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Hotels and Air Travel - Find Great Deals
Hotels are the essential of every vacation and account for the majority of the overall vacation expense. Searching for the best rates, for hotels, rental cars and flights has gotten both easier and more complicated with the Internet. The myriad of services available can at first be overwhelming. Help is here - we will guide you through five top sites, detail the industries that they serve and the different search options they offer on their websites.
In the dizzying array of Internet info, there is perhaps too much information. How to make sense of all of this for best managing the family travel expense? Journey with us as we explore the best of the best, detail what industries they service, how they operate (as a merchant or simply as a referral service) and stay tuned with us to the very end and find out the best day to book your reservations.
- Search-Fares.com which includes details about HotelsCombined.com
Checking in at the Front Desk of the Hotel
Last Minute Deals
Searching for the Best Value is a Chore that Can Save You Time and Money
Your hotel room is simply a stop over, a short visit, often denoted more by the morning shower routine and sleep than a real encounter. Yet, just the shower routine with the working television, a clean bathroom, fresh linens and a comfortable temperature all remain memorable experiences. All of us can easily a disaster of a room, a disaster of the water temperature in the shower and so on. Searching for the best value is not an exercise - it is a chore that can save you time and money and hopefully result in a favorable experience. Some of my best hotel experiences are memorable only because the room was secondary. Everything about the stay was memorable and the room was simply comfortable with no objections. That is what a vacation should be - no confusion at check in, no cold showers, everything as it should be - simply streamline, clean and comfortable.
The key to shopping according to the mantra of GmaGoldie is to "shop early". This is the best way to get the best deals. Life doesn't always afford us this opportunity and the opportunities for a vacation sometimes surprise us. If you are planning at the last minute - check out the links to the right here - these are specific to the last minute travel planning. They may be savings IF occupancies is not high. Take special care on Saturday nights - this is the most popular and can be the most daunting in finding a room. Many popular hotels are now requiring a two night minimum stay if Saturday is involved so plan accordingly.
ALWAYS Ask the Key Questions - Local Events is Number One
Always, always ask what events are going on in the area. This is critical. IF it is the largest event of the year and every movement for you and your family is jumbled with the congestion of the conference, you may wish to reconsider. Know the venues, know the events. IF your hotel has a concierge, take the time to introduce yourself and have him/her make your reservations. They are experts in the area, have local connections and can save you both time and money. The price is incidental for the value of your vacation - one of the most frugal investments you could ever make.
Once while planning a girls trip, the three young and single girls choose Whistler. We narrowed it down to two possible dates. Not knowing anything about the community, I phoned asked about the local events. One weekend was literally gay weekend. This would have been a disastrous stay for three straight girls! Moral of the story, always, always know what is happening as large events in your city of destination.
Know the Cancellation Policy - Your Wallet Needs to Know
Another always, is to know the cancellation policy. Some hotels allow a 24 full refund, some hotels do not - know beforehand. Set up a reminder for the time frame so that you are not caught off guard. One travel site that has no cancellation fees is Orbitz.com
You Can Save with Last Minute - Literally Last Minute Reservations
Last minute shopping may mean checking back on a regular basis. Last minute means last minute - not late or delay - preplanned and checked out thoroughly.
When I stayed in Naples, I oh, so badly wanted to stay at a 5 star hotel without the the price tag. I succeeded by phoning each and every day.
By some miracle, one day of my trip was very low occupancy and I had a $400 room for $99! The parking and other fees were $70 but still I was quite please with myself.
Last minute hotel hopping can have some benefits but you must be brave and understand the consequences.
Word to the wise: Never expect a deal on a weekend - this is prime time even for non-prime real estate.
“The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a great refuge from home life.”
~George Bernard Shaw (Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950)
“Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.”
~Al Gore (US American Vice President under Bill Clinton (1993-2001). b.1948)
“Really, travel is not what it used to be, ... At the end of an airplane trip, everyone wants to stay at a nice hotel.”
KAYAK.com - The Difference
- Originally the source for travel agents and industry professionals.
- Not the merchant - simply a gateway no different than a search engine - the merchant is the hotel operator.
- Mobile applications for searching and reserving rooms.
- Does not use the data for behavioral advertising purposes, nor does it pass along anonymous cookie information to third parties.
- Comparison shopping with one click, one quick view.
