All of us love to travel! Who doesn’t? But the thing with traveling is that it can get pretty expensive, especially when it comes to accommodations!
Nowadays, even our trustee hostels can cost an arm and a leg! And sometimes, they cost just as much as hotels and resorts.
Sure, there are a lot of booking websites that allow you to find accommodations anywhere you want but are you really sure that your booking website is giving you the best deals? Are you really saving money? Well, if you’re here then that means that you’re having doubts or you simply want to know which booking websites will offer you better deals on accommodations!
We’ve looked into different booking websites and we’ve done the research on which websites will give you the best options so that you won’t have to! If you want to know which websites these are, then keep on reading!
Tips for Finding the Best Hotel Deals for Families and Groups
Truth be told, there is no such thing as “the best hotel booking site” because websites do not have the ability to offer you the best deals all the time. One hotel booking site might have better options today but might have the best one tomorrow.
Even when you’ve found the best hotel booking site for you, it gets tougher especially if you’re not traveling alone. You have to think of what others like or dislike, which they prefer, or if there are still rooms available for all of you!
Hotel booking sites are aware of this too. That is why these sites have set up their search engines with features that will help you flexibly search and filter out options based on your specifications.
But with all the features of hotel booking sites, sometimes it’s tough to know where to begin. To help you out, here are some tips that will help you find the best hotel deals for families and groups.
1. Start your search far enough in advance to be able to identify pricing trends
One rule in booking flights is that if we’re looking to save more, we have to book 2-3 months in advance, right? Well, this rule also applies to booking hotels and accommodations!
If you’re an advanced planner, then you’re probably already doing this. But for those who are not, you might want to change the course of your actions and start planning your trips weeks or even months before.
A perk of hotel booking sites is that they show you which month or week has the cheapest deals, so if you’re meaning to go on a trip on a budget, compare weeks and months from each other!
While you’re at it, make it a habit to compare hotel prices weeks or months before your scheduled trip. Just like flights, hotel rates change and fluctuate depending on their proximity to the check-in dates. You’ll also gain information on which hotel room is better for you in terms of budget and amenities.
2. Compare prices across hotel booking sites
Don’t just settle for one hotel booking site! Just like what we mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as the best hotel booking site.
Sometimes, other booking sites will offer you better deals, cheaper rooms, and bigger discounts! This goes hand-in-hand with planning ahead because if you plan ahead, you get to compare prices easily!
3. Check hotels directly
Hotels mean business and most of the time, they prefer if you booked directly with them! That’s why sometimes, they’ll undercut prices just so you won’t have to book from online travel agencies.
Doing this might seem like additional work but the good thing is that if you end up booking directly with your chosen hotel, you’ll be able to work directly with them too. You won’t have to worry about contacting an online travel agency about adjustments or problems because you already know who to discuss matters with.
4. Be sure to compare total price
Hotels can be sneaky sometimes as they might display base rates and hide other fees to entice you to book with them. That’s why we advise you to compare the total cost of hotels, not just the base rates, with each other.
Fortunately, online travel agencies will already provide you with a list of all the additional fees or tell you if there are none.
5. Don’t forget to read the fine print
Again, hotels can be sneaky! If there’s a time when you have to read the terms and conditions, this is it! No skipping or simply checking the box anymore. You MUST read the fine print!
“Why is it so important to read the fine print?”
It’s important to read the fine print when booking hotel rooms because if ever there are changes to your plans and you need to cancel or adjust the dates, hotels might require you to pay additional fees. You might also be shocked at other fees and price hikes when you checkout. And if you don’t educate yourself beforehand, then these will surely come as a surprise.
So, before you book anything, READ THE FINE PRINT THOROUGHLY!
6. Consider your group/family travel booking needs
Each person in the family or in the group has their own needs and desires. You can’t just book a room or a resort simply because YOU like it. You have to consult the people you’ll be traveling with, try to meet eye-to-eye, and if possible, decide where you’d like to stay together.
Similarly, check other hotel booking sites since they might have better deals for families and groups!
Now that we’ve gone through the tips you need to keep in mind when finding the best deals, let’s head on to the hotel booking sites we trust!
First on our list is Booking.com. Just like the name entails, Booking.com is a booking site that is easy to use! This Amsterdam-based online travel agency lets you search and book hotels, apartments, vacation homes, and other accommodations.
Booking.com is considered to be one of the largest online travel agencies with over 28 million listings. It has earned the trust of travellers around the world with its 23 years of experience in the travel and tour industry.
One reason why Booking.com is trusted by so many people is because of the website’s honest reviews. With a great amount of travellers booking straight from the website itself, this online travel agency presents reviews that are from actual hotel guests, not just reviews gathered from all over the internet.
And with many reviews, you can even sieve out important information from the accommodation such as smoke smell, noise, etc. Which allows you to make an informed choice.
