In fact, these tips and tricks are so good that we probably shouldn’t share them, especially when they’re offered at incredibly low prices.
Our trip started in Chicago, where we began our journey on Route 66. Over the next four months, we traveled through 15 states and reached Glacier National Park in Montana.
For those who don’t know: We travel in pairs. Audrey is a little germophobe who is obsessed with cleaning. Besides travelling, his passions are vacuuming and washing clothes. Harry, on the other hand, looks for the best value for money and never wants to pay too much for anything.
The combination of these two personalities can make buying good cheap hotels a real challenge. Don’t worry about it. Our method allowed us to meet both of our needs by traveling to the U.S. for about $50-$60 a night.
While most travelers are satisfied with paying the lowest price on a travel booking site, that’s not enough for us. In general, the programs we implemented paid between 20% and 30% less than the best available rate.
The tips we are going to share are mainly for travel to the United States. However, there’s a good chance these tips will work internationally, so give them a try.
For many travelers, the suggestion to use Priceline reminds them of the Name Your Price feature. Although we’ve used it a few times successfully and a few times unsuccessfully, it seems to be more of a burden than anything else.
Also, the actual discount never seems to be as big as advertised – symbolically, we’re not big fans of Name Your Price. On the other hand, we are big fans of the Priceline Price Tags feature.
If you’ve never used Priceline before, don’t worry, it’s very easy to use. Just go to Priceline.com and click on Price Breakdown Search. You must then fill in the city and the dates of arrival and departure.
Priceline will then present various Pricebreakers offers. Each transaction will consist of three properties. In this screen, you can filter by amenities such as free breakfast, pool, free parking, fitness center, etc. Moreover, you can even filter on specific areas.
Once you select one of the Pricebreakers offers, Priceline will choose one of the three hotels on your behalf.
Price list to be used
Once we’ve chosen a city and a date, we usually filter our results by free parking. We then sort the results from lowest to highest price. Finally, we will analyze the valuation of each Pricebreakers transaction.
For example, we never stay at a hotel (on Priceline) that has less than 8.0 reviews. When we sort the results by price, we find the first Pricebreakers case in which all three premises have a score of 8.0 or higher.
Example of circuit breaker use
Let’s take the example below. There are three price break offers, one for $44 and two for $47. The first two Pricebreakers offers are for hotels with a rating lower than 8.0. The third offer includes all hotels with a score of 8.0 or higher.
Therefore, we would choose option number three because it is the cheapest and all three hotels meet our 8.0 requirements. It is also possible to get a hotel with a score of 9.6. While it would be nice to get one of the more expensive hotels, that doesn’t happen very often. But it is possible.
How much did we save by using the price lists
Let’s say we went for the third price of $47. We’ll probably go with the cheapest option, La Quinta Inn & Suites, for $64 (see the green font?). Now let’s compare the best rates available on other popular travel booking sites:
Real savings from use of price breakers
Let’s do the math.
65-$47 = $18 in savings
18÷65 = 28% discount
In other words: Priceline’s filters saved us $18, or 28% off the best available price.
Budget Advice : Look out for special commercial promotions. After we made our reservation at Pricebreakers, Priceline sent us an email with a 10% discount coupon that we could use for our next stay at Pricebreakers. In the example above, this would bring our savings to about $23, a reduction of about 35%.
Last minute booking
Try to book as close to the reservation date as possible. Even greater discounts are available for last minute bookings. However, problems may arise if you book on the day of arrival.
For example, it can take up to 8 hours for a request to go through the system. We heard a horror story from a hotel employee who had a client who had made reservations for the same day at Pricebreakers. (Funny enough, we heard this story while we were waiting for a reservation for the same day). Fortunately, we only had to wait 45 minutes.
Apparently it took about 8 hours to go through the system. The guest had to wait in the lobby for the hotel to process the reservation made by Pricebreakers.
Another interesting aspect of using Pricebreakers is that sometimes you can book a room at the best of three hotels. When this happens, it feels like winning the lottery.
Most travelers who use TripAdvisor use it primarily to find reviews of hotels and restaurants. But did you know that there are homes with special offers?
The next time you visit Tripadvisor.com and search for a hotel, try filtering the results to show only hotels with special offers. The Transactions section is located at the top left, directly below the overview map.
We used this feature on our trip across America and got a very nice hotel for 50% less than the best available price. In this case, the hotel had a nice outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, elegant rooms and room service.
Here’s another example. We went to Tripadvisor.com and chose Branson, Missouri, a popular vacation destination in the Midwest. Then we picked a few random dates to see what’s currently available, which are listed below.
As you can see, that’s a lot, especially for the $25 gift card promotions. When you consider that many Best Western hotels cost around $75 a night, that’s a 33% discount!
Many employees of companies are unaware that special discount programs exist for employees associated with their company. If you have never taken advantage of these travel discounts, you may be missing out. Find out if your company has an employee discount program.
For example, one of the employee discount programs to which we have access is the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts program. Basically, the discount offers up to 20% off the best available price.
It was often our last resort when we couldn’t find anything nicer. Still, it was often convenient, as Wyndham Hotel Corporation offers many hotel chains, including Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Microtel Inn & Suites (one of our favorites), Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, TRYP, Wingate, and, of course, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.
The best part is that when you use the discount, you also get points that you can use for free nights. Double whammy!
Keep in mind that many of the discounts offered by employee discount programs (EDPs) are often terrible. In many cases, booking through an employee discount program is more expensive than simply booking through your favorite travel booking site. For example, rental car prices are exorbitantly high if you book through the employee discount program – it’s probably best to book through Discover Cars, as we did.
Budget Advice : It’s worth checking to see if the company you work for has an employee discount program, as you can get access to some great deals. At the time we were writing this article, we decided to do some analysis and discovered that a new hotel chain had recently joined the scene. We now have an opportunity to save up to 30% at Great Wolf Lodge.
Always check for special offers, packages or (direct) discounts before finalizing your reservation through a travel booking site. In general, chain hotels and motels do not offer this type of service. But if you want to stay at an unmarked house, chances are they will.
For example, if you want to book a hotel room online at the best available rate, you will pay $422 ($366 + $56 tax).
Now go to the hotel’s website and see if they have any offers. Of course, there is also a section on the homepage dedicated to special offers and packages. See below.
We stayed at the Encanto de Las Cruces hotel while visiting White Sands National Park!
Clicking on the Promotions and Packages link will take you to a page with many offers. One is that if you stay two nights, you get the third night free. See below.
If you book on the hotel’s website (using the promo code), your stay will cost $286 with tax (see below). Compared to the previous booking of $422, this means a savings of $136, or just over 30%!
To clarify: Please check the price on the website of the unbranded accommodation before you finalise your booking. Online offers or packages may be available for direct bookings.
Do you have any tips that you use to find good cheap hotels or other accommodation offers? Did you get a lot of results with the above tips? Share your travel habits in the comments below.
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