Vinnie Van GO connected with Clem Bason, former president of Hotwire.com and now the CEO of goSeek.com, a value-focused hotel search site helping travelers find hidden deals that can save them 20% or more over other online travel sites. We asked him for tips on finding the best travel deals and here is what he had to say:
The only thing in life that I care about (other than my family of course!) is saving people money on travel. I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for finding the best deals on hotels and flights.
Use a coupon or promotional code.
One of the best-kept secrets in hotel booking is the coupon code. Expedia Inc. – which owns sites like Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Cheaptickets – offers coupons every single day of the year. Sign up for emails from these sites to get updates. Or visit their “Deals” page to find the latest code. You’ll be able to save 10-20% at checkout.
There is – of course – a catch. All the coupons have restrictions. Some hotels – including the big brands like Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton – aren’t eligible. And often there are minimum spend or length of stay requirements. Also, all coupons have a range of travel dates for which they apply. To manage all this complexity, consider goSeek. We find all the coupons out there, process the fine print, and show you only the very best one – that works – for the hotel and dates you want.
Use Facebook Messenger, or text
Did you know that you can now book hotels using Facebook or a simple text message? Most people don’t. Check out a new site called Snaptravel, where you can use natural language to tailor your hotel search as if you were talking to a human. But in fact, you’re talking to a computer. Because each Snaptravel “conversation” is unique they’re able to offer you special prices not available anywhere else. We’ve seen discounts of 40% or more over what you’d pay elsewhere. Get started here.
Book a refundable room. Then watch for price drops.
If you aren’t willing to book at the very last minute, you can try this trick, which allows you the certainty of having a hotel room in advance while still taking advantage of falling prices at the last minute. Your first step is to find a refundable room – at a reasonable cost – well in advance of your trip. Often these rooms can be cancelled any time up until 48 hours before your check-in date. Even better, you’ll find that coupons and AAA discounts often apply to refundable reservations. Book your room. Now, watch prices as your check-in date approaches. Just before your 48-hour deadline, do a thorough search to see if you can find a better hotel for a better price. Check all the available discounts. In most cases you’ll find a better price for the same room at your hotel, or something comparable nearby. Book the new room, and cancel your old. And just like that, you’ve saved by booking (mostly) last minute, without all the stress.
Time your flight and spend less.
People often have a standard definition of a “vacation” in their head. It is seven days long. You leave on a weekend and return the following. Great. Except that it’s not great if you care about getting the best value. With so many people defining their vacation this way, flight prices on or around the weekends are always high. And it’s not just leisure travelers pushing fares up. Business travelers fly most often on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, filling up seats and pushing up prices. What’s left? That’s right – Tuesdays and Wednesdays – the lightest days for air travel. We’ve seen savings of 20% or more by flying on these days versus others.
Use those alternate airports.
A little extra driving could save you significant dollars. There will often be airports a little farther afield, whether it is from your home airport or your destination. In many cases you’ll find lower prices. It takes a little more time, but the savings is worth it. Sometimes you’ll find fares 10-20% lower.
Check out Skiplagged.
There are few places left to get real, meaningful flight discounts. If you’re willing to use the age-old “hidden city” discount, then Skiplagged is the place for you. The upside is savings. The downside is that you’re operating in a grey area that the airlines don’t like, and you can’t check bags.
Thanks for the tips Clem!