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Bob Cowen has flown over 1.5 million miles in the US and Canada and is now a frequent seminar speaker and 'travel trainer'.

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How Businesses should book hotel accommodation on the Internet

By guest writer Bob Cowen
 

 

These days, hotel room rates can be as variable as airfares.  Here's the best way to identify good rates at suitable hotels.

For more information and updates, visit Bob's website www.internettraveltips.com and join his free newsletter.

Part 2 of a 3 part series - click for Parts  One  Two  Three

 

 

In today’s self-service world, the keys to significant travel savings are knowing where and how to shop.

Web sites that began life catering to the leisure traveler (the airlines, Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity) now promote “one stop shopping” for small businesses. Their allure is ease of shopping, policy adherence, and reporting.

But are these benefits real? What about pricing, the convenience of the flights offered, the location of the hotels, and – perhaps most of all, the value of your time spent on their web site?

Hotel Rooms Vary in Price

Everyone realizes that airfares vary enormously. But did you know that huge price differences can often found for the same room in the same hotel for the same night?

Not only may the hotel itself offer the room at a dozen different rates direct to the public, but it then sells it at wholesale rates to other websites for them to also sell to you.  It might seem stupid, but often you can get a lower room rate quoted through an extra 'middleman' website than you can directly from the hotel's own website.

Is it best to book direct with the hotel site or with a general travel site

You have undoubtedly seen television advertisements for Hotels.com. That site is one of dozens of hotel consolidators that sell rooms at a significant discount from the hotel’s ‘rack’ or ‘door’ rate, but the discounts are often associated with very strict cancellation or change penalties, so be aware.

Many large hotel chains have been having second thoughts about selling their rooms through discounters, because they started losing too much direct business. And so, some of the chains now claim that the lowest prices are at their own web site. These claims are sometimes even backed up with a guarantee, but the guarantees are usually worded so as to make it difficult to qualify and collect any compensation if you can subsequently show you paid over the odds on the hotel’s own website. Their claim for lowest rate is sometimes self-evidently not completely correct, because such claims sometimes specifically exclude group discounts (AAA, AARP, etc.).

The Best Websites for You

When looking for hotels within the US, the best site for searching many hotel sites and consolidators is Travelaxe.  Travelaxe is a program that you download into your PC.  Input your destination and dates and it checks up to a dozen other web sites.

Searching can take 30 seconds to three minutes, but is well worth the time. Travelaxe consistently finds the lowest prices when looking for the best prices at a known hotel (versus the websites, like Priceline and Hotwire, that quote you a price, but don't tell you the name of the hotel).

If you're traveling somewhere for a convention, don't immediately accept the 'convention rate special' at the official hotels.  Travelaxe often finds lower rates than offered at official convention hotels.  And if the price is still too high, Travelaxe allows you to search for hotels next door or up to many miles away with its distance filter.

The mapping and filtering abilities of Travelaxe make it very powerful and easy to use. Once it has begun your search, select your ideal hotel and then select the “Hotel Location” tab to center the search. Then set a “distance filter” from that location to focus the search within your acceptable distance. You can also filter the hotels by “ratings.” At that point, sort the result by “best price.” The result is a listing (by total price) of the hotels within the desired distance from your target location.

Once you have made your reservation, it may be worthwhile checking again to see if the price has dropped. It is recommended that this be done at least once a week. Many of the web sites that Travelaxe checks have severe cancellation and change penalties. Be sure that you fully understand them.

Travelaxe is a shopping and a buying site. If the price is the same, it is recommended that you reserve your hotel via Travelaxe. There is no service fee and Travelaxe earns a small commission, thus keeping this very useful program free.

Summary

Rates for the identical hotel room can vary widely across different websites, and the hotel's own website - even if it guarantees the lowest price - is not always the best place to buy the room you need.

Because it automatically shops many different websites for you, we recommend Travelaxe as the best way to conveniently find good value accommodation.

Read more in Parts 1 & 3

In Part 1 we look at the best way to book rental cars online.

In Part 3 we look at the best way to book rental cars online.

 

Originally published 13 Feb 2004, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this copyrighted article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to Bob Cowen as original writer and link to www.internettraveltips.com.

 
 
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