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Hotel Booking Tips / Bidding Sites / Hotwire / HOWTO / BidFin / → All Tags
We had our mind on Thanksgiving Turkey which is why we screwed up the name of BidFin in the first incarnation of this post. Everything has now been corrected and all traces of BinFin have been changed. Sorry!
A few months ago we told you about a way to definitively determine which Hotwire hotel you were looking at - cracking the bidding site's opaque listings - by using a combination of TripAdvisor and forums like BetterBidding. The loophole in TripAdvisor that made the technique possible has since been closed, so it's back to just using forums and crossing your fingers. That's less than ideal.
Now a new web application dubbed BidFin is making its way through beta, promising to automatically render Hotwire transparent. The site takes your location and dates, runs them through Hotwire, and returns a result of prices plus the hotels that they match. There's a confidence level for each guess and usually it's "high confidence." Helpful!
Expedia Inc. has been on a bit of convergence spree recently. A few weeks ago our sister blog Jaunted reported on how the travel mega-company integrated Expedia and SeatGuru, and in the meantime they've also integrated TripAdvisor and Hotwire. That last part integration has the potential to be particuarly yummy, though not for the reasons Expedia intended (they thought customers would benefit from seeing TripAdvisor reviews on Hotwire - not so much).
Instead we're excited because the TripAdvisor/Hotwire integration may help Hotwire bidders crack the opaque site's hidden hotels. Hotwire has an interest in minimizing what a customer knows about the hotel being considered, lest they decide that they're not getting a deal and move on.
Customers have the opposite interest and try to figure out as much about the hotel as possible. The new TripAdvisor/Hotwire arrangement exposes so much data that many customers will be able to figure out exactly what hotel Hotwire is offering them, and will be able to accept or decline accordingly.
Tips / Hotel WiFi / Geek Hotels / Howto / → All Tags
Paying separately to connect multiple computers in our room to the WiFi network makes us want to do this.
When your Internet-dependent self is traveling with an Internet-dependent companion or two, there is absolutely nothing worse than realizing that a) you're in a hotel that charges for WiFi and b) you're in a hotel that charges every computer in your room that connects to the Internet for WiFi. The worst.
While we fancy ourselves hotel gurus who happen to know our way around the Internet, we would not call ourselves "tech experts." Not at all. And while we would normally occupy ourselves by complaining about the WiFi charges, it has come to our attention that there is a way around this fee-per-computer charge. Yes, if you play your techie cards right, you can usually turn your own Macbook into a WiFi hotspot that your traveling companions can connect to thereby avoiding forking over cash for every laptop you connect to the hotel's network.
We have to give Omni some credit--luring people inside their doors by wafting the scent of cocoa. The simplicity of this marketing ploy is what makes it genius...and delicious.
The Venezuelan concoction is served both hot and cold, spicy or mild and spiked or virgin with the Los Angeles and NYC locations creating their own recipes.
If you don't think you'll be stepping inside an Omni anytime soon, here's our cheat sheet for mixing the concoction at home.
Test Hotels / HOWTO / CitizenM / → All Tags
When we checked out some of the first guest reviews of the new CitizenM hotel in Amsterdam, we noticed a couple of the contributions came from guests who had seen the property a bit early -- they had gotten the chance to stay overnight as "test-sleepers" before the June grand opening.
So, in other words, the hotel hired people to act as bed testers and stay overnight for free.
Seriously? The greatest job ever, maybe? Our calling? Your calling?
After the jump: how those lucky few scored gigs as hotel "test-sleepers" -- and how you can, too.
The ghetto 4-button alarm clock with the red visible-from-space LCD display is on the way out, and the iPod-compatible iHome has taken its place on hotel nightstands everywhere.
So far, we've woken up next to these babies in both big-box hotel chains and boutique hotels alike. In fact, we even awarded it our Must-Have Hotel Amenity Award for 2007.
While it's great to be able to wake up to our iPods, frankly, the damn thing has a whole hell of a lot of buttons. Don't get us wrong -- we are young, tech-savvy folks and all -- but even we had to say a little prayer that the shiny little beast would function as planned the first few times we used it.
Thus, after many close encounters with hotel iHomes and a comfortably intimate relationship with the consumer version (they're a smidge different), we present to you: How to Successfully Set the Hotel Room's #%$@ing iHome Alarm Clock.
Some hotel iHome survival tips after the jump.
Last week we received a distress call from one of our friends who had just arrived after long cross-country flight in New York to the Six Columbus Hotel.
Our friend had actually booked the hotel after reading about it in our HotelChatter Reader Deals when Quikbook was offering 10% off two nights or more. He paid $360 a night for four nights in a queen-bed room.
Yet instead of being whisked away to his room to relax, our friend was pulled aside by the General Manager and over a complimentary drink at the bar, was told that the hotel did not have a room for him.
