Hidden secrets of hotel booking

How many times have you searched for 2 adults + 1 child above 12 yrs on hotel booking websites and see Suite room as the only option for a particular hotel? Or how many times have you seen a hotel worth USD 200 appear as USD 250? How about seeing a higher room category for a search for 2 adults + 1 infant?

Many of us are comfortable booking hotels online. For those who are not, hotel booking requires the name of the city where you need the hotel, the check-in and check-out date and number of travelers. Based on this input, you will see a list of hotels that match your criteria. It’s simple.

However, to get best pricing or the right room category requires some knowledge of how the logic of the best price or best room category works. Let me explain to you how hotels work. Each hotel has a total number of rooms to fill. Hotels with more rooms (more than 100) will offer the initial few rooms at a low price. Hotels with less number of rooms (less than 30) will generally have a fixed price structure. The objective of every hotel is to sell all their rooms every day. Hotels use different channels to do this. One channel is big online travel websites (OTA) like Expedia, Booking.com etc. Second channel is travel agents. Third channel is their own website.

Most branded hotel chains will have a price parity agreement with OTA’s. i.e. OTA’s cannot show a price lower than what is available on hotel websites. Try checking rates for any Marriott hotel or Intercontinental group or Accor and see if you find a cheaper rate than what is available on the hotel website. If you do, that is not allowed and you won’t find it on a good OTA.

With smaller hotels, you may find it cheaper on a big OTA’s as a lot of them buy majority inventory and may have exclusive selling rights to that hotel. Some of these hotels may even agree to offer hefty commissions to these OTA’s as they don’t have the resources to build and market their own website.

Hotels also use travel agents to sell their inventory. Travel agents may have heavily discounted rates for the initial few rooms across multiple hotels and geographies. Here again, some rates are for hotel only selling but the majority is for package selling.

When you are looking for a hotel as part of your holiday, you may get it cheaper if you buy the entire package. A lot of websites offer this as an offline service i.e. you will have to give your requirement and they will create a package for you. You could also check this with your travel agent. Alternatively, you could also visit our website on https://www.tripdarwin.com/tripIdeasList and check for these special rates yourself online. As discussed earlier these are package special rates and to be booked as part of a package.

With the above background, I will list down a few things to try during your hotel search, based on my 12+ years of experience in the travel industry:

  • When you are searching for 2 adults + 1 infant, try also searching for 2 adults as well. Most hotels will have a free infant policy. However, you will still find hotels appearing with higher room categories or some hotels even saying no availability. This happens because it is not possible to include all hotel policies online.
  • When you are searching for 3 adults, also search for 2 adults. Then call the hotel and check for extra adult policy. You will be surprised that what is not appearing online will be offered by the hotel offline. Also ask for breakfast rate for the third adult.
  • If you have already booked a hotel room online in advance, try checking the same again 5 days prior to the free cancellation date. If you have booked the hotel at a high price, it is possible other people would have booked it at the lowest price. By checking the rates again, it is possible you may get the same room at a lower price, if the person who has booked decided to cancel. This happens a lot of times. You can even re-check multiple times till the check-in date since we are not sure when people will cancel.
  • Check for discounted rates with your travel agent or visit http://www.tripdarwin.com to access special discounted hotel rates for your holiday.
  • When you are checking for 2 adults + 2 children below 12 yrs, many hotels will not appear. Try searching for 2 adults + 1 child and then call the hotel and check for the child policy.
  • When you have 2 rooms, one with 2 adults and one with 2 adults + 1 child, try searching for both rooms separately. Mostly the rooms with 2adults + 1 child will be a higher room category. If you search both rooms together, chances are you will see a higher room category for both rooms due to technology limitations of the OTA.

Hope the above will be useful in helping you select the right room category and cheapest price for your hotel stay.  

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