This is a follow-up to my 5-Step Guide to Finding The Lowest Rate For Hotel Rooms, which includes tips on using “opaque” sites like Hotwire.com and Priceline.com to save on hotel rooms.
Specifically, I’ll show you how to greatly improve your guess as to which hotel you’re actually bidding on Hotwire.com before pulling out your credit card. This was initially inspired by a helpful comment by reader Nasty N8, but I expanded and altered his advice a bit.
Finding The Hidden Hotel
When you run a search for hotels on Hotwire, you only get the price, star rating, and the general neighborhood. For example, here’s a search result for hotels near the Orlando airport (MCO) on 12/20/09.
Hotwire Participating Hotels
I see that I can get a 4-star hotel near MCO for $56+taxes. But which one? How do I know if it is any good? Using the Hotwire Hotel List for Florida at BetterBidding.com, I scroll down to the Orlando MCO section and see two listings: Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport and Renaissance Orlando Hotel Airport (Marriott). Again, this list is not 100% accurate, but it does provide a shortcut possibility and also another data point for later (see scenic route).
I click on the red box “Continue” to see the total with taxes per night ($69.45), and also learn more details about the actual hotel. If I scroll down I see some information from TripAdvisor.com:
With this information, I can usually reverse engineer the specific hotel from the TripAdvisor (TA) site. There are three points of interest here:
- Tripadvisor Traveler Rating (Out of 5). Based on customer reviews, this is an average rating of quality. Sometimes they won’t match up perfectly (i.e. TA will show 3.5, but Hotwire will round up to 4), but most of the time they will.
- Number of reviews. This will not be exact, but instead be rounded off to the nearest 20. So if TA has 35 reviews, then Hotwire will say 20+. If TA has 41, then Hotwire will show 40+.
- Date of last review. Simply look at the date of the first review you see on TA, and compare with this date.
Let’s go back to the initial hotel list. Here are the Tripadvisor pages for the Hyatt Regency (4.5 dots, 163 reviews, last on Aug 2009) and the Renaissance Hotel (4 dots, 57 reviews, last on Aug 2009). Remember, 57 is the same as 40+.
We see here that the most likely hotel is the Renaissance Orlando Hotel, with all factors matching. At Expedia.com, this hotel would have cost $112 per night with taxes on the exact same day. By doing a little legwork, you could secure a savings of over $42 per night (38%).
The Scenic Route
If you did not find a match, then the hotel may not be updated on the list yet. Here, you’ll have to run a search on Tripadvisor. Use the “Hotels” tab and act as if you want to book a hotel, using your travel dates and everything. Do not just use the search box. Now, the left sidebar will have a ton of options to narrow down your search results. Again, use your region, your Tripadvisor rating, and also the star class rating. (Note: The hotel class “star” rating by Tripadvisor will sometimes vary from the ratings from Hotwire, so you might allow one star difference either way.)
Here is a nice screenshot that shows how I narrowed it down to 6 hotels. As you can see, the only hotel left that matches the Tripadvisor stats is… again the Renaissance Orlando Hotel!
You can also do this down the line with all the different Hotwire search results. Now that you can figure out the actual hotels, you might feel that $50 a night at a 3-star Holiday Inn is better than $100 at at 4-star Hyatt. Happy hotel hunting!