1. If you can wait, hold out on booking until absolutely necessary: Since we're the type that likes to check out the hotel rates on HotelTonight just for fun, we've spent a lot of time looking at the hotel options in different cities and how much they were going for. The other month in New York we noticed that room rates kept dropping throughout the day at a couple of hotels. The hotel options kept changing throughout the day too.
Just yesterday when we scoped out the NYC hotel offerings on the app, we found the following options at 12:45pm for the downtown neighborhood:
Standard Hotel: $260
Later at 4pm, these were the options for downtown:
Dream Downtown: $199
Ace Hotel: $169
Imagine booking the cheaper Flatiron hotel at $189 when if you had waited a few more hours you could have had the way hipper Ace hotel for even less?
While HotelTonight's CEO Sam Shank told us that "real-time pricing" is at play on HotelTonight (and that's why hotels like working with HT so much), he insisted that HotelTonight works really hard to make the best deals available that day at noon.
"We don't want to create a situation where they [users] have to check the app throughout the day. The whole point is get out of the app and get on with your life," he said.
Still, we say if your bottom line is a big concern you may want to hold off for at least a few hours after 12pm just to see what shakes out.
2. If you see a hotel you want, book it right away: Shank told us that just as prices can go down on HotelTonight, they can also go up. And availability is limited. For instance, using the hotels listed above, The Standard was available at 12:45pm but gone by 4pm. So if you see something you like, jump on it as it may not pop back up. And then you might be forced to stay at the Wyndham when you could have had a cooler Thompson hotel.
3. Start checking the app a few days before your stay: If you're like us and you know you will be needing a hotel room in a certain city but can't commit until the last-minute, start checking HotelTonight a few days before your stay. That way you'll have a good idea of the types of hotels they have available in the city you're visiting. Of course, as we've already showed you, availability changes on an hourly basis. Plus, some hotels are eager to offer deals during the week but not on the weekends, so the day of your stay will affect what hotel options are up for grabs as well. But no matter what hotel you end up at...
4. If you hate your room, let HotelTonight know: The app is diligent about monitoring customer satisfaction both internally and on social media. Like any new app, service, website or product born in these heady days of social media, HotelTonight is well aware of how public complaints on Facebook or Twitter can do major harm.
Earlier in the summer, there were a few instances where guests were walked from the hotel they booked using HotelTonight which Shank said was "very rare." These were publicly tweeted to @HotelTonight who worked with the users to get the situation sorted out. Shank said HotelTonight has been working hard since then to make sure that doesn't happen again. (Although, invariably it probably will.)
Another reason to take your complaints straight to HotelTonight is because essentially you've made the reservation through them and not the hotel. Your money at this point in the exchange has gone to HotelTonight and not the hotel you end up at. Of course, we'd hope that the hotel staff handles your problems with the attention and respect you deserve but just know that it's not like they can make a refund happen.
5. Load up on HotelTonight credits whenever you can: HotelTonight gives a $25 credit for first-times users as well as $25 credits for folks who invite their friends to use HotelTonight. Each time one of your friends uses the app, you get a $25 credit. The app also awards credits through various social media promotions on Twitter and Facebook. And those little credits can add up, especially when you're already booking rooms for $150 or less.
We'll have more on the types of deals we scored on HotelTonight tomorrow but if you've got your own signature tips for booking on HotelTonight, please do share it with the rest of us in comments below!