Be it a weekend getaway or a long trip you’re planning, there’s only so many ways to save money on flights. But when it comes to hotel bookings, there are plenty ways to work out a good deal. Here are a few tips to help you get through your bookings without breaking the bank:
1. Stick to one loyalty program:
Travel companies are bending over backwards to establish a good repeat customer base, and now is the best time to use that to your advantage. While it’s difficult to hold it against those who go for the cheapest hotel option while booking- if you’re a regular traveler, that isn’t working to your advantage. Companies invest huge amounts of money in acquiring new customers, and are willing to invest that money in retaining existing customers instead. Capiche? Most leading travel companies have loyalty programmes that comes with big benefits! You could opt for the one that suits you best. Some stick to Ibibo for the GoCash, others to Booking.com for the cheap rates.
The Make My Trip loyalty programme works best for me when it comes to hotel bookings. After every 4 bookings, they offer 1 free room night amounting to Rs. 3,500. The booking value must exceed Rs. 5,000 per booking though. Companies also roll out a bunch of exclusive offers specifically for repeat customers, involving cash backs and future travel vouchers, that you would miss out on if you didn’t sign up for a loyalty programme!
P.S.- It helps to research which platform offers the best deals in a country or city. Often these hotel companies have exclusive partnerships with certain hotel chains and for those properties they often have promotional rates as well. For example- Make My Trip has an “MMT Assured” quality tag for which Make My Trip can guarantee a quality experience. So naturally, these hotels are also inclined to offer MMT exclusive rates for their vote of confidence.
2. App, App, App!
Travel companies are fighting to move business to their apps and are giving out big discounts, wallet points, cashback offers and freebies on booking through their apps. There’s a lot of action on the apps, and the regular notifications they pump in every day will keep you updated on the latest offers. Often companies roll out counter offers to entice customers towards booking with them as opposed to their competitors. It’s a consumer’s market at the moment and mobile apps are the way to go.
3. Bid for the price you want to pay:
You can now bid for the price you want to pay for the hotel of your choice. Find My Stay is an online travel portal that allows you to bid for a price at a variety of hotels. The request is then sent to the hotel by the website owners, and they come back with either an acceptance or a counter offer for you to consider. More power to you!
4. Free cancellations on hotel bookings:
Make My Trip has come out with a campaign called “Befikar Book Kar” which allows you to cancel your booking free of charge. If you’re worried about losing out on a great hotel deal, you could book it without concerning yourself with a cancellation penalty. This way you can block the deal you’re getting on the website while you search for a better one!
5. Book your stay individually:
Once you’ve checked availability for a particular hotel for your travel dates, you can book each night individually instead of booking them together. The price increases when customers book a series of room nights as opposed to one single night. This way you’ll save a couple of hundreds per night.
6. Cashbacks and wallet money:
Most companies have started collaborating with different banks for cashbacks and walletpoints. The good thing about these cashbacks and wallet money, is that they can be used all together. Unlike GoCash where only a certain percentage for the GoCash can be used, this wallet money can be spent at your discretion. They come with expiry dates though, ranging from 3 to 6 months.
7. Home stays and renting:
Although the concept isn’t as popular in India yet, home stays can end up keeping your pennies in check, specially if you’re traveling abroad. While home stays in India are yet to reach a good standard for recommendation, a lot of apartments, villas and home stay options are available in other countries, specifically Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand, Middle East and some parts of South East Asia. It’s actually a better experience many times, since some apartments are done up so beautifully and in different themes. Airbnb is among the most popular and the most recommended. Guest Houser is another one coming up in India, yet to be tried out.
8. Invest in mattress runs:
On enrolling for a loyalty programme with hotel chains like ITC or IHC, sometimes hotels offer free future room night offers, where customers get free nights on booking a particular hotel on certain dates. This means, that sometimes hotels haven’t utilized enough rooms on certain dates which would lead to losses for them. They give out offers to their loyalty programme owners or premium customers, asking them to book their hotel stay with them on those dates in exchange for free hotel stays in the future. These free room nights are sometimes “anywhere in the world” offers that you could use when you travel abroad to book exotic hotels.
9. Book through your airline loyalty programme:
One you enrol for a loyalty programme, you’ll have access to their members-only offers. They usually partner with hotel chains and companies, and offer double or triple miles on booking rooms through the portal. Even if you don’t end up getting a discount, you’ll get double or triple the miles! Jet Airways often partners with Hilton/Double Tree and it really helps in accumulating travel miles.