August 25, 2006
From time to time, I will post blog entries which are not directly related to the goal-free topic, but rather are related to the process I went through for pulling together the book. Topics may include getting published, blogging, or internet promotions. If there is a topic that is of particular interest to you, write me. Today I am talking about travel.
Back in 2003, I interviewed people for Goal-Free Living during a 12,000 mile road trip where I used wireless (cellular) internet access in my car to book rooms in 68 hotels ranging from 5-star luxury in Las Vegas to 1-star motels on the various highways. It was an interesting experience and it allowed me to try many different booking techniques. I have refined my approach over the years.
Here is my process for booking a hotel at the best rate
1. First research hotels on Orbitz (or whatever traditional booking system you prefer: Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, etc. I will use Orbitz as the example for simplicity).
2. Next, go to Hotwire.com to see if there is a nicely priced property in comparison to what you found on Orbitz. Hotwire does not show you the property name, but it does give you the price, the general location, star rating, and amenities. The prices on hotwire are sometimes as much as 40% off the best price you will find elsewhere. Unfortunately, the savings can be close to nothing. Yesterday, I booked a hotel in Denver. The best price on Orbitz was $86. I got it for $57 on Hotwire. That’s a 30% discount. Not bad.
3. But don’t stop here. Next, go to Priceline.com and offer a rate about 20% lower than the best price on Hotwire – using the same location and star rating. With Priceline YOU name the price for a given star ratings. You might want to check out bidding support sites for some help in your bidding (I don’t bother). With Priceline, I have found hotels for 60% off the Orbitz price. But don’t go too low, or your bid won’t be accepted and you won’t be able to re-bid the same star rating and location (for a period of time). I found that Priceline is consistently the least expensive option, if your bid is accepted.
4. If your bid is not accepted, you have a couple of options. You can go through this process again for a different location or star rating. Or you can just go back to Hotwire for the purchase.
5. Research Hotwire a bit further to get a clearer picture of which hotel you might get. Go back to Orbitz and enter the search criteria. Click on the “Expand search options” link and check off the amenities listed on the Hotwire property of interest. You should end up with a relatively short list (often only one or two properties) that match. This will give you a decent idea of which property you might get on Hotewire.com. Remember, Hotwire tends to give you mainly major chains like Marriott, Hilton, Radisson, Holiday Inn and the likes.
6. Unless you find a desirable property at a large discount on Hotwire, you may want to consider booking the tradition route.
7. But before booking on Orbitz, go to the hotel website for the chain. For example, if you are thinking of booking a Courtyard by Marriott, go to the Marriott website and search. If the price is the same (or better), I usually book through the chain website as they typically have better cancellation policies and more generous rewards programs. Be sure to see if a AAA discount applies. Always double check the cancellation policies.
8. Before making your final decision, you may want to check other websites, such as sidestep.com which claims to search over 100 travels sites with one click.
9. Finally, book your room and enjoy your stay!
Tips about Hotwire and Priceline
Caveats about Hotwire and Priceline
Although the process might sound complicated, it does not take much time. And it can save you a bundle. Do you have any other tips, tricks, or caveats?