I-TEAM: How to Save Big on Travel

Finding a great deal on a hotel room isn’t easy, however, researchers at Boston Consumer’s Checkbook recently searched for 2,000 hotel room rates and found most travel booking sites and hotel sits offer the same price.

Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor, of Boston Consumer’s Checkbook said, “Hotels and these third-party booking sites, they’ve basically agreed not to compete on price,”

Brasler said there are deals out there, you just must know where to find them.

“If you want to get a good deal on a hotel room it means you’re going to have to do a little extra work,” Brasler said.

Take Advantage of Mystery Deals

They sound like a cheesy gimmick, but Brasler said mystery deals like Hotwire’s “Hot Rates” and Priceline’s “Priceline Express” are worth it. The catch is you don’t know the hotel’s name or street address before you’ve booked the room. However, Brasler said travelers can save around 28 percent with mystery deals.


“When it comes to shopping for hotel rooms, that’s actually considerable savings. That’s by far the most consistent and best way to save money,” Brasler said.

Save with Nonrefundable Rates

Experts also said to save with nonrefundable rates. Many hotels and third-party booking sites offer lower rates if you pay upfront for a nonrefundable booking. Boston Consumer’s Checkbook found opting for nonrefundable rates saved an average of about 12 percent.

Look Around the Corner

Travel experts also said to look around because sometimes we get our mind set on one hotel because we’ve stayed there before or it’s the first to pop up online. Make sure there are not better deals right next door.

Boston Consumer’s Checkbook did a search for a three-night stay among four-star hotels in midtown Manhattan. The price to stay at The Bowery Hotel came to $2,311. The price at the similarity-rated Artezen Hotel on the same night came to only $1,161.

“Sometimes people get locked into having to stay in one specific property but there is a comparable one nearby, maybe even a better one nearby that’s charging rates that are half as much,” Brasler said.



Don’t Get Hung Up on Rewards Programs

Everyone likes to accrue points and feel like they’re getting something for free. However, Brasler said most hotel rewards programs only amount to a one to five percent discount. He said too many travelers get laser-focused on a points program and miss better deals with other hotel chains.

“Instead of staying at a different hotel nearby that may be offering them a rate that’s half, they get locked in and overpay for their stay when they really should have just booked somewhere else and forgotten about the points,” Brasler said.

News Center 7 asked Brasler if its worth looking for better deals with Airbnb or VRBO. He said if you’re traveling with a group and need multiple rooms, that might be a smart move.

But, Brasler said prices for home rentals have slowly gone up over the years as demand has gone up. He also warns that you can really be crushed by hidden fees when renting vacation homes.

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