KAYAK.com has become my favorite travel website to start my travel research. The ease of use on the personal computer is simple and very direct. I have not tried the mobile applications. If the free mobile apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and other platforms work as well as their website, this site is simply 5 stars. One stop shopping for hundreds of travel sites all at once. KAYAK search tools compare information very quickly and deliver 3-5 different options. When hotels are not available they disappear but there is a button you can hit to view all - this allows you to see what hotels are completely booked or simply not participating at that point in time.
Heads up - When I was booking a reservation on KAYAK over a period of several days, I noticed hotels would disappear - this surprised me initially. Then I realized the ones which were fully booked had been removed. There is a check box where you can retrieve all the hotels - even the ones without rooms.
KAYAK.com Compare Sites in Different Windows
KAYAK goes so far as to allow you to compare different sites in different windows. if you click this tiny box, multiple windows for the sites that you choose will automatically be opened. Talk about the ultimate power of the search engine - all at your fingertips.
KAYAK.com Price Alert
Know the dates and the location of your travel destination? Set up a price alert to help you find your hotel or your flight. KAYAK even asks for your airport so all the details are set. Have a Facebook account - you can register simply with that login. Everything at your fingertips for ease of information and decision making.
More KAYAK information from KAYAK.com
"OK, now you’re wondering how we make money. It’s all advertising. Just like you can watch (most) TV shows for free, you can use KAYAK all you want, free.
Today we’re the world’s largest travel search site. You might ask, "So what?" Well, maybe we are a bit proud of that fact. Since we started KAYAK in 2004 we’ve been working pretty hard to make travel planning better, and we’re still toiling away to create new tools and to make our search faster, more relevant and easier to use."
Brian Harniman, Kayak’s vice president of marketing, says Kayak’s aim in these assisted bookings is to make “the buying experience fast, clear and uncluttered, like the core search app.”
Kayak and Google Maps API
KAYAK.com Industries They Service
Hotel Comparisons Include:
- The actual hotel direct (typically you will save a couple of dollars on their site directly)
- Many others
What Sets KAYAK Apart?
Hotel comparisons - showing the prices of the actual hotel site direct, Hotels.com, Priceline.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com and Cheaptickets.com and more!
For hotels, Kayak provides the taxes and fees (which can add up very quickly!) and also a quick way to share with an email of the comparisons found.
KAYAK's Commitment to the Mobile Apps
If the mobile app for KAYAK works as well as the core search engine developed by KAYAK, the results should be outstanding. What we must keep in mind, KAYAK started out servicing the industry professionals not the end consumer. Their launch into the consumer market takes them to the head of the class because of their ability to leap frog with their professional customer base. KAYAK's commitment to technology and the global marketplace is showcased in having local websites in eleven countries. Back in January 2010, KAYAK was already installed on 2.5 million handsets.
KAYAK's Private Sale Offerings
In January 2010, KAYAK joined the ranks of such premier sites as Jetsetter.com by offering "private sales" to registered customers for a limited period of time. The only caveat is you must be registered. The registration is free.
Essentially, private sale is an exclusive offering by only KAYAK (Jetsetter.com has a similar offering also) for hotels and vacations.
KAYAK's plan is to eventually launch the private sale features into the consumer world which has industry anayst's predicting that KAYAK will overturn "the travel-metasearch playbook". A leader in their and an innovator too make this website worth searching and taking note for future reference to see exactly how they change the travel industry.
When searching for hotels, check out the filter settings. From the number of stars to the specific city. For myself, I like seeing the surrounding hotel prices but rarely stay anywhere but right in the center of the action. However, having stated that fact, I do like to know the differences. There is always a cost reward correlation. Knowing the dollar differences is critical. The largest the city, the larger the dollar differentials. Remember, you will be adding travel time to your stay - so you are paying for the distance - just in another manner.
Hotels.com Industries They Serve
What sets Hotels.com Apart?
- You book on the hotel site.
- 24 Hour Call Center - Personal service - an option for help and to request someone to phone you is available - one click a way.
- Simple scroll through room options
- Welcome Rewards Loyalty Program
- Price Match Guarantee
- Last Minute Deals
Hotels.com Video Commercial - Claymation
Hotels.com is one of the world's premier websites for searching hotel review and finding the best deals. For hotels.com you pay at the hotel, not on their website. Hotels.com does not charge a booking fee. Hotels.com website details that your hotel reservation is "secure, so you can reserve your hotel with confidence." With more than 100,000 hotels worldwide and dozens of hotel reviews, you can see first hand where you are traveling to.
