Friday, 24 February 2012

Search for a hotel & booking

The most stressful part of booking for my holiday is making hotel reservations. I squirm at the idea of hunting for hotels, price comparing and finding something reasonable for my needs.

There are several criteria:
- Location, usually city centre is a necessity for short breaks or near the busy area
- Hotel grade, now this confuses me. I'm not too fussed, I choose anything from a hostel to 4* usually, with most being 2*
- Price, this is essential, personally I don't want to pay more than £50 a night (double per person) or max £75 (single)
- Extras, I prefer breakfast included, infact this is usually a necessity as I hate hunting for breakfast in a foreign city

Though the next step has to be the difficult part:
Search - 
Try searching for the specific requirements above and it becomes near impossible, Google struggles to provide enough, you need to hunt across multiple online travel agents for prices

Price comparison - 
What a nightmare, there's no real simple system like there is for airlines (Kayak). While some services are getting there they just cannot handle the number of hotels available

Inaccurate information - 
Showing me 20 year old glossy images or tacky user-generated photos. Blugh. Plus when you arrive you expect the "grand exterior" they wrote on their review just for it to be a nothing impressive

Guest reviews - 
Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes I'm reading a review of someone who is not like me. It's like information overload

Booking - 
Now this has got to be the scary part. It's like being stood on a ledge 100foot from the ground - the heart races. Will it work? Will the reservation reach the hotel? Have I got a good deal? While I have extras to pay on arrival? Will it be what they sold me? Oh and also check when you pay - the amount of times I get caught out and arrive at the hotel STILL having to pay (why on earth they make you go through the whole process of taking card details then not using them to take the money.)

A few tips on hotel searching:
1. For your initial search, go to Google and run a search with location details (where you want to be), describing hotel rating. This will bring up some flags for you to do your next search.

2. Visit a couple of online hotel booking websites like www.expedia.com or www.booking.com and run a search for those hotels. Remember to check what you are booking (single, Double deluxe, King, with or without breakfast - any extras), this will help you compare better.

3. Check the hotel website, see what they are offering for the same booking

4. Call the hotel, if their website is more expensive than the online travel agents for the same product ask them why. See if they offer you something better....

Sometimes booking online doesn't give the benefits you deserve :-)

Example:
Location: Berlin
Star: 4*
OTA price: £156
Website: 188euro = £155