So you think your loyalty pays off? Think again.
We can all agree that being loyal to one hotel chain and/or your favorite online travel agency (OTA) might seem like you’re winning at saving money on hotel bookings. Seeing 10% off with Genius 3, for example, feels nice, doesn’t it? Likewise, you might say you have an advantage over those who haven’t joined any loyalty program. But aren’t you being played?
I reached the Genius 2 level this year. And with that comes 15% OFF the usual hotel rates. So, why not go on vacation. I checked some options, and this came up to be my favorite. So, €2,503 for a week’s stay at a 5-star resort with a 15% discount seems F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C.
Or I thought it does. Until I found these.
Those are just a few reviews from Trustpilot and Tripadvisor. So, here’s what came next. I changed my laptop to another (as I never signed in on booking.com there) and ran a quick experiment. I put down the same dates, searched for the same Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres All Suites & Spa - All Inclusive hotel, and WHAT!?
€2,503 also… What is happening?
Apparently, “illusional loyalty” is a thing now. I know how excited you can get seeing the 10% off icon when scrolling through the website. But how’s that fair when I am on Genius 2 level booking a hotel with a 15% discount end up paying the SAME price as a person who hasn’t even signed up for the program? I joined the program to get cheaper prices. But it feels like getting that great purchase 50% off on Black Friday, although the prices were just increased the day before.
Besides, being loyal to one OTA limits your choices. You’re feeling sure about getting the lowest price as I did, but obviously, booking websites can rarely guarantee that the price will always be lower than on 100 other OTAs. So, here I see my loyalty “paying off.”
So how can I make sure I’m getting a fair hotel price?
#1 Add a scanning tool. Browser extensions add a lot to your browsing experience. Ratepunk is a lightweight extension that stays on your browser and does the job only when you need it. By that, we mean it pops up only when you browse on your chosen OTA and displays prices for the same hotel all over the internet.
#2 Play around with VPN. For example, people searching for hotels in the United Kingdom from India frequently spend more than those seeking from any other European country.
#3 Start with cashback and coupon sites. When hunting for the best deals, we always start by checking cashback and coupon websites to see if there are any big discounts available. For example, Expedia, Hilton, and Orbitz frequently offer seasonal promotions through their affiliate marketing partners, which is how you can regularly score amazing prices. These promotional sales and cashback offers can range from 1% to 12% or more, so starting your search on these sites is a good idea.
For example, Rakuten, Honey, and now Ratepunk offer coupon codes and cashback features.