13: Forward to firstname.lastname@example.org
Following Step 1 – Step 10 would tell you the cheapest rates at the time of your search. However, hotel rates fluctuate. So, forward the cheapest rate you have found to a tracking service like trackmyreservation.com so that future price drops don’t go unnoticed.
You can also, skip Step 2 – Step 10 entirely and opt for TrackMyReservation premium where human ninjas perform these steps and lot more for you, for only $10/reservation. Simply forward your confirmation to email@example.com and relax.
Are we missing anything?
A few other advanced methods have not been referenced here: stacking cashback, credit card and hotel loyalty free nights, Rockettrip and similar, currency arbitrage etc.