What To Know About Online Hotel Rates According To A Travel Agent
If you've planned at least 1 trip in your life, you know hotel rates fluctuate daily...sometimes hourly.
Booking sites always seem to have different prices for the same hotel, room category, rate type, and travel dates. Why is that?!
As part of my investigation into this trip planning dilemma (which even impacts travel agents), I checked rates and availability on several top booking sites and direct websites, as well as what GlobalNomad has to offer at 4 example properties. Here are my findings!
Example #1: The New York Edition
Sample dates: January 15-17, 2019 | 2 adults | Standard room | Nonrefundable
Example #2: W Bogota
Sample dates: September 25-27, 2019 | 2 adults | Standard Room | Nonrefundable
Example #3: TRUNK Hotel Tokyo
Sample dates: November 6-8, 2018 | 2 adults | Cozy or cheapest available | Nonrefundable
The Hoxton Amsterdam
Sample dates: August 7-9, 2018| 2 adults | Standard Room | Nonrefundable
What to know?
- The least expensive option that you see on online booking websites is 99% of the time going to be nonrefundable. This can either save you hundreds of dollars or bite you in the butt if you wind up canceling. So choose wisely according to your travel situation!
- Some inventory (room types) is not available on certain websites.
- Similar to hotel inventory, many smaller hotels may not listed on booking sites. In this case, direct rates from the hotel's website (or having your travel agent contact the property on your behalf) is the way to go.
- Notice 80% of the rates (for all properties) are within the same range +/- $100 but not identical. Sometimes you're saving pennies, other times hundreds of dollars. Top booking companies get access to lower than rack rates (found on the hotel's website) from time to time when hotels want to fill rooms.
- Taking the time to perform price comparisons is a must. During the research phase, you should ideally check:
- At least 1-2 OTAs (= online travel agent booking sites) - Kayak is one of our favorites because it pulls prices from various websites. And if they don't, they have clickable links that allow you to price compare without manually entering the search on each competitor website.
- The hotel's official website
- Your human travel agent
- Too busy to do you own research and chase down the best deal? Have GlobalNomad handle it especially if your party needs multiple hotel rooms or you require multi-city hotel reservations within 1 trip.
- 9 times out of 10, travel agents can book the best rate available or better. At GlobalNomad we always aim to offer the best price possible even if that means less commission (or sometimes none). It's safe to say that the myth that working with a travel agent is more expensive than booking on your own is false!
- It doesn't hurt our feelings when our clients take initiative and double check what we have to offer. It shows that you care about getting the best deal and, in return, we go the extra mile for you in securing a price match or better if you see a cheaper rate elsewhere. Ask and you shall receive.
- Hotel rates (like airfare) constantly change. It can decease or increase overnight. They are a product of supply and demand. As you travel agent, we have no control over pricing and availability but we can tell you when it's the most optimal time to book. Hotel wants to sell rooms as far in advance as possible. That's why early bird saver deals are so attractive. We read the fine print so you don't have to.
- Before booking we always point out the following to our clients (this is what you want to make note of):
Is the reservation refundable/nonrefundable?
Is your credit card charged the full amount at time of booking, a deposit, or just a guarantee? If not, when is this charged?
Are any perks included in your stay? Some of the most common amenities are daily breakfast, wifi, a welcome drink, one airport transfer, spa credit/discount or similar. We always try to throw goodies whenever possible!
- If you want loyalty points with Marriott Rewards or another frequent hotel guest program, it's always best to book directly or with a travel agent. Oftentimes, discounted stays booked on [insert preferred booking site] do not count towards elite status or rewards points.
- Want VIP guest service during your stay? Have GlobalNomad book your reservation whom afterwards contacts the property on your behalf to personalize your stay and set up any request arrangements in advance. When you book on [insert preferred booking site] you are just another reservation confirmation number.
- The same thing goes for room location. As a GlobalNomad client, we can contact the property on your behalf to request a room on one of the top floors (or similar). This is merely a request, not guaranteed but the hotel always does their best in accommodating such requests.
- Looking to save money on your dream hotel stay? Consider staying during the weekday (Sunday-Wednesday, Monday to Thursday, etc.) and/or compare rates for a longer stay. Many hotels offer discounted prices to guests who can 5-7 nights or longer. It never hurts to check!
- You're not crazy... if you perform the same hotel search on Kayak.com, for example, on your computer and phone you might get totally different pricing! Similar to comparing booking sites, once you narrow done the top 1 or 2 cheapest suppliers who offer the best rate, you could go one step further and check to see if desktop vs. mobile makes any difference.
- Ultimately if you are 100% flexible with dates (i.e. you can travel anytime) your travel agent can pinpoint shoulder months when rates are lower. By vacationing in Greece or Italy in later September or October, you can save hundreds of dollars on your hotel stay. The same goes for a January winter vacation in New York City. It's cheap because the weather is not so ideal, but the right type of traveler can make the best of it.
- For those who appreciate staying at the top 4 and 5-star luxury properties around the world, booking with a travel agent means you are on another level. There's no better way to get discounts and value-added amenities as GlobalNomad works directly with the property.
- Your travel agent may be able to secure an amazing deal for you around major holidays (Cyber Monday, Christmas/New Years, 4th of July... you name it).
- When undecided, always go for the standard room at a nicer, upscale hotel. With the money saved from booking the cheapest room, you can treat yourself to activities and food. When you think about you're mostly only going to be in your room to sleep, shower, and change clothes. Instead of watching the sunset from an expensive upgraded room with balcony, just go outside and watch it on the beach! One of our go-to recommendations for those who want to splurge only a little is to upgrade to a nicer room category on the last 1-2 nights of your vacation.
- Any easy way to save money / stay within your vacation budget is by staying less nights. If you're feeling overwhelmed with a 7-night hotel bill – just stay for 1 night shorter! Vacation satisfaction is pretty much the same regardless of whether you spend 6, 7 or 8 nights.
- Still don't think you can afford staying at your dream hotel? Your last resort could be simply staying 1 or 2 nights instead of a longer stay that would break the bank.