New Online Resources Make Finding Hotel Deals a Snap

By now many of you have discovered that accommodations offer a more fertile field for digging up deals than airfare. With airfare, just about everybody has the same prices, and you seldom find significant differences. But with hotels, you still have a variety of options. Two relatively new sites provide innovative approaches.

BackBid is a recent entry with a new buying model, based on the idea that hotels "bid" on your business:

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  • You first make a reservation and post the details on the site, including the quoted rate and any special requirements you might want to add. You can make the reservation through any source you want, including various "discount" sources; the only essential qualification is that it be fully refundable. Clearly, you can't use opaque discount sources, such as on Hotwire or Priceline, but you can post whatever you find as the best refundable price.
  • BackBid then runs your reservation past participating hotels and asks for "bids" that might better your best deal. Responding hotels may not always offer lower prices; some may offer what they say is a better "value." According to BackBid, you might get a response from the hotel you originally booked, but you could also receive bids for different locations. Also, says the agency, you might find the best bids coming in just a few days before your planned stay. And, obviously, you may not get any bids at all from some postings. BackBid doesn't say how many hotels are in its "network;" only that it's "increasing exponentially."
  • If you receive a bid you prefer to your original reservation, you cancel the reservation and accept the deal you found on BackBid. Otherwise, you stick with the original or try an opaque site.

BackBid's most compelling feature is that you face no downside. At best, you get a better deal; at worst, you stick to your original reservation, which, presumably, you figured to be the best available deal. And you haven't paid anything for the option to try to do better. Although I haven't received any results yet, I see no reason for you not to give it a whirl—there are no risks or expenses, and you might cut a few bucks off your bill.

 

Essentially, BackBid's business model is a new twist on "opaque" pricing: offering you a less risky way to try for an opaque price than Hotwire or Priceline do. But those two established opaque sites remain the other primary agencies for finding hotel prices that really are less than any advertised "discount" rates. I've been using them for years and have never had a bad experience. The only qualification I have is that with opaque, you can't be fussy about the type of room you get.

"Glamping" is a new one on me—it apparently means "luxury camping." Although I formerly assumed that "luxury camping" was an oxymoron, I may have been wrong. At least that's the premise of Glamping Hub, a Colorado-based outfit that specializes in arranging upscale camping accommodations. In the Glamping lexicon, of course, "luxury camping" doesn't refer to upscale motor homes or trailers, nor does it apply to campgrounds on expensive real estate. Instead, Glamping Hub handles a list of upscale accommodations most notable because (1) they employ some sort of camp-type buildings—tents, yurts, tree houses and such—and (2) they're generally located in outstanding non-city and exotic locations. For the most part, accommodations include toilet and shower facilities; many include air-conditioning, and some have associated hotels, restaurants, and other visitor facilities.

The current listing includes 32 individual facilities in the United States and Canada, 13 in Africa (including bush/safari country sites), 11 in Europe, six in Mexico and the Caribbean, and five in Australia/Southeast Asia. Prices for a single unit vary from as low as $30 per night to $250 per night; some are available only to larger groups occupying multiple individual units.

Some of the locations look very enticing. Check it out on their website, if that sort of vacation appeals to you.

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Ed Perkins on Travel is copyright (c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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