Old Logo - Trial Logo - New Logo in Red
Seeing the transition of logos I always find fascinating. Shown above is Hotel.com's old logo and their new logo in black. The option they finally choose was the new logo in red - check out their website for the new red logo. Important note: the website that provided the two logos recommended not using the black logo - and they took their suggestion. In the new logo, you will note the inference to the choice with the "up and down triangles" being used as visual reminder that their website allows you to simply scroll through your choices.
Their star rating choice is a radio-stat rather than a fixed star choice or drop down menu. Another filter is the minimum and maximum dollars amount. I love their location filter so you can detail the miles you want to be from a particular landmark - a fantastic convenience for a large city destination - a must for Chicago, NY or Los Angeles.
Personal Service - One Click to Have Them Call You
You don't see this kind of service every day. One click and someone from Hotels.com will phone you and assist you with your hotel reservation.
Scroll Through Room Type
When booking a hotel reservation on line on Hotels.com if you scroll down you will see all the options for different types of rooms. They start from the lowest price and the simplest to greater amenities and higher price tag. If you are a breakfast person, check out the possibilities from none to continental to even a full breakfast included right in the hotel price.
- Hotels.com - Hotel rooms with reviews. Discounts and Deals on 85,000 hotels worldwide
Choose from luxury to cheap, B&B to 5 star hotels. Read reviews, detailed descriptions, maps and quality photos. Book today and save with our Price Match Guarantee.
Expedia Industries They Serve
Expedia - What Sets Them Apart
- Trend Tracker - Compare historical price and weather trends to allow you to forecast the best value on your vacation (primarily hotel and flights).
Expedia.com allows us to research, plan and purchase - flights, hotels, cars, cruises and many other in-destination services. With its partners it offers one of the broadest selections of travel products on the world wide web. Expedia.com has a North American Web site and several localized versions throughout Europe and Asia. What sets Expedia.com apart from its competition is its Trend Tracker.
Trend Tracker lets you
evaluate the least expensive hotel and flight prices for the time you
want to travel. Compare historical price and weather trends to get the
best value on both your hotel and flight bookings.
The best rates for airfare and hotels
2-year historical data showing:
- Roundtrip airfares to your destination
- Hotel rates at your destination
The best times of year to travel
- Temperature and rainfall averages
- Seasonal weather tips
You pick from our list of top destinations, then Trend Tracker shows you the least expensive times to go."
- Expedia Travel: Vacations, Cheap Flights, Airline Tickets & Airfares
Plan a trip, book cheap airfares, purchase airline tickets, make hotel reservations, and find vacation packages, car rental & cruise deals at the travel agency rated #1 in customer satisfaction.
Priceline - Shatner Fired (Shatner and Nimoy)
Priceline Industries They Serve
What Sets Priceline Apart?
Own Price® service - their bid system for pricing allowing the Internet users to bid on the price - name your own price.
Priceline.comis much different from their competition. Perhaps most similar in format to eBay's auction system. Priceline.com prides itself upon no booking fees for "flights and half price hotels".Priceline.com does not use coupon codes or promotion codes. Touted as saving up to 50% off of other comparable sites, this website let's you be in charge, set the price and win with potentially big savings.
"Priceline's Name Your Own Price ® reservation service is different from fixed-price travel websites. With Priceline's Name Your Own Price ® reservation service, the exact hotel is shown only after purchase. According to Priceline.com, over the past 12 months, a substantial percentage of accepted offers have resulted in savings of up to 50% in comparison to the lowest published rates on other leading online travel sites for the same itinerary. Priceline's Name Your Own Price ® bid reservation system is different from other online travel sites. See Winning Hotel bids from Priceline.com."
Priceline.com offers over 60,000 hotels from around the world. Simply select your exact hotel and price - or - Name Your Own Price® Priceline bid and save even more! Priceline's Best Price and Quality Guarantee, you can be sure you're getting the lowest rate at top-notch hotels - even at the last minute!
History of Priceline.com
In 1999, following an IPO, the online travel site's stock
surged before the company had earned a cent in profit.
