Deciding on where to go on your next weekend trip is the first step, but deciding on where to stay is the second, and sometimes the hardest choice to make. There are so many different accommodation options in all different price ranges available that it can be confusing weighing the pros and cons of all of the them to determine the best value for the money you’re about to spend.
Personally, I’ve experienced all types of hotels, and anyone who knows me understands my need to get the best deal possible. That can be tricky when finding rooms.
Spending a small amount on a hotel normally means less-than-stellar service and amenities, but spending tons can seem like a waste when you aren’t in your room all that much. But then, paying for a rental can seem scary, expensive, and nontraditional. Let me just say that none of the above has to be true if you don’t make it to true.
Last minute deals will probably make anyone giddy, and HotelTonight is no exception. This mobile app gives you the opportunity to book rooms up to a week in advance of your travel dates at lower rates than most of the competition. How? Hotels would rather book rooms at a lower rate than let them go unattended. HT teams up with hotels in many areas of the world to offer users an easy way to find deals with just a few clicks.
HT gives convenience a new definition. You literally open the app, scroll through the options, click, and book. A confirmation is sent to you and they do the rest. Even better, Geo Rates give you steeper deals if you are really choosing last minute and are currently in the area of where you are looking to book. It’s a win-win: you get a great deal and the hotel books an otherwise empty room! Whatsmore, HT has introduced a new service called Aces Concierge, where a member of the HT team is at your fingertips, via the app, and in no time they are answering questions, setting up reservations, and reviewing special requests with the hotel. It’s a stress free way to make plans when time is limited in a place you’ve never been.
Don’t feel comfortable waiting until the last minute to book a room? JetSetter helps solve that problem by allowing you to book up to a year in advance of your travel date. That’s a plus when you like to plan out your trips more than a week to a few days ahead of time, which can be stressful for some. However, JetSetter does prove that the closer to your travel date you book, the better a deal you will get. No matter how far in advance you book, there are so many hotel options and choices for every price range.
JetSetter is the perfect option for someone who also doesn’t want to rely on an app. It is a more mainstream booking option, allowing you to sit down and research hotels all on one site. It even has a built in link to TripAdvisor reviews and user photos, a trusted source for many travelers. Another great advantage is their Today’s Deals & Upcoming Sales sections, which give you the option of booking great deals all over the world, days to several months in advance. You will notice sales that run up to 15 days or less for properties all over, and within each sale is a real-time availability outlook.
Now, Groupon may be a better answer for planning trips further in advance, but it also offers some great deals for weekend adventures if you are willing to plan them a few weeks out. There are deals on deals to be found on Groupon — you just have to be willing to dig deep and scroll. The site has getaways to be had all across the globe, some spanning weeks, others a night or two. But there are some distinct difference with Groupon’s model that make the search a little harder (but mostly worth it).
There are two different types of deals you will come across when scrolling through the site; the differences won’t jump out at you unless you know what you are looking for. You will see many that advertise a per night price and others that advertise a flat rate.
Per night deals can be a little misleading; you click on the link thinking every night will be $149 a night (see bottom right deal above) but then you go to pick your dates and you see there are no weekend dates that come close to that rate. This is because Groupon is advertising the lowest standard rate available per night, more similar to what other travel sites promote. These deals are all based on demand. As demand climbs, so do prices, and it soon becomes tough to find a date to book because demand is higher on the weekends.
The other types of deals you will find on Groupon simply state a price, and normally a generic header with no specific hotel (see bottom left deal above). THESE are where you will get the biggest bang for your buck. There are always multiple options, normally ranging from one night to a few days with different room levels, days of the week options, and/or times of the year.
The price stated on the initial deal is the lowest price Groupon has established with the property, normally for the smallest option (ie: one night in a standard room,) and go up from there, proportionately. They secure deals by limiting how many of each can be bought, which helps the hotel book rooms, but not oversell at low prices. There are strict time limits on when deals must be purchased and some options will be grayed out because they have already sold out. But if you do find an option that works, there is some tricky language to watch for.
You will see stipulations on check-in days and times of the year, most likely making you pay slightly more to lock in a deal for arrivals on the weekend, or for stays during peak seasons. There are other nuances based on each individual deal, so be sure to read the fine print for each one!
If you plan to buy a getaway deal, call the hotel prior to buying the Groupon(s) to make sure they have availability for the dates you are looking to book. There are always strict purchase by and travel by dates, as well as any blackout dates to be aware of that the site posts, so be sure to look for those before buying as well!
Booking your weekend trip doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you do your homework. Finding the right sites can make all of the difference. The ones I’ve mentioned are just a few of your options out there, so be sure to look around before booking — it’s worth taking some time to make sure you’re getting the best rate out there! But don’t forget to double-check everything before you book!
With any third-party site, make sure you are 100% sure of the date you are booking for. It can be hard to change arrangements through a third-party if they have strict guidelines on cancellations and changes; they do not represent the hotels policies, so be aware of that before you book! Also, if you are like me, no matter where I book I always confirm my reservations, just to be sure I am all set. Take the two minutes to give the hotel a call a day or two before arrival to be positive all of your arrangements are perfect.
Do you have a favorite site you go to for booking travel? Have you had any horror stories you want other people to avoid? Or, do you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see me write about next? Let me know in the comments!
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