Finding a hotel room at a good price can quickly turn into a nightmare with 37 tabs open in your web browser.
Are the best deals on Booking.com, Priceline, Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire or Hotels.com? (Six sites that belong to just two different companies, by the way.) Or on one of those new AI-powered platforms like Staypia and GoSplitty?
Personally, I stopped probing the various booking sites a long time ago. The reason ? I found the most effective web page: Google. Or, more precisely, Google hotels.
Google hotels is the tool that appears in the first search results whenever you google the word “hotel”. You’ve probably seen it before, it looks like this:
At first glance, this seems trivial. However, it should be understood that Google hotels is not a reservation platform, but an aggregator that searches for you on all the sites listed at the beginning of this text – and several others that you have never heard of – in order to present the prices of each.
In the previous example, all I had to do was select Château Frontenac to get offers from 27 different sites — just be sure to skip the “Featured Options” section, which are actually advertisements.
It shows the price charged at the hotel, which is $379. Some platforms charge more, $388 per night. But what interests us, of course, is the best bargain, the one at $267, or $112 less than if I had booked directly with the Château Frontenac! And this, for the same room.
You could stop there, but to take advantage of all the power of Google hotels, the ideal is to visit the page of the tool.
At the top of the page, on the left, you will find the “All filters” tab, where you can select all the criteria imaginable – including “pets accepted” – to find the hotel that suits you. Here are the ones I like to activate when looking for a cheap room.
The first is a no-brainer for bargain hunters: “Sort by lowest price”. Nothing to add here.
The second filter is “Free Cancellation”. Yes, you can usually get a better price by upgrading to a non-cancellable room, but unless it’s a last minute rental, the few dollars less isn’t worth it in my opinion. eyes. It only takes one unexpected event for the economy to turn into a loss of several hundred dollars…
Another advantage of free cancellation: if you’re making a reservation for an upcoming trip in several weeks or months, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a new search every now and then in Google hotels and changing your reservation if you find a more attractive offer.
The last filter I activate is “Customer Rating”, which I set to four stars and above. It is not about the number of stars of the hotel, but about the appreciation of the customers according to the evaluations left on Google. Like all online comments, it is an imperfect and fallible tool. But in my personal experience, at this level, the rooms are generally clean, which is my main criteria for comfort when I travel.
With all these filters activated for a weekend in July in Old Quebec, Google hotels offered me 40 results, of which here are the first three: two youth hostels — which are, by the way, often excellent places to go regardless of age, including with children, access to a kitchen to save money on meals — and a hotel.
“Special offer” in green indicates that the price for this property is, according to Google, at least 15% lower than that of similar hotels nearby, while “super offer” means a difference of at least minus 25%.
Once you have found a hotel that interests you, just click on the “Show prices” button to see all the offers. Note that you sometimes have to click on the “Show more options” button at the bottom of the list to find the price that Google was dangling from its results page.
If you are ready to make the reservation, click on the “Visit the site” button. You will then be redirected to the booking platform. It is with her that the transaction is made, and not with Google.
The search engine also recommends checking whether the price offered on the third-party platform is indeed the one you see in Google hotels, errors and price changes not being impossible.
Note that from one platform to another, the way of displaying prices on their site varies. Some present the total cost of the stay rather than the cost per night, which can give the impression of error. The same goes for taxes and other fees, which are sometimes included, sometimes not.
Personally, to be sure of getting a good deal, I go as far as possible in the process, but without reservation, in order to obtain the total cost. Then I do the same on the official website of the hotel. I can then see how far I actually have a good price.
Once you’ve found the perfect hotel at the perfect price, there are a few additional tricks you can apply to get more bang for your buck.
First, call the hotel directly. Explain that you saw this price on this site, and ask if they can beat this offer, or if not, offer you an upgrade or lunch at the same price. You may be told “no” often, but some establishments might agree, because it will cost them less than paying a commission to the booking site.
Another tip is to sign up for loyalty programs. That of the hotel, if you book directly with the latter, sometimes offers you additional services, such as free wifi. That of the booking platform, if you use one, occasionally allows you to obtain discounts or other rewards, for example free nights.
Finally, before making the reservation, go to a site like Rakuten or Club Boomerang to check if the platform you are booking with offers cashback on purchases. As of this writing, Hotels.com is offering 6% cashback through Rakuten. If you are planning a long stay, this can represent a nice sum!
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How to get the best hotel price | dollars and cents