Naturally, our friend was shocked. Where was he going to go? How would he get there? The GM's only explanation for the lack of a room for our friend was this:
Sometimes people don't always check-out when you want them too.
Riiigghhht. That's really just hotel-speak for "We oversold our rooms tonight."
Over at About.com's Budget Travel site there's an excellent rundown on how to score a hotel deal through Priceline. The writer wanted to stay in downtown Indianapolis for a sporting event but didn't want to pay the $140 a night he was seeing on the usual booking sites. So he checked the message boards, went to Priceline, and scored a deal for $60.47 after fees and taxes. He doesn't say which hotel he scored, but judging by what's on the BiddingForTravel board, it was the Omni Severin or the downtown Hyatt Indianapolis.
We have had our own frequent success with this method, scoring cut-rate deals on leftover rooms at Hotel President in Kansas City, Millennium St. Louis, and the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C. We also managed a bargain all-inclusive deal in the Bahamas by visiting the message boards before hitting Hotwire. As we showed last year, it's even possible to score an under-$200 room in Manhattan if you do it right.
If you're the type that doesn't mind paying list price for the satisfaction of knowing which hotel you're sleeping in for the night, then never mind. But if the general location and star level matter more than which chain's logo is on the building, you can save a bundle this way.
Tokyo Dome Hotel Lobby
Ever wonder how the guy next to you gets champagne on the house when you've been downgraded to the broom closet? Getting hotel upgrades and perks isn't rocket science--in fact it's generally pretty intuitive-- but we're not sure most travelers take full advantage of what's available. We caught up with Becky Veith, travel agent extraordinaire, to see what she knew about workin' a hotel for perks.
Tips / Hotel Upgrades / Howto / Nick Trend / → All Tags
We all want to get the best hotel room possible when we travel, and the UK Telegraph just put out an article with some handy tips on making sure your hotel stay is at least as good as you've hoped for.
Savvy traveler Nick Trend divides his tips into two parts: looking for the best room, and getting the best room when you actually book or check in. And like anything else in this world, you have to ask for you what you want.
Before you book, Trend suggests, you should have a chat to the hotelier (or reservations agent) about the merits of each kind of room. You should also avoid rooms near the kitchen (they're noisy, even if room service does arrive faster) and beware of rooms with a view if that side of the hotel will be on a busy (read noisy) street.
Once you have worked out which room or room category is the best for you, and you've booked it, Trend suggests getting something in writing from the hotel about what you've agreed on. Then when you arrive at the hotel--early, if possible--discuss the room some more with the receptionist, both to make sure you're getting what you asked for and in case there's any chance of an upgrade.
And if you don't like it, complain about it. But straight away, before you've started messing it up.
· Getting the Best Hotel Room [Telegraph]
· Best Odds For a $20 Room Upgrade in Vegas [HotelChatter]
Viva Vegas / Hotel Upgrades / Tips / Howto / → All Tags
Frequent travelers who live by the maxim, "If you don't ask, you don't get" swear by the $20 room upgrade move. It works like this: when checking in to your ho-hum standard room, you casually slip an extra 20 bucks to the front desk clerk and ask if there's any chance of a "complimentary upgrade." In most cases, one of three things will happen. Either nothing (and you keep your $20), an official upsell at official prices (usually a poor value), or you score and get a much nicer room.
Judging by this site devoted to the topic called FrontDeskTip.com, your odds of $20 upgrade success in Las Vegas are far greater than they are at the gambling tables. As in a 74 percent success rate overall.
Some hotels have too limited a sample to really judge, but a few notable ones score an above-average success rate on a good sampling. These include the Venetian (pictured here), Wynn, Mirage, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay.
As the site reminds you, if you're going to post about your successful upgrade, please don't mention who specifically helped you out. Many front desk managers seem to have a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy on spontaneous upgrades (whether the money goes into the till or into a pocket), but naming names can get someone in hot water.
Howto / Room Comps / Tips / Las Vegas Hotels / → All Tags
A tipster who probably read our feature article, How to Get a Comped Hotel Room in Las Vegas, offers up a new place to hit up that we hadn't considered before. Laban writes:
I was a small time player for the last few days at the Plaza Hotel and Casino downtown. I started with a mere $20 initial bet [on the roulette table] and spent 2-3 hours a day going up and down. After initially doing well I probably sent most of the time with only about $10-20 dollars on the table per spin. For this small effort I was comp'd a buffet meal, a $20 voucher for the gift shop and got the impression that if I was staying longer that I might have been able to get more.
The Plaza Hotel, while less desirable than the Bellagio, is off the strip and as with most hotels off the strip and with less foot traffic, the chances of getting comps are greater because they want you to stay there longer and play/spend/lose more money. However, is a comped room really worth a chance of sleeping with bed bugs? It's up to you.
· How to Get a Comped Hotel Room in Las Vegas [HotelChatter]