Hello! I recently received a question on the topic of how to find the best price accommodation. It was submitted through the Jenny In Wanderland Website Question and Answer Forum. Definitely check out our interactive forum! You can ask questions and search for answers on travel-related topics.
The question prompted me to reexamine the steps I take when I am looking for an accommodation. After writing the answer, I decided to also share it here. I have expanded upon my answer so this post is more in depth. I personally have used this process throughout many years of travel and have found that it is very helpful in how to find the best price accommodation.
When I search for a hotel, there are many things I take into consideration, including price. I recommend to take a look at our article on How to Choose Accommodations
Steps I Take to Book the Best Priced Room
As far as where I look to find the best price, it depends. I realize that this is an ambiguous answer, but it is the truth. There are so many variables, such as the purpose of my stay, as well as the type of facility it is. I find that very small properties, that years ago you could only find by walking by, now have an online presence through third party sites. Some of those establishments cannot afford their own booking site, nor have the manpower required to manage online bookings. So yes, it really depends.
Usually, I go directly to the accommodation’s own website first. This gives me the opportunity to see all rooms offered because discount resellers do not always have access to the entire inventory available. After selecting my ideal room and corresponding price, I then look to see if I can find it cheaper. I have not found that one particular discount site is consistently cheaper than others, so I tend to choose 2-3 sites to compare. A great way to compare several sites at once is through a well known travel site. There you can see the prices side by side. They are all usually within a few dollars of each other. Therefore, for me, it comes down to reliability. Booking directly is most always a safe bet, or using a third party site with a proven track record.
Look Out for Perks Or Hidden Fees
Then, I compare any perks or fees attached to the booking. For example, if you book directly with the hotel, you may get an upgraded room. Or, if you use a booking site, breakfast may be included. To the contrast, a site may have hidden taxes or fees. Be sure to read the fine print. Sometimes things such as resort fees are disclosed in small print or after the fact. Costs such as these are often non-negotiable and can be encountered regardless of where you choose to book. Once I reconcile the prices and bonuses that best suit my needs, I then consider booking my room.
A cancellation policy is a really nice perk. If for some reason your dates or travel plans change, this allows you to easily shift, without losing all of your deposit. I do notice that cancelable reservations often cost a bit more than non-refundable ones. For me, I feel much more confidant knowing my options are open. This tends to be a deal breaker for me when considering how to find the best price accommodation.
When reading cancellation policies, be sure to be clear on the last date you can change your mind and still get a refund. I always mark this date in my calendar, along with the reservation details, and set an alert. Also note if it is a full refund or partial that is offered.
A Few Additional Tips
I have found that some hotels encourage direct bookings. These hotels usually offer a better, or comparable price, sometimes with with perks. A benefit to booking directly is joining a hotel club, which is usually free, and accumulating points. Points may be traded for perks such a free stays, upgrades, and more. Occasionally hotels have confusion upon arrival with third party booking sites, such as losing the reservation, or giving you a lower or different room category upon arrival. While I have encountered these issues, I have had many successful trips through third party sites.
I always check the reviews or to see if a third party company has complaints prior to booking. I also call or email the establishment after booking, regardless if I booked directly or not, to be sure my reservation is received and correct. Sometimes you will need to wait 24 hours for your reservation to be in the establishment’s system if you have booked through a reseller.
The type of room you choose usually has an effect on price. Check out our article, How To Choose A Room When Traveling, for additional suggestions, prior to booking.
Additionally, there are some third party sites that I have confidence in because they have been around a long time, and I use them frequently.
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