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Despite marketing claims by the big chains, you can often get a better price on a hotel booking through third party websites. That’s even more the case with independent hotels.
- Hotels want to earn the most money they can which sometimes means giving discounts to some guests that they hope aren’t available to other guests willing to pay more.
- So you may find lower rates through brick and morter travel agencies focused on specific ethnic markets, or through online travel sites geared outside a hotel’s home country.
There are restrictions in place to try to prevent those rates from ‘leaking’ availability to the general public. However many sites do access wholesale rates, and are in control of how much commission they take versus lower prices to the customer.
What I’ve found is that the more expensive the hotel the greater likelihood you can find a deal through a small online travel agency website. You’ll usually give up hotel loyalty points and elite status credit, but you may receive other perks. At a minimum it’s worth checking before you book.
I’ve written frequently about Club1 Hotels. They aren’t always the cheapest (though they have a best rate guarantee to take advantage of) but they are definitely one for the arsenal. And right now they are offering View From The Wing readers one year free of their premium rewards program that gives you 5% back on all of your bookings, on top of already getting real savings.
Andaz Papagayo Costa Rica
Membership Sites Can Beat Hotel Chain Prices
One way that hotel chains can claim to offer the best rates, while being beaten by other sites, is that those sites may charge a membership fee, even if that fee can be waived. Then they usually don’t qualify for best price guarantees the chains offer.
Club1 Hotels is like that and I’ve highlighted them in the past when they’ve run free membership offers. Now there’s something even better.
But first a few examples of savings.
- Omni Berkshire New York book direct price for a King Premier room February 24: $490.04 including tax / Club1 all-in for $172.44. (65% savings)
- Viceroy Chicago book direct price for King room March 19: $231.00 including tax / Club1 all-in $165.71. (28% savings)
- Hyatt Ziva Cancun book direct price March 20-27 for King room $3,967.20 all-in / Club1 all-in $2,890.83. (27% savings) Readers have e-mailed me about big savings at Hyatt all-inclusives in the past.
Now you need to pay less than booking direct if you’re giving up loyalty points, but the value proposition gets even better now that they’re offering 5% towards future bookings with every booking… and you earn that not just on hotels but your other travel, too.
Club1 Hotels Loyalty Program Gives 5% Back Towards Future Bookings
Club1 Hotels has a loyalty program that gives 5% back on all of your hotel, car rental, cruise, and activities bookings. (5 points per dollar, 1000 points = $10 discount.) They normally charge $99 to join with this rewards membership, which means you break even at $2000 spent through the site.
Points post within 48 hours of completing travel. You can use your points as partial payment towards a booking — you don’t have to wait until you have enough points to pay for the whole thing to redeem.
I challenged their leadership on the up front fee. They offer good deals, but customers have to sign up to see them (they also offer a best rate guarantee). Convincing customers to pay up front for savings is great if it locks them in but customers need to see the savings to know they’re worth it to want to sign on.
Join Club1’s Paid Loyalty Program Free
I made the case that customers will be reluctant to try the site if they have to pay up front. People are skeptical of brands, and companies need to show value first. They came back with well if you’ll share it with your readers, we’ll offer a year’s membership free inclusive of their loyalty program offering 5% towards future bookings.
That’s actually a great deal for customers and a great deal for them. You’ll make a booking if they have the best price. Then going forward they’re going to have the best price with the kicker of the 5% head start on the cost of future trips.
Each time you book you make it more likely that the numbers will make you come back to book again. That’s exactly what you want in a loyalty program, encourage repeat business while offering a better deal to your best customers.
So they agreed to let View from the Wing readers sign up with their rewards program for free for a year. What’s more they committed that the one year membership “does not auto-renew or auto-bill.” I insisted on that, but they were completely amenable. You do need to confirm a mobile number to join the rewards program.
Since this membership site often offers great deals it’s worth signing up to be able to check their rates, to keep them in your bag of tricks. And it’s a better deal than ever before since their rewards membership usually runs $99 but they’re allowing no cost signup to that program for View from the Wing readers, which will be valid for a year.