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Hotel Room Alerts / Hotel Booking Tips / Hotel Booking Sites / Hotel Technology / Hotel News / → All Tags
What do you do when the hotel you want to stay in is sold-out? You probably exhaust all the options you can--like hitting up every booking site known to man, constantly checking the hotel's own website and perhaps even begging the front desk to try and find you a room. But you can stop all of that busy work, thanks to Hotel Room Alerts.
This new service will send you both a text and an email alert as soon as availability opens up at the hotel you want. No refreshing, no plugging in dates over and over, and best of all, no begging.
The site is linked up to Hotels.com so if the hotel you're looking at is listed on Hotels.com then you'll be able to get the room alert. Once you get the notification, you'll have a direct link into the hotel's listing on Hotels.com to book away.
The notification system works not just for sold-out hotels but also for sold-out room categories. Say you want a room with double beds but those are sold-out. Sign up with Hotel Room Alerts to get notified when a double-bed opens up again.
Keep reading to see what the alerts look like
The other month, a writer on our sister site VegasChatter ran into a perfect storm of check-in problems at a Vegas hotel, specifically dealing with the hotel's credit card and deposit policy. The frustrating story prompted us to put together some helpful reminders about paying for a hotel room. We're guessing most of you already knew these tips but a little refresher list can't hurt.
1. Find out exactly what the hotel's cancellation window is. Before you click the "BOOK NOW" button on a hotel's reservations site, be sure to read the hotel's cancellation policies extremely carefully. Almost all hotels have some sort of cancellation policy but it varies wildly. Usually, a hotel will want 24 hours notice before it cancels your reservation without charging you. But some require 48 or 72 hours while others would like a week's notice or more. (This is especially true during peak seasons.) If you're booking through a third-party website, they may have a different policy from the hotel, so be sure to read that too.
2. Find out exactly how much the hotel will "authorize" your credit card for. Just below the cancellation policy is where the hotel will also tell you what it will authorize, or charge, your credit card for. Sometimes, a hotel will charge 50 percent of the stay to your credit card at booking and then the other half when you arrive at the hotel. If it's a special "advance" deal where you get a lower rate than usual, the hotel will charge you all of the rate up front with no refunds allowed. Other hotels will charge nothing until you check-out of the hotel. Some hotels will also charge you a $100 deposit for incidentals, per day, when you check-in. This is crazy because you've just checked-in, how can you be charged for incidentals? And how can they charge you for incidentals you won't even use? Don't worry, the charge will be taken off your account once you check-out. So long as you haven't bought any incidentals during your stay.
HotelTonight has consistently been one of our must-have apps for travel, especially for last-minute folks like us who hate overpaying for a hotel room. But now HotelTonight is expanding their booking function to include HighRoller Suites in addition to the regular ole' guestrooms. And these are serious suites, not just a room with a sleeper sofa. We're talking penthouse and presidential suites for a lot less than you would pay if you just walked into the hotel (but you know, still a lot more than $200 a night.)
The HighRoller option is only available in Los Angeles, New York and of course, Las Vegas. But more cities are expected to roll out HighRoller suites soon. Here are some of the suites you may find on HT:
UPDATE 7.23.11: The recommend bid of $190 for The Nolitan Hotel was denied. Back to square one we guess.
Being hotel nerds determined to get the best deal on our hotel rooms, we've been known to get a little obsessive with all the hotel booking sites out there. We once rounded up our 5 favorite booking sites to use and we're not lying when we say we usually consult all of those sites before booking a hotel room. And now we'll be adding one more into the mix--Stayful.com.
Stayful.com was just announced last week as a new booking site for independent boutique hotels, and not for every random chain hotel brand under the sun as you often see on most booking sites. But Stayful is not as wide-open as other booking sites. For starters, the site is in beta right now and is invite-only. And it's also only offering hotels in San Francisco and New York. So if you were looking to book that Chicago getaway, you'll just have to sit tight.
But Stayful does have one cool feature that most other sites don't usually have--"Bid or Book It Now." As the name suggests, you can search hotel rooms and either bid a lower price than what's listed or book it now and get the best available rate. If you're unsure about what to bid (and perhaps to prevent people from bidding too low), Stayful gives guests "recommended bids" which are rates that their site's algorithm believes the hotel is most likely to accept. Aha, finally some guidance in the hotel room bidding realm. That said, you can enter your own bid but you can only enter one bid per hotel every 24 hours.
Something that's become pretty clear over the past few years: People like to book hotel stays through third-party sites.
There's a bazillion out there, from classics like Hotels.com and Expedia to the new and savvy PointsHound and Rocketmiles that really help you rack up the rewards. As a result of this ever-growing trend, we wonder where that leaves individual hotel websites. Does anyone really use them?
