Finding The Actual Hotel Name On Hotwire.com Before Purchase

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).

TripAdvisor Clues
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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+.
  3. Date of last review. Simply look at the date of the first review you see on TA, and compare with this date.

Mix-n-Match
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!

Comments

  1. JoetheBankgeek says:

    Why sleep in a hotel? Just use your van.

  2. Have you heard of betterbidding.com? For both Hotwire and Priceline, you can look up the likely hotels based on city/area, star rating, and amenities. If there happen to be multiple matches, you can also see what others have recently booked to see what’s most likely.

    I’ve used it twice – the first hotel was what I thought it would be, the second one I guessed wrong, but it was one of the ones listed.

  3. Sorry, totall missed the mention of using bb as a starting point in the first paragraph!

  4. This is cool. Thanks!

  5. This is cool. Thanks!

    Oh, and lol Joe

  6. Great detective work! I hope Hotwire doesn’t see this and obscure the number of reviews and the last review date. Both Hotwire and TripAdvisor are owned by Expedia.

  7. I just tried to use this method last weekend when we went to Hershey, PA. But it was confusing because hotwire listed the hotel as 3.5 stars, and Tripadvisor said it was 4 stars (after I booked it, I checked). I checked before I booked and thought I knew the hotel, but the actual one was even better. I was suprised, but it was actually really, really nice and unbelievably cheap.

  8. I would highly recommend http://biddingfortravel.com/ This site is kept very up-to-date and can be used for hotels, flights and etc (although i only ever use priceline for hotels). It is set up as a forum where the moderators keep lists of hotels in each area plus users key in what rates they are having accepted when they bid.

    An example…. Click on ‘Florida – Orlando/Walt Disney World’ under US Hotels >> The first link is ‘ORLANDO HOTEL LIST ‘ >> when you scroll down about 1/2 way you will see ‘Orlando Airport (MCO) ‘ and under the ’3 star’ hotel list you will see ‘Holiday Inn’, ‘Renaissance’, ‘Courtyard’ and ‘Hyatt’. These are the hotels known to be classified as 3 star by Priceline in this zone.
    >> Hit the back button and you can see recent winners in the MCO area

    There is a definite strategy to priceline bidding in order to work the system, get free-re-bids and bid many many times for the same hotel by changing inconsequential criteria (such as bidding on a 4* and adding a zone that does not have a 4* hotel). This is a long read but it can all be found here: http://biddingfortravel.yuku.c.....ic/id/2560

    It’s a fun, competitive and frugal way to travel. Enjoy!

  9. I used to work in a hotel, and would suggest one more thing–call the hotel you’re going to be booked at and ask what their best rate for the nights you’ll be staying are. Only a small percentage of our customers ended up paying less than what we would have charged for a direct reservation. This especially applies if your reservation is in the middle of the week, in the off season, or would be eligible for a AAA or AARP discount. Most guests assumed they were getting a deal, and did no further research.

  10. Speedmaster says:

    Useful, thanks!

  11. Just used this to book a hotel room for a night.
    Expedia Price: $101
    Hotels.com Price: $102
    Hotwire Price: $53

    yep… 50% off.

    Not bad. Only downside, its for work, so they save the money, not me. Keeps the boss happy at least.

  12. Remember that even when you locate the hotel – or think you have – that the hotels themselves really do not prefer Hotwire bookings. They are just to fill up a small number of vacant rooms that the hotel feels are more than they will get from walk-ins. What this means to you is that the hotel is selling the room really cheap because they do not receive all of the rate that you pay. With that in mind, when you book through Hotwire, you will likely receive the worst room in the place. Smallest, near the elevator, maybe on a freeway side of the hotel where the noise is the worst. They will book you into that “worst” room and then hold any better rooms for the walk-ins.

  13. Thanks for your useful information. I’m going on a trip to Canada and using this info to book a hotel. However, I think Hotwire just obscured the number of reviews. It was available a few days ago, but now I can’t find it.

