Frugal Foo

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That Much Cheaper Hotels at WOTIF – WTF!

Last minute accommodation online booking websites are still useful despite hotel price guarantees.

The Stock Exchange symbol for wotif.com is WTF. It is also a three letter acronym perfectly describing how I felt recently when I discovered how much money I could have saved by booking my weekend accommodation with WOTIF, rather than directly with the hotel.



My recent stay at Crown Metropol in Melbourne costing $500 including valet and breakfast, could have been almost half the price by booking a $275 package on wotif.com or lastminute.com.au. But 6 weeks before our stay at Crown Metropol, I chose to book directly with Crown online at crownmetropol.com.au. I did so thinking it was too early for those last minute websites to have any worthwhile deals, and I was saving 15% under an “Advanced purchase discount” directly from Crown. I now know I could have saved almost 50% with a package from wotif.com which included the valet parking and breakfast for two but a slightly different room not on a corner. The point is, this great value package didn’t present itself when booking directly with Crown online.

So last minute discount websites are still a great way to find stunning bargains, even several weeks before your holiday is due to begin. But that is not the end of the lesson.

Many big hotel chains other than Crown, have a price guarantee for bookings made directly with the hotel. They promise you won’t find the same room, with the same restrictions, for the same date, at a better price elsewhere.

'Potentially, however, there are more weasel words in these hotel price guarantees than a ferret convention.'
 
By and large the big hotel chains such as Hilton and Accor, are holding true to the spirit of these lowest price promises, with equal or lower prices to be found on their websites. Potentially, however, there are more weasel words in these hotel price guarantees than a ferret convention.

There is still scope for the wotifs of the world to offer a better deal. And they often do. Last minute discount websites may offer competitive packages, adding food and extras, while tightening cancellation restrictions. Over all, the package could be a better deal than what the hotel offer directly. I suspect that if you tackled the hotel on their rate guarantee, sighting a better value for a package on a discount website, there would be enough wriggle room for the hotel to weasel out of the guarantee since the package is not directly comparable given the special inclusions and restrictions.

Frugal tips for the best last minute accommodation deals
  1. Websites such as WOTIF are handy for planning the holiday. All available options are displayed.  Find a room you like, then check elsewhere to confirm you have the absolute best deal.
  2. The best rate is often a phone call away, especially for small family run accommodation businesses.
  3. When booking online, check both the last minute website and the hotels own website.  The best deal could be on either.
  4. Last minute websites charge booking fees, usually between $3 and $6.

Last minute discount accommodation websites still offer the best deal for some hotels, but not always. However it’s rare that you would be much worse off booking via a discount web site. The best last minute deals can be found by a good old fashioned telephone call to the hotel directly.

How did you discover your best accommodation deals?  Please comment.

Tags:  Melbourne, wotif, holiday, hotel, Hilton
Also of interest: A Free Hotel Room in Melbourne, Cheap Hotels in Brisbane, Budget Travel Tips for Those Who Plan, Melbourne Is More Than Fun, It’s Free, Hoteliers - Prices tumble, so live it up!
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