Vacationers seek tools to help find travel savings from online hotel deals and summer vacation packages in May.
[via Newswire] Mid-May, just outside of the “30 days to summer” mark, is when travel retailers and agents ramp up vacation bookings with a variety of packages, specifically discounted to fill up seasonal inventory. Consumers can spend hours sorting out options, looking for the best savings that also fulfills their travel needs. This year, 42% will spend more than $1500 on their next vacation and 72% book vacations 1-6 months out, with 12% who do not book ahead and just go and take what’s available. (FatWallet.com Vacation Spending Survey)
The majority of vacationers will book online, especially hotel rooms where 2 out of 3 bookings are made via the internet, and almost 7 in 10 are same day hotel reservations made via mobile device. In fact, hotel reservations are the #1 online travel sales revenue resource. As mobile searches for hotels and reservations are on the increase, surprisingly more than 67% of mobile searches occur at home or work, with only 17% on the go.
While 81% of travelers find hotel reviews important and 49% say they won’t book without reading reviews, travelers say site usability is even more important to them. Time is money, and finding resources that cut the average 20+ sites travelers visit before they book is a big advantage. These four smart tactics can ease the pain of sorting through hundreds of booking possibilities to find hidden travel savings.
SPECIAL SAVINGS BONUS: FatWallet is offering the highest cash back from hotel booking sites with 8% from both Priceline and Expedia through Memorial Day – Priceline is increasing that to a whopping 16% cash back on Thursday, May 14.
TIP: Use OTA (Online Travel Agents) or Metasearch sites to compare value – save time.
One advantage of using an online travel agent is that they do the research (or search) for the best available hotel rates for you. These sites include well known OTAs like Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. They have access to the majority of hotel inventory (available rooms) and often negotiate exclusive hotel deals that you can’t find anywhere else. Metasearch sites are similar (TripAdvisor, Kayak, Trivago), but they aggregate hotel deals from both hotels and OTAs, giving travelers a quick overview of “all” the booking possibilities available to them. Using one of these sites can help travelers trim down the time it takes to research and find the lowest rates, or the best value. Sometimes location and/or amenities are more important than the final price, and these sites help travelers vet out the best booking scenario for each specific trip.
Tip: Book rooms with free cancellation, then monitor pricing.
This is a great savings tactic if you can be flexible with your hotel choice and have the time to monitor prices. Do the normal research and book the best hotel deal you can find with “cancelable rates” (best to double check that the room you want to book offers free cancellations, especially at check-out). Then, watch pricing of all hotels in the area you’re willing to swap out. Chances are quite good you’ll find a better deal, so now you can cancel the original booking. Even you don’t find a better deal, you’re ready to travel.
TIP: Last minute booking offers deep discounts for flexible travelers.
Booking spur-of-the-moment short trips, weekend getaways or friends and family visits last minute can lead to big savings, if you’re willing to take what’s available. You can find much cheaper rates by utilizing the “tonight” listings feature when visiting online travel agents (Booking.com, Expedia, Travelocity), as most hotels will make it worthwhile to book you same day in order to fill their rooms. Mobile apps like HotelTonight and Jetsetter are built to help last minute travelers find deep discounts on unsold rooms, and offer ease of use on the go. Waiting for last minute booking discounts for longer, expensive trips and family vacation can be risky and not advised for the best hotel experience.
TIP: Before booking, click through cash back and coupon sites to add more savings.
Adding rewards and coupons is a smart thing to do every time you book a hotel room online, or for that matter, anytime you make an online purchase. These sites provide access to coupon codes from hundreds of travel booking sites that can save you instant money on purchases (including hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines and vacation packages), let alone at thousands of retailers for travel needs and everyday items. Unlike most coupons sites, Cash Back shopping sites also share their profits with you in the form of rewards like cash back, or points. Rewards simply offer travel bookers extra money off their purchase, although it’s not always instant savings. Some sites, like Ebates.com and FatWallet.com offer both coupons and cash back.
Note: Cash Back can be a big advantage if you’re earning cash back year round as the money you’ve been saving with all your purchases can be used as vacation spending money!! Or booking money. A free browser tool (FatWallet Express) will remind online shoppers when cash back is available so they don’t miss out on any added savings.