“The main problem with booking a hotel as part of a package with airfare is that you are limiting your choices without any substantial savings. Many of the largest travel sites can’t give you better rates no matter what you book along with them, and often limit your choices to hotels they have exclusive arrangements with.”
But what about hotels found on travel mega-sites marked as “best deals”?
“The best way to go about booking a hotel is to first find the properties that suit your needs and then find the best price for each of them,” continues Collins. “Weigh your options after doing your homework and then make a decision.”
Indeed, a “special deal” isn’t really special if it doesn’t allow you to stay in the area you want, offer you the amenities you desire or is out of your price range despite the discounts. Saving $10 to $50 dollars a night is great, but not if you are at an unsuitably located hotel and will have to travel extensively to get to the areas you want to see and experience.
Still, doesn’t booking with the larger travel sites give you the highest number of options?
“Many individually owned and ‘boutique’ hotels aren’t listed with the largest online travel sites,” says Collins. “In order to find those types of properties and experience the best savings, go to travel sites that specialize in a particular city or region. Sites such as these usually have all the properties that the largest online agencies have and then some. Not only will you have the best selection, you’ll have a better choice of discounted activities to choose from as well.”
And why are activities so important?
“Many people lose sight of the fact that experiencing a new place is what vacationing is really about,” offers Collins. “Whether you are on a relaxing, sightseeing, educational, adventurous or luxury vacation, the place you stay shouldn’t be the entire focal point. As important as it is to plan well for the place you stay, it’s just as important to plan for what you will do once you get there.”