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.
2 of a 3 part series - click for Parts
In today’s self-service world,
the keys to significant travel savings are knowing where and how
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,
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,
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.
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
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
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.
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
Part 1 we look at the best way to
book rental cars online.
Part 3 we look at the best way to
book rental cars online.
13 Feb 2004, last update
28 Nov 2012
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