  14. Yup, I agree with kj – I just tried to follow your instructions, and Hotwire no longer shows the number of reviews from TripAdvisor.

    However, BetterBidding and BiddingForTravel both still work to identify 80% of the hotels out there.

  15. Hotwire has elimated the # of reviews on the TRIPADVISOR rating :(

  16. lee parla says:

    I tried to use the advice you give regarding the discovery of the name of a hotwire hotel. One suggestion was to see the Tripadvisor
    rating and the date of the last review but checked it out and see that Hotwire no longer includes the Tripadvisor rating and the date of last review but has a rating based on the customers feedback. So how can I proceed to know the name of the anonymous hotels listed???

  17. I found a website that makes this whole process much easier to do http://www.hotwirerevealed.com , simply go to hotwire.com and find a hotel, then go to the website and you should be able to find and identify that hotwire hotel in a few seconds. Hope this helps some people.

  18. All of these third party bookers are owned by Barry Diller. Just call the hotel and book. They will give you the best rate. When you book through a third partyyou get the worst rooms. Just tell the clerk on the phone waht you are doing and they will give you the best rate.

    Only once in a while will you get anything more than what the Hotel will give you. If you do get it. What is your time worth?

  19. A good site for helping you figure out the best Hotwire deals is http://www.bidgoggles.com

    You flag the amenities that the deal has and it computes the matches.

    A little easier than forum searching.

  20. I just reserve the room direct from the hotel website. I am a member of 3 hotel chain clubs, and you build up points for every night you stay. I have been getting pretty good rates from Best Western. I got a room with a king size bed and a jet tub for 55 dollars a night. That is from reserving off of their website.

  21. Ummm no way you get just as good of a deal directly from the hotel as you do from hotwire. I recently called the hotel i knew was the hotwire hotel, just to check-the walk in rate, it was 97 dollars (not bad for a hotel on the beach), but 5 minutes later i booked through hotwire for 49. I think if you book through one of these opaque sites during holidays or busy seasons you might get an inferior room, but i had a very decent room, and i paid half of what the others paid..well worth it to me. If you have certain expectations it might not be for you.

  22. http://5thingshotwirewonttellyou.blog.com/

    The above tips were learned through a first time purchase made through Hotwire on 07/20/2011 Confirmation # 5090426857. Customer service refused to consider that I was given less than what I paid for even though they saw the complaints and lower star ratings on Obitz, Hotel.com and Expedia. I hope my experiences with Hotwire Hot Rates® will help someone else shop smart. Happy Traveling!

  23. I recently phoned the call center for Expedia. I specifically wanted to know if I booked one of their 4 star unpublished rate hotels in the Huntington Beach area, would it be one of the 4 star hotels that WAS published on their site. The answer was NO. Expedia lists three 4-star hotels in Huntington, yet if I were to book the unpublished rate, a mystery 4-star would appear out of nowhere! I’ve searched other sites and only three 4-star hotels exist in this area!??? Needless to say, I”m not going with Expedia.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Let me explain to you, from a hotel point of view. As a Hotwire, Priceline, or any other 3rd party guest, you did not pay the hotel, you paid Hotwire or whomever. We cannot and will not adjust your rate for any reason, due to contractual agreements with these online reservation services. We will get paid the same amount, regardless of how much you complain. There is no such thing as getting a five star stay at a one star price…it will not ever happen. You’ll get the least desireable room every time, I promise you. As a 3rd party reservation guest, you will not get an upgrade, a free breakfast, rewards points, or any other nice things that a guest paying full rate -or any rate directly to the hotel- will receive. You didn’t choose us out of loyalty, but rather by what hotel would take your low bid. We are well aware that the guests booking on Hotwire, Priceline, or whatever 3rd party website will be the ones that complain about anything possible and try everything in the book to get a refund, while the guest who is upstairs in bed and paying $269 a night will be nothing but nice to our entire staff, and in the event of something going wrong will allow us to fix the problem without asking for money back. I don’t tell you this to be mean, and you can believe it or not as it doesn’t make a hill of beans to us. I’ve worked in several chains and at any property it is always the same. Do yourself a huge favor and book directly through the hotel or it’s website. You might be suprised at the deals that you’ll find on the hotel’s website. And you will definitely be suprised at the difference in service, upgrades, and accomodations that you receive when you arrive. Just saying….