From the hotel's perspective, having a website is essential for, if nothing else, searchability and stature. In this age, if something doesn't have a website, it doesn't exist. But, for the consumer, what's the take away? A few photos? Mumbo-jumbo PR banter about how we should prepare to be "whisked" away into a "world of mystical luxury?"
The other month, we published 5 Booking Sites to Know About and Use, our handy little guide to the hotel booking sites (and one mobile app) that we use frequently for our hotel stays in the U.S. But what are the best hotel booking sites for Europe?
We personally have used a variety of booking sites for our past European vacations. In Monte Carlo, we ended up going through Kiwi Collection and Leading Hotels of the World. In Paris, we once had you dear readers pick our hotel. Another time, we booked through the hotel at Le Meurice. In London, we booked directly with Tune for the opening of their first hotel in London and in Munich and Barcelona a few years back, we actually booked using credit card points.
And the frequent hotels we've casually surveyed seem to use different tactics themselves. Several folks told us they go through loyalty programs like Starwood and Hilton. While others stick with the big travel aggregators like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline and Travelocity.
Hotel Booking Sites / Hotel Booking Tips / Quikbook / HotelTonight / Tingo / PointsHound / RoomKey / Hotel News / → All Tags
One of the questions we get asked the most (after "Can you get me a free hotel room?") is, "What hotel booking site do you use?" Our answer often varies depending on the city, the time of year and whether the trip is business or pleasure, but we've definitely got a few sites that we trust more than others.* So allow us to round them up for you here:
5 Hotel Booking Sites You Should Know About and Use
*Sorry, these won't help lower the rates for NYC in mid-June but at least you'll be getting the best rate you can.
Know of a hotel room open that's close to the Superdome in New Orleans? Let us know!
As we head into the final weeks of the NFL Playoffs, the mad scramble for hotel rooms in New Orleans, where Super Bowl XLVII will be held, has already begun. We told you that way back in October most of the hotels in the Big Easy were sold-out and that's still true.
Right now, doing a quick check on Expedia we see the usual budget suspects--anything with Inn in the second half of its name--in less-than-desirable areas of New Orleans still open for $300+ a night. So there is availability during Super Bowl weekend. But is it the kind you want?
Starting next week we'll be keeping our eyes out on who still has Super Bowl hotel rooms open, from the usual suspects like hotel booking sites and the official Super Bowl reservations site (at FanExperiences.com) to less conventional places like AirBnB.com, Craigslist, and our ever trusty HotelChatter tipline.
No matter where you begin your search for hotel rooms though, the same rules apply for finding a hotel deal for Super Bowl:
Keep reading to see our five tips for booking a Super Bowl hotel room
Hotel Booking Tips / Airbnb / Hilton Hotels / Hotel News / Online Booking Sites / Hotel Tech / Hotel Technology / → All Tags
Have you ever booked a stay through Airbnb? If yes, then skip to the next paragraph. If not, here's a quickie backgrounder: started four years ago, the vacation rental site allows travelers all over the world to book stays in other people's apartments and homes—just like a hotel room, but often much, much cheaper and a quicker way to connect with locals.
Needless to say, the company is giving hotels a serious run for their money.
How much money, you ask? A recent statistic actually found that by December 31, Airbnb (which is now available in 192 countries) will have surpassed Hilton in number of rooms booked. For evidence, see the below tweet from tech leader Tim O'Reilly:
HotelTonight released the 4.0 version of its iOS and Android app today. The new versions will bring expanded hotel offerings as well as personalized suggestions for each user.
“What one person sees is now a little different than what another person will see,” says Sam Shank, CEO of Hotel Tonight. “We had complaints that hotels weren’t [always] right for them, so we wanted to get better results for people.” For example, at one point it wouldn’t help a customer if all deals shown that day were all on one side of town, and that customer was on the other side. With the new app, they’ll now be able to see more options. Also, with a type of “customer tracking” system, if one highly rates a hotel after a stay, when they return to HT, they’ll see a bonus hotel offer similar to the one they stayed at previously.
Here's A breakdown on what will happen when you open the new HotelTonight app.
We've talked so much about HotelTonight, the mobile booking app that gives you discounted rates on that night's stay, so much that we've just assumed everyone and their smartphone-holding mother knows how to work it.
Yet time and time again, we keep running into friends who booked rooms last-minute for far higher prices than necessary. When we ask them, "Did you use HotelTonight?" They tell us, "No, what's that?" D'oh.
Back in June, a gay-friendly flash sale site launched called Out Escapes, specializing in unheard-of destinations and pre-packaged travel deals. But now, another one has emerged that aims to cover regular old, on-the-beaten-path places like New York, Berlin, Bangkok, and San Francisco.
Though it's existed since 2011 as a travel booking company, the new World Rainbow Hotels website allows users to browse—and then book rooms at—"carefully chosen" gay-friendly hotels in major destination cities. And, from the sounds of it, they have some pretty high standards!