After the dot-com bubble burst, Priceline.com lost "more than 99% of its value,
falling from a high of $990 in April 1999 to a low of $6.36 in December
See full article from DailyFinance: Dailyfinance.com
Tips on Bidding and Winning Big with Priceline.com
Need some tips on how to bid with Priceline.com? Check out the links below, where experienced travelers and Priceline.com bidders offer some great insights often with step by step instructions.
Priceline.com gives leisure travelers the inside track to the best travel deals and discounts around. With our exclusive deal search technology and negotiating power, priceline consistently delivers more ways to save on discount airline tickets, chea
Search-Fares.com Industries They Cover
- Compares multiple websites from Travelocity, Expedia.com, Hotels.com,etc...
- Google Map
Search-Fares.com allows you to choose which sites you wish to review. Each will open in a different window similar to KAYAK.com. What is great about Search-Fares.com is they include other websites such as BookingBuddy.com, CheapOStay.com, Escape Wizard and Sidestep.com, etc... Similar to KAYAK.com you choose what websites you wish to review and Search-Fares.com will open that site for you in a separate window. The day I searched their site, I was offered 14 different sites to search. With Search-Fares.com you are in the driver seat, you choose which sites you wish to open, Search-Fares.com searches the web and retrieves that site for you. You simply enter your search data once and a new window will be generated automatically for you.
If you scroll down a little on your screen you will have a link to another website that is a hotel search engine that combines all hotel deals, from all major travel websites into one free, quick and easy search called HotelsCombined.com
Who is HotelsCombined.com?
A group of digital business, marketing and technology experts, with many years of online travel experience. Established in 2005 to become the world’s largest hotel search engine.
Instantly compare hotel details, rates, availability and taxes from such websites as Hotels.com, Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Booking.com (and many more) all in one set of search results.
On their website, HotelsCombined.com details that thy are "a socially responsible company and love giving back to the community. We currently offer rebates to students, teachers and conference attendees we actively support major charities; and we're a carbon neutral environmentally friendly organization."
HotelsCombined.com Google Map
A nice feature of HotelsCombined.com is the Google map showing the exact location of each hotel.
- Compare Hotel Prices - Best Hotel Deals Guaranteed
Hotels Combined is a price comparison service for hotels. We search all major accommodation websites and compare rates. We also provide hotel information, reviews and maps. We find you the best hotel deals guaranteed!
Shop for Flight Deals on Tuesday Video
Exclusive Deal Direct - Email Alerts
Planning ahead can save you big dollars. Researching and signing up for e-mail alerts for your topics of choice and for new hotel reviews is very helpful. The best deals are packages that combine the services you need all together. Combine flights, car rental with hotels and you have a winning combination to save big. Do sign up for the hotel's newsletter - review the new package offerings. More than likely a great combination will be offered savings you substantial dollars on the hotel and the amenities you and your family desire. When signing up for the email alerts, don't forget Google alerts for your destination city. Know the news and events of the area. Speak with the hotel concierge for even more great ideas for your trip. If shopping for air faire too - check this out:
Tuesday is the Best Day to Shop
"Shop for airfare on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM ET. This is generally the time when you will find the maximum number of cheap seats available. Many of these deals disappear by Thursday, so if you wait to shop until the weekend, you might miss your chance." Check out the video to the right for more details.
Take Our Poll - Share Your Story
Favorite Place to Research Hotel Prices and Availability?
Find Cheap Hotels - Hotel Finder
Five great sites to give you the travel edge for finding great deals on hotels. From the comparisons on KAYAK to the price bidding on Priceline.com, the world wide web offers something for everyone. Do your homework, research the area, research the hotel, know the events in the area for the days you will be staying there. Also, ask about events for that month. If your schedule is flexible and there are free festivals, that might offer a great opportunity for you and your family. Or if you are a loner, it might offer an opportunity to stay away during the high demand time frames. Whatever your choice, enjoy!
Travel Quotes from Famous People
"Travel is very subjective. What one person loves, another loathes."
"Whoever would have guessed that in the land of cheap sausages and mashed potatoes there could be such a change which would actually bring the French from Paris every weekend to invade Britain en masse to eat great food and drink great wine. "
"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on it's vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed, for our safety, to it's security and peace. Preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft. "
Adlai E. Stevenson
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Travel smartly, always do your research early and thoroughly. There are even mobile apps now that puts the information right in the palm of your hand.
Finding the best deals on hotels and flights can save you and your family a fortune.