It also displays all the additional fees that you will have to pay from the start, unlike other websites where fees are hidden until you’re about to book.
Its “Genius discount” feature is another thing that travelers love! It is when the website gives you a 10% discount simply by logging in when a Genius discount is available for a certain room type.
You found a better deal at another hotel? Booking.com will refund the difference for up to 24 hours before the desired check-in date! Just make sure that the offer was made online and is still available when Booking.com checks it.
Booking.com is available in over 40 languages!
You get special perks too if you sign up for their Genius Loyalty Program which gives you privileges such as free breakfasts and most importantly, room upgrades!
To find out how you can avail of these perks, learn more about Booking.com’s Genius Loyalty Program and sign up here! Booking.com is the site we recommend that you must check out!
Try Doing a Simple Price SearchBooking.com
|1. Transparency in additional fees
2. Genius Loyalty Program
3. Refund when better deals are found
4. Largest Search Results
5. Low-price guarantee
|1. Returns below-average prices
2. Loyalty points can’t be earned through Genius Loyalty Program
3. Uses pressure-sales tactics
The second one on our list is Hostelworld, an online travel agency focusing mainly on the hostel market. This OTA is more popular with backpackers because of its huge catalog of hostels that offer unique experiences at cheap deals.
Hostelword lists about 36,000 properties found in 178 countries and has over 13 million verified guest reviews!
Reviews are not just hearsay, they come from backpackers and travelers who’ve actually finished their stay at their chosen hostels. Review scores cover security points, location, services, cleanliness, amenities, and the overall atmosphere. Knowing these will assure you that despite the reputations of some hostels, the one you’re going to choose is worth your money.
Unlike Booking.com however, Hostelworld does not have a loyalty program which means you won’t get any rewards no matter how many times you book with them. Free cancellation bookings can sometimes cost as much or maybe more than non-refundable bookings.
Another helpful tool that Hostelworld has is its search filter which lets you filter results based on your preferred room type, the distance to the places you want to go and accommodation type. It is also group-friendly as you can optimize your search to the number of people you will be travelling with!
|1. Largest list of hostels
2. Spot-on reviews
3. Cheap prices
|1. No loyalty programs
2. Does not give rewards to
3. Free cancellation bookings
One way to describe HotWire is that the experience is unique compared to other online travel agencies. They provide Hot Rates for hotels, meaning you will be paying a cheaper price than retail prices. But unique in a way that HotWire chooses the hotel for you and you’ll only ever know what hotel it is after you’ve booked it.
You can even choose the neighbourhood you like by selecting the area on the map. Think of it like Russian Roulette but for hotels. Although you will be able to see the ratings, amenities, what neighbourhood it’s in.
If you plan on using HotWire, you need to be flexible and you need to be up for anything! The excitement you get from not knowing what hotel you’ll book is definitely one of the most exciting parts of HotWire.
These bookings are basically secret, unsold deals that hotels do not want to tell others. You’re actually getting an exclusive offer, a VIP treatment if you will. And if you’re meaning to save money, you can book a vacation package!
Check out Hotwire Here!
|1. Exciting experience
2. Money-saving deals
|1. Not knowing the hotel can
result in doubt and anxiousness
The next booking site on our list is one that has gained popularity in mainstream media in recent years.
Airbnb is a California-based online market where property owners can rent out their spaces or homes to travelers and backpackers.
The story behind Airbnb started when in 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia got broke and so they came up with the idea to rent out their mattresses to people who were attending a conference because hotels at that time were also fully booked. Little did they know that a few years after, their money-earning idea would blossom into a full-blown business in the hotel industry!
Property owners can put a part of their property or the whole area up for rental. Travelers can book a room, a bed space, or the whole area for a short period of time. But since you’ll be staying at somebody’s personal property, chances are there are some house rules that you must follow.
Airbnb has a lot of fun perks but another thing you must keep in mind is that since accommodations are from random property owners, you might not have an idea about what your overall experience would be. Do your due diligence and read the reviews. Some properties might end up nothing like what the advertisement said. Some property owners might not respond quickly or at all.
Still, this booking website is great for people who don’t like to worry about room availability at hotels. It is even perfect for people who are socially inclined since staying at Airbnbs makes it possible to get an insider look at your destination’s local life! Plus, rooms are usually bigger for a quarter of the price of a smaller space at a hotel!
Alone or in a group, there is surely an Airbnb perfect for you!
If you’re wondering what Airbnb means, the answer is, Air Bed and Breakfast!
The most exciting thing about Airbnb is the opportunity to explore and go beyond your limits since you’ll find properties that are unlike other hotels. Treehouses, for example! Ever dreamed of sleeping like royalty? Book a castle on Airbnb now! The choice is endless!
