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Author Topic: Online Travel Research  (Read 261 times)

steelmooch

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Online Travel Research
« on: September 27, 2017, 08:23:26 PM »
Hello, all...and thanks for your time and consideration. 

We love to travel via travel trailer, but there are times (such as when our camper is put away for the northeast winter) that we are traditional "hotel" travelers as well. 

I've been trying to do some online research for an upcoming trip, but run into some frustrating issues...and was hoping that members of the forum might be able to offer some advice. 

I've always used some of the major online "booking" sites, with varying degrees of success.  However, some of the ones that now offer the new "pay nothing up front - pay at the hotel" option seem to have ludicrously high prices.  Like "3 nights in a rural hostel with a community lavatory for $1400" high prices.  I understand that you ultimately pay for the convenience of "paying later", but that same lodging comes up as closer to $100/night on other sites. 

Anyone else experienced this?  Is this because of the "pay later" dynamic, or are "games" being played, and prices inflating exponentially, as fewer and fewer rooms are available? 

Additionally, say you're visiting a busy destination that "fills up" during the summer of 2019.  You might be looking for lodgings now and doing online searches for the summer of 2018, since most places don't book out 20 months in advance.  However, we're only 8 months from the summer of 2018, and many of the lodgings are already 100% booked...and the sites won't give you a price on an accommodation that's unavailable...meaning you can't research a price for your trip the following summer. 

Any shared experiences with this?  Especially with places that get truly busy and that "fill up" to capacity in nearby lodgings? 

Thanks and happy travels!  :)

SeilerBird

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 08:28:50 PM »
I always pay later at Motel 6's and rarely is it over $50 per night.
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JudyJB

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 02:10:28 AM »
Have you tried contacting hotels directly?  After a couple of bad experiences with booking companies, I always contact the hotel directly.  Often, it is cheaper and you get more benefits.  AND they might require a deposit, but generally the cancellation policy is better than the booking agencies. 
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FunSteak

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 08:09:50 AM »
Have you tried contacting hotels directly?  After a couple of bad experiences with booking companies, I always contact the hotel directly.  Often, it is cheaper and you get more benefits.  AND they might require a deposit, but generally the cancellation policy is better than the booking agencies.

This.

We travel a lot for both business and pleasure, and I've also found that joining the loyalty programs of the chains you frequent helps.  I usually find that booking direct with the hotel via the loyalty program's website very often gives me rates equivalent to or better than booking sites, and almost never requires paying up front.  In fact, the only times we've been charged a one-night deposit was during peak times, and they were almost always refundable within a certain time window.

Between us, we've joined the programs of nearly all the chains we use, including Hyatt Gold Passport, Hilton Honors, Holiday Inn Priority Club, Wyndham rewards, Choice Privileges and a few others that escape me at the moment. 

Each of them also accumulate points for free rooms, which we like to save for large cities or peak times to keep our costs low.  You even get priority check-in lines at many of the larger properties. 
JP & Karen
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vito55

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 09:03:12 AM »
There is another problem with some of the online booking sites: if you wish to cancel or cut your visit short, we have found that the online site claims you have to work with the hotel, while the hotel will say they cannot issue a refund because it is booked through the online site. Lately what I have done is use the online services to find a place I am interested in, seeing the rate, then contacting the hotel directly. Sometimes I beat the online rate, most times it is just matched.

And just as an aside, I admire your optimism in planning a vacation now for 2019, or even the summer of 2018. At my age I think it is optimistic to plan a vacation a month in advance!
Retired US Army; Honda Goldwing rider and former MSF Instructor, NRA Life Member

Tom

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 10:26:59 AM »
Twice a year (beginning of summer and around Thanksgiving/Christmas) we leave the coach, either at our S&B home in CA or on our RV lot in WY, and drive 2700 miles (1700 miles from WY) to spend time with family in OH. One reason we drive is because we have 2 small dogs in tow, making it difficult to fly. I also spent a career flying around the world, and have no desire to get on a plane.

Like our stays at RV parks, we don't make hotel/motel reservations. In the last 5 years we've found only one situation where we weren't able to walk in and get a hotel room; That day, there was a large annual event in town and all hotels were fully booked. The clerk said "go 20 minutes down the freeway and you'll find plenty of available rooms". Sure enough, that's what happened.

After checking in, Chris checks out the room, including removing the bed covers.

Bottom line, we don't use online booking sites. If we needed to reserve a room, we'd call the hotel directly.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 11:45:59 AM by Tom »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 10:37:12 AM »
I'm with FunStreak - that's how we usually do it. I sometimes use TripAdvisor to shop across multiple hotel chains, but we still use our Loyalty membership access if we have one for the chosen place. Rates are almost always as good or better.

Sometimes the booking sites can get you a good deal on a special promotion or a last minute booking, but I haven't found many of those.
Gary
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grashley

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 08:11:16 PM »
I book direct with the hotel, and have a loyalty card.  I have never had a problem. 

One interesting note:  On a recent trip, I found the "walk in" rates were $10 higher than the on line rates.  I asked for the wi-fi password, sat in the lobby with my laptop and made a reservation.  I saved $10, and the desk clerk much preferred this method as she did not have much writing.  She had my reservation within seconds of pressing "send".
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NewmanRacing

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Re: Online Travel Research
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2017, 10:21:09 AM »
I will use the booking sites for the reviews, narrow down my choice, and make a decision. Then I book directly with the hotel. Rare is the case a booking site has a better price than booking direct.

The exception is priceline express deals. Sometimes there are outstanding express deals. Sure they do not tell you the name of the hotel, but if you do a bit of comparative analysis and read between the lines you can almost always identify the actual hotel before buying. I was wrong once out of about 40 times, and still had a great stay!
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