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Monday, April 30, 2012

Booking Hotels Online: Safe or Sorry?



Mondrian-Soho-garden


I am trying to cover a variety of topics and I have a looooong list of blogs that I want to get to but this one will be a quick one; and on a topic I have not covered yet.    That topic is travel.

In 2003 when I was planning my honeymoon, I used a travel agent.   In 2012, I book all travel online.    I would think that most people now do.   How to travel agencies stay in business?   It seems that the internet has the best pricing and sure, travel agencies get "deals" on selling certain chains and fill blocks of rooms at Marriotts and Hiltons, but once their fee is tacked on, does it really pay to do it with a travel agent?    Trip Advisor gives the reviews that you need, you can select your flights and in some cases, your seats online.

I am often weary of the hotels that I find on expedia and priceline though.   I fear that the rooms are discounted so low because of their location (near the elevator) or on a low floor (just across from the noisy pool or entertainment at night) or with a terrible view (of the side of the building next door.)   Sometimes you do get what you pay for.   Hotels have levels of rooms and booking on a website can be risky.    I have to be 100% sure that I am going to be happy with the room to book on a site like this.

But then I found this site.  http://www.hotelmode.com/
I have ZERO reservations (no pun intended) with booking on this site.   The hotels are all moderate to above, in terms of quality and reviews.   They seem to have discounted rates on the better hotels and they are very clear on the type of room that you will get.   You can book online, but there is also an option to call and speak to a LIVE person.....Just so happened that the day I called to make a reservation, I spoke to a lovely New Yorker (they are based in Queens) with an Irish accent who was a pleasure to deal with.    I booked a room for 3 nights at a hotel that would have cost (according to the website) between $369 and $459 a night.   Not only were they discounting the room per night, the 3rd night was FREE!    Really, 3 nights cost me less than $600!   Booking on the hotel site would have been $1200 at least.  I compared features such as sq. footage, room location, views, every single detail.    

Cosmo Pool

I highly suggest using Hotel Mode.   I think it's a cross between Expedia and Groupon!    If you have a favorite vacation spot, that you know well enough to speak of, I am asking you to do me a favor.   If you love to go to Vegas or to Miami....scout it out for me and let me know if my theory is correct.  (Or even NYC......the hotel selections are pretty nice!)
1.  Are the hotels on the site, higher quality than most?
2.  Are the price packages a fair amount less than booking on your own, through the site?

I would be interested in checking my theories out.   I am not able to test this theory on hotels in London.....or Paris.    I prefer to stay on "this side of the pond" with young kids at home.    :-)

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