Boomer Travelers – Hotel Hacks & Accommodation Tips
As boomer travellers who want value for hard earned money, we did a little research on OTA’s and the booking sites to figure out which is the best value for money and learned a few tricks that we can share with other boomer travellers. These tips are good for travellers of any age as well as business travellers.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are travel websites that provide online booking facilities for hotels, airlines, cars and other activities. These include the big ones like Booking.com, Travelocity and so on and truth be told there are only really around 3 of them and they own virtually all the other ones.
The problem for the consumer with OTA’s is the fact that whilst they claim to be the cheapest way to book a hotel for business or holidays they don’t actually confess when you book that there may be charges added to your bill at the hotel. They hide that quite well in the small print. These days you can’t even book an Airbnb without getting a guest fee charged to your stay and in many cases, cleaning is extra so the cost really mounts up. Booking is one of the few OTA’s that doesn’t take any money from you.
Those huge sites that you see advertising non stop on TV don’t tend to come clean on things like taxes and resort fees and these may add anywhere from 10-50% onto that hotel bill at the end of your stay. We have been caught by that a few times.
This isn’t just an OTA or booking site money grab, sites like AirBnB do exactly the same thing. Did you know every time you book through Airbnb and HomeAway that you get charged a fee? Me neither, I learned the hard way and it increased my cost by nearly 10%. You also need to check for fees like occupancy taxes, resort fees and cleaning fees in addition to the fact that some sites charge a credit card transaction fee of up to 3%. You can see a fantastic list of all the booking sites and their fees here.
Here’s the true cost of that booking
|Airbnb||Guests pay a booking fee of 6-12%, depending on the total of the reservation amount and is often charged a cleaning fee, there may be an occupancy tax on top of that||Airbnb hosts pay 3% of the total booking to Airbnb||Listing a property on Airbnb is free|
|TripAdvisor||Guests pay a booking fee of 5-15%, depending on the total cost of the rental||FlipKey hosts can either list for free and pay FlipKey 3%.||FlipKey hosts can either list for free and pay 3% per booking.|
|HomeAway||Guests pay a booking fee of 4-10%, but the fee is capped at $499 – if often charged a cleaning fee that can be extortionate and there may be an occupancy tax on top of that||HomeAway hosts can choose to either pay an annual subscription fee or an 8% pay-per-booking fee (this is 10% if you are overseas.)||Hosts pay an annual subscription fee of $349 if the property has online booking and $499 if it does not.|
|booking.com||Guests pay no fees – but check for hidden charges like taxes and resort fees||Up to 25% charge to hoteliers who list.|
|Gloveler||Guests pay a 15% booking fee – if often charged a cleaning fee that can be extortionate and there may be an occupancy tax on top of that||Gloveler hosts do not pay Gloveler a fee||Listing a property on Gloveler is free|
|Wimdu||Guests pay a 15% booking fee||Wimdu hosts pay Wimdu a 3% processing fee||Listing a property on Wimdu is free|
|Way to Stay||Guests do not pay a booking fee – if often charged a cleaning fee that can be extortionate and there maybe an occupancy tax on top of that||Way to Stay hosts pay a variable percentage of the total booking to Way to Stay||Listing a property on Way to Stay is free|
|9Flats||Guests do not pay a booking fee||9Flats hosts pay 15% of the total booking to 9Flats||Listing a property on 9Flats is free|
|CanadaStays||Guests pay a booking fee of 8%. – and may be charged a cleaning fee and there may be an occupancy tax on top of that||Annual subscription customers pay a yearly fee of $349 Canadian dollars plus a 3% on each booking. Pay per booking customers pay a 10% commission on each booking.||Listing a property on CanadaStays is free for pay per booking customers and $349 for annual subscription customers.|
Boomer Travelers Hotel Hacks
A hotel insider taught me that most travellers who book through OTA’s will not get the best room in the house far more likely they are going to get the leftover rooms, the one by the ice machine or the elevator, you can almost guarantee there will be no view. It is common practice for hotels to save their best for their regular customers or those who book directly through the hotel website. The other thing the OTA’s won’t tell you is that whatever you think you may have booked, may not be what you get – there are absolutely no guarantees through the booking sites.
The booking sites also have the hotels sign a contract that ensures them what is called a “parity rate” this means simply that the hotel is not allowed to sell their rooms cheaper than what is advertised on the booking site. There are ways around this for the guest and here are a few tips and tricks to get a better quality room at a much better price.
- Join the hotel’s rewards program – rooms booked with a rewards card will be of much better quality and the hotel can get around the parity problem with special offers that can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Call the hotel and negotiate a room rate that is better than the booking sites. Ask the hotel to include things like free wifi a dinner, lunch or breakfast or a room with a better view. As long as the hotel is giving you a deal and throwing in extras they can get around the parity rate issue. You can often get up to 20% or more of the cost of your stay by booking direct.
- Another way for boomer travellers or any traveller for that matter is to join Groupon, Living Social, Cudo and Travel Factory or sites in the areas you are planning to travel to. Often you can get great deals for several nights through these types of sites.
We got some great savings using Groupon and Living Social travelling through Ireland you can read reviews of The Armada Hotel on the Wild Atlantic Way, or check out the Old Manse in Northern Ireland, fancy a little luxury in Tulum – then take a look at the El Pez Hotel
If you like this you can read tons more on Ireland, England and other destinations on the site.
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