    • This is nonsense. The hotels staff are hourly wage workers who have no vested interest in the hotel outside of putting in their hours and getting paid at the end of the week. A clerk, maid or room service personal doesn’t care whether you booked your room through a third party site or directly.. and neither do most managers and owners. A professional staff and management and ownership will treat every guest with respect and good service, as you’re in the SERVING people business.

      • Eddie, I TOTALLY AGREE!!! I worked for Marriott for 5 years. As a guest service rep and a front office supervisor. Never did we care who paid what for a room or treat anyone different. Guest aren’t walking around with the price they paid on their heads. Unless you are looking in the system, you have no idea what a guest paid for a room and we never placed anyone in rooms according to what they paid… room type only!

  25. I get what you’re saying anonymous, and agree that if I’m paying half price, then I should be happy to receive a room that is not as nice as the customers who pay full price. I choose, however, to save the money and buy 3rd party. It’s always cheaper. What I have issue with is the hotels that allow their rooms to be sold on Hotwire or Priceline, and then disparage the customers who buy these rooms at discounted prices. Perhaps these bidders are first time customers to your chain – you certainly won’t engender feelings of loyalty by rolling your eyes when they walk in. News flash! Your hotel had the choice NOT to sell discounted rooms!

  26. Raziuddin says:

    Never book hotel from hotwire very bad experience , they gave me worst hotel mentioning it as 2 star, when I requested for refund or atleast change hotel then they rejected my request.

  27. Maia Green says:

    booked a flight through Hotwire on October 9, 2012 due to my father being ill and in the process of expiring. My flight was scheduled for Wednesday, October 10, 2012. My flight was booked through United Airlines. The first thing that happened, I asked the flight attendant for a seat belt extension, ad she advised me that she would bring one back to me. I asked again, then she started giving the passenger safety instructions directions for the flight. We were flying at a high altitude and it was the time that you could take off your seat belt before she brought a seat belt ext. to me. Then, according to my itinerary my flight is scheduled to go to LaGuardia Airport. Instead the flight stops on Washington Dulles. The passengers begin to exit the plane I asked out of curiosity why was the plane stopping. The pilot said that he needed to take a lunch break. I just complied. I looked on the runway and noticed that my carry-on bag was not on the cart. Upon arriving in NY. I noticed again that my bag was not on the runway. I went to baggage claims. My bag was not there either. I spoke with the United Airlines to file a claim. I was in NY with no clothes. This was my only bag because it was not a luxury travel. I was going to say farewell to my terminal father. Hotwire says that I need to contact United because I had the trouble with them, they also said that I CHOSE TO use Hotwire.com and they have a no refund, regardless policy. Very Horrible customer “NO” service. I could not focus on my father for trying to hunt down my bag. I could not go to meet with family because I did not have the attire to do so. To add insult to injury, They offer me $50 hot buck for a future travel. ***Newsflash*** I WILL NEVER USE THEIR SERVICE AGAIN!!!!!!!

  28. I will never use Hotwire.com ever again. They claim to have their own rating system and book hotels ranked by all other sites as 2 star as 3 star…with the guaranteed pool….outdoor…in Utah… in winter! Customer service was incredibly rude. When I sent them links to 13 sites that ranked the hotel as 2 star, they never even replied. So much for that vacation. Run a search on “Hotwire Ratings” and you will how many customers Hotwire.com has disappointed!
    Beware!

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