A little over a week ago, I suggested re-booking your room at the last minute to save money on hotel stays. Today I want to share another method… Using Hotwire to save on hotel rooms.
I’ve talked in the past about using Hotwire (and Priceline) to save money on rental cars, but it wasn’t until recently that I started using them to save on hotel rooms.
In case you’re not aware, Hotwire is a travel discounter that doesn’t let you know who you’re buying from up front though, unlike Priceline, they do disclose the price on their “Hot Deals” in advance. Priceline, in contrast, uses a bidding process to determine the price.
The main reason that I’ve used both Hotwire and Priceline for car rentals is that: (1) I can save a ton of money, and (2) I don’t really care who I’m renting from. Neither Hotwire nor Priceline will tell you who you’re renting from in advance but, for the most part, all of the rental counters at the airport are side-by-side and the cars are equivalent.
But for hotels, I’m a little more particular. Not just about brand, but also about location. For whatever reason, I just don’t like the black box of renting a hotel room without knowing which hotel you’re actually renting from. Well, with Hotwire, you can (in many cases) triangulate the hotel in question using information in the listing.
For starters, you should check out websites like BetterBidding that have compiled lists of hotels offering rooms from either Priceline or Hotwire (see, for example, here). When you search on Hotwire, you’ll be presented with a list of hotels (without names, but with star ratings and amenities).
Hint: At BetterBidding, scroll down to find your state and then click the link for “Hotwire – YourState“. Once inside that forum, click on the Hotwire hotel list, which should be pinned to the top.
Start by cross-referencing your hotel the most attractive offers to the list from BetterBidding (or wherever else you find one). Since Hotwire offers are usually broken down into relatively small geographic areas, you’ll often be able to narrow it down to 2-3 properties straightaway.
While you could then start comparing amenities (yes, this can be effective, but it’s also a bit tedious) my advice would be to click on the offer that interest you most. You’ll be presented with more details, a map, and (importantly) the TripAdvisor rating. Now you have another tidbit for differentiating between candidate properties.
A real-life example:
I needed a hotel for a one night stayover at the end of next week and I didn’t want to pay more than necessary. I checked Hotwire, found two different 4-star properties at $59/night. I checked the list at BetterBidding and found the names of the two hotels matching these descriptions — but which was which?
My next step was to click through and see the TripAdvisor rating of each. Bingo. One was 4.5 stars according TripAdvisor users and the other was 3.5 stars. I opened another window, hopped over to TripAdvisor, and checked the two properties from the BetterBidding list. Sure enough, one was 4.5 stars and the other was 3.5 stars.
As it turns out, the 4.5 star property had a better location and a preferable brand, so I booked it. And guess what? I was right. It was exactly the hotel that I thought it was. Nice. While this won’t work all of the time, you can significantly increase the odds of picking a hotel that you’ll love (or at least like) if you’re willing to do a little homework.
And best of all, you can save a ton of money. The “best available” rate for this hotel for the same night (booked through the hotel) was $109/night and the “advance purchase” (non-cancellable) rate was $92/night. If I had wanted to learn the name of the hotel first, I could’ve still booked through Hotwire, but this same hotel would’ve cost $87/night. All of these rates are significantly higher than the $59/night that I got with a bit of sleuthing.
Had I used Priceline, I wouldn’t have been able to narrow it down beyond the geographic region and star rating. Rather, given those two constraints (and my desired price) it would’ve been luck of the draw. That being said, if there’s only one property in that star/region combination, then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Here again, you’ll have to do your homework.