When Amy Eisen originally booked a weeklong vacation to celebrate her 30th anniversary, she was looking at a $3,749 hotel bill.
Eisen reserved her room at the all-inclusive Sanctuary Cap Cana in the
Dominican Republic through a new travel site, Tingo.com. Each day, the
booking site automatically checked to see if the hotel lowered its price
for the nights Eisen was staying there. Eventually, the price fell.
Tingo canceled Eisen's original reservation and rebooked her at the new,
lower rate. Her savings: $1,874.
"I would not have considered
that you could continue to ask: Are there any discounts? Are there any
discounts? Are there any discounts?" said the Wynnewood, Pennsylvania,
psychologist. "I don't think most people would. You book it and think
this is the best price I can get."
Tingo is one of a growing number of services that aim to save travelers money on their hotel stays.
site, which is owned by TripAdvisor, says that travelers have a 20
percent chance of getting at least some money back. The typical rebate
is $50, according to the company, but occasionally travelers like Eisen
get much more back.
The site requires prepayment of the room and
focuses on fully refundable rates. Sometimes, cheaper rooms might be
available through other booking channels but they typically can't be
Tingo isn't the only site changing the way travelers
book. A host of new apps are offering steep discounts on hotel stays,
particularly last-minute bookings.
HotelTonight offers discounted
rooms at more than 2,000 hotels via its iPhone and Androids apps. Each
day at noon local time, a slate of rooms is released for each of the 80
cities it currently serves. There are luxury hotels, hip hotels and
those categorized as "solid" or "basic."
The savings can be substantial.
recent search turned up the Bryant Park Hotel in New York. HotelTonight
said a room there should cost $345 but was offering it for $239. (A
check of the hotel's own website showed $285 as the lowest rate.) Two
hours later, the room was being offered for $199. Two hours after that,
HotelTonight was out of rooms at the Bryant Park Hotel.
for Chicago turned up the Wyndham Blake Hotel. HotelTonight said the
going rate was $179 but that it could offer a room for $129. The
cheapest standard rate on the hotel's own website was $169; a room could
be had for $152 for AAA members.
HotelTonight users can't request
room types, so it is best used by solo travelers or couples. And while
many hotels offer ample nonsmoking rooms, nothing is guaranteed using
Travelers can book rooms until 2 a.m. - perfect for
unexpected travel delays or those who might have partied too hard and
just don't want to go home.
Rooms can be booked for up to five nights but check-in must occur the day of booking.
as with all travel deals, make sure to shop around. Rates aren't always
cheaper on these apps. For instance, HotelTonight was offering a room
at Caesars Atlantic City for $49 a night, down from the regular rate of
$62 for that night. However, a quick visit to the hotel's website found a
room for $39 thanks to an online promotion that was being automatically
applied to all bookings. As an added bonus, guests could pick a smoking
or nonsmoking room.
Priceline - one of the original discount hotel sites - has also jumped into the same-day hotel sale frenzy.
its iPhone and Android apps and its mobile site, Priceline is now
offering "Tonight-Only Deals." The service covers approximately 150
cities and towns around the U.S. on a typical evening. It only applied
to three- and four-star hotels. Offers start to post at 11 a.m and rooms
can be booked up until 11 p.m. local time, or until they sell out.
Priceline's traditional service where travelers bid on unknown hotels, Newyork0 the hotel names are displayed along with descriptions, maps, photos
and customer satisfaction scores.
A recent search for a room in
Memphis turned up the Madison Hotel. Priceline said the room should cost
$242 but was offering it for $184. The hotel's own website was charging
Sometimes, the deals through the Tonight Only specials of Priceline's mobile app are even better than Priceline's own website.
Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans had a room recently for $229 on its
own website and Priceline.com. However, Priceline's mobile app had a
Tonight Only offer of $183.
Priceline says Thursday night stays
tend to deliver the deepest savings, while Sunday is the most popular
check-in night among last-minute mobile bookers.