My hotel booking process follows repeatable steps in the search for the best hotel prices online. The idea is to be consistent, following a process that works.Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site but I also use Expedia.com. In Australia I used wotif.com. There are several other websites that do essentially the same but if you pick your favourite and stick to it, you can get promotional offers that will save you money or get you better hotels.
Promotional Hotel Booking Offers
Keep an eye on “No cancellation fees” offers as these are awesome when in doubt. You can book the hotel, keep looking for a better deal and cancel your initial booking for free if you find something more interesting. Pay attention to the conditions as sometimes a free cancellation is offered up until a few days before your arrival date.
Another great benefit is a hidden discount. A site like Booking.com presents me with Genius offers that aren’t available with an anonymous search. I have compared prices between websites and Genius offers are normally very good. The only problem is that they are normally given for high-end hotels.Booking.com offers another interesting feature: you can create lists of favourites. Creating a list with the name of the place you are visiting is a great way of shortlisting your searches and going back to them later. This avoids the annoying issues of opening many tabs on your browser for all the interesting hotels or repeating the search.
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The Decisive Features when Booking a Hotel
There are many factors you can consider when booking a hotel and you should look for what matters most to you. This is the list of priorities I look for with my hotel booking process:
- Location: it has to be close enough to where I really want to be, preferably walking distance to the main attractions;
- Safety: obvious;
- Price: an important factor when you’re on a budget;
- Wi-Fi: crucial to keep in touch or research my next steps;
- Character: when possible, I look for hotels with a little bit of character or charm;
- Local hotels: I try to avoid big hotels and hotel chains. I want the money to stay local and don’t want to have hundreds of tourists around;
- Analyzing the Negative Hotel Reviews
Negative Hotel Reviews
When I use hotel booking websites like Booking.com or Expedia.com, my biggest tip is to analyze the negative hotel reviews. If there are a lot of negative reviews about one of my priorities, I normally reject the hotel. This method speeds up my hotel booking process and helps me make better choices as there are normally much less negative comments than positive, making it easier to read through.
I came up with this trick when I noticed that a lot of the negative reviews weren’t helpful. For example, people complaining about the size of the toilet. How much time are you really going to spend in the toilet when traveling? Others complain about the pillows and mattresses. If you want the same comfort you have at home, stay at home. Not enough TV channels? I don’t even need a TV in my room! Is it really that important if the concierge isn’t smiling all the time? Have you never had a bad day or week? Some people complain about the lack of variety of products in the mini fridge. Others complain about the lack of choices for breakfast.
If someone writes about stains on the floor and the room smelt like tobacco, that means the hotel is probably dirty, a deal breaker for me. If the area surrounding the hotel is dangerous and people get mugged, that’s another deal breaker. No windows? I’m normally out. People complaining about overcharging means dishonesty and something to stay away from.
I read a few good reviews just to see if some of them are coincident to confirm something good about the hotel.
Change Your Habits
None of the mentioned bad reviews bothers me, so if there is nothing else complained about, I have found a good candidate. The way I see it, a lot of these complaints result from people taking their habits with them while traveling. I change my habits, so I don’t need to have meals at my normal meal times, altered sleeping habits don’t bother me and I definitely change my typical breakfast. But that’s the flexible me.
Other Hotel Booking Factors
Besides the decisive features I mentioned before, there are other factors I consider before making a
- Free Wi-Fi, again;
- When going for price, check if breakfast is included as this can compensate for any difference;
- Check-in and check-out policies; Early check-in and late check-out is useful sometimes;
- Check the cancellation policies;
- Airport transfer fee;
- A free gym and/or swimming pool can be a great way to stay in shape and relaxe;
My Hotel Booking Process
- Start by looking for hotels, checking prices and locations favourite websites like Booking.com or Expedia.com;
- Shortlist your favourite hotels;
- Read through the negative reviews to find deal breakers;
- Check the positive reviews to confirm features;
- Compare prices between booking websites to find the best deal using sites like Trivago;
- Have a look at the other booking factors I mentioned;
- Make the booking;
To complement my hotel booking process I use a price comparison site like Trivago that works for hotels like Skyscanner and momondo work for flights, making it easier to discover the booking website that gives you the best price for the hotel you want. You can also use these websites for the hotel comparison directly.
Booking Hotels drains me out
I spend a lot of time on my trips using my hotel booking process, reading hotel reviews and by the end, I’m tired of it. This is a disadvantage of making decisions on a daily basis. On the other hand, this day to day process can surprise you with really cool places.
In Ecuador, I went to a beautiful city called Cuenca that wasn’t even on my itinerary. It’s arguably one of the most charming places in Ecuador, with its colonial style architecture, the cathedrals and cobbled streets. I found this really cool hostel called La Confradia del Monge that was cheap and beautiful. I enjoyed it so much I stayed an extra night.