Check out apartment bookings on Airbnb now
|1. Exciting experience
2. Money-saving deals
3. Possibly bigger rooms
4. Wide variety of accommodations
5. Chance to experience
local life first-hand
|1. Properties are unpredictable
2. Some owners are unresponsive
3. House rules may exist
4. Minimum stays
5. Service fee for each booking
Tripadvisor is an American online travel company that offers bookings for anything travel-related. From hotels to restaurants to tours and attractions, Tripadvisor seemingly has it all!
If there’s one thing Tripadvisor is good at, it’s giving honest reviews. Reviews are brutally honest to the point where guests would post pictures and go into detail about something that they did not like about a particular hotel or attraction. May it be the place itself or the employees, reviews at Tripadvisor are the real deal.
However, there are some reviews that were found to have been made by people who got paid to write good reviews, made by friends of the property owners, or employees of the establishment but Tripadvisor has testified against this. Still, we believe that Tripadvisor is a great asset especially in planning your next trip!
Tripadvisor gathers similar deals from other online travel agencies to help you compare prices and find the best one that fits your budget! This does mean that when you book, you will be redirected to a different website.
A calendar is also available which shows you the dates with the cheapest deals. And if you’re not yet ready to pay, you can use their “book now, pay later” option too!
|1. Honest reviews
2. Compares prices
3. Functional calendar
4. Book now, pay later option
|1. Some reviews are questionable
2. Additional fees are not
shown from the start
3. Bookings are offsite
Try finding hotels and apartment bookings on Tripadvisor.
Kayak is an American travel company owned by Booking Holdings Inc. Sounds familiar? Well, Booking Holdings Inc. owns Booking.com!
But we’re done talking about Booking.com and we’re here to talk about Kayak! So, how does Kayak work?
Actually, Kayak is not an online travel agency. This site is similar to Tripadvisor where it will look at other sites and bring you the best deals. But the map feature on this site is the reason why travelers love Kayak.
The map feature in Kayak is a convenient tool that presents you with a detailed map of the destination you’re going to. Details include hotel locations, popular restaurants, sightseeing spots, shopping centers, and the best places to go at night! These are represented on the map as dots and by clicking the dots, you get more information and prices.
Kayak has a feature similar to that of HotWire where searches are opaque making bookings unpredictable! You won’t be able to know what accommodation you’ll get until you’ve booked it!
To do so, simply choose the Pricebreaker option in the filter tab. You’ll have the ability to book traditionally or explore more!
So, if you’re an adventurer like you already are and you want to try something new, Kayak is the safest option for you!
The site, itself, is straightforward. Nothing too fancy or complicated. You can include taxes and additional fees in the computations if you want, you can activate their “Price Alerts” to track deals, and with this comes its price predictor tool which tells you whether you need to wait a little longer for the best deals or book immediately!
|1. Able to compare deals from other sites
2. Detailed map
Exciting experience with
3. Simple interface
4. Price predictor tool
|1. Low prices are not guaranteed
2. Fewer options compared
3. Booking directly is not possible
Check out accommodation bookings on Kayak
Three Types of Hotel Search Engines
Before we do anything else, it’s best for us to really understand what we’re dealing with in terms of booking accommodations.
There are three types of booking websites for accommodations:
- Hotel’s Official Website– a website owned by the hotel business where you can book directly.
- Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)– online services selling travel-related products.
- Meta-search Engines (Aggregators)– online tools that retrieve information from the web data.
Hotel’s Official Website
Almost all hotel establishments have their own websites. These websites give you an overview of what the hotel is all about, hotel features as well as the ability to book directly.
The downside to using the hotel’s own website is that there are some that don’t offer direct booking or there are some hotels that don’t have websites at all! Hotel websites don’t often discounted deals which means that you pay the exact price they are offering.
However, hotel websites can give you exclusive offers and deals that Online Travel Agencies don’t have.
Online Travel Agencies
Online Travel Agencies or OTAs are websites that sell travel-related products and deals. These websites sleuth the internet and even other OTAs for the best or the lowest deals.
These online travel agencies will book or reserve rooms for you and they will also give you discounts that are only available on their websites, especially if sign up for a membership!
OTAs are not just limited to hotel rooms or other accommodations, you can also book flights, attractions, concert tickets, and more! Basically, all your travel needs are cataloged in the same place for you to access easily!
Aggregators a.k.a Meta-search Engines are online tools that search the web for information. They bring results back to you in one master list or by categories based on the search engines that they came from.
Aggregators simply provide you with information and don’t necessarily give you the option to book or reserve anything. Not all aggregators are good at what they do too. Since they simply gather information, there is a chance that the websites they bring back to you can’t be trusted, are unreliable, unfamiliar, or worse━ SCAMS.
What is the Best Type of Hotel Search Engine?
Each hotel search engine has its own perks but for us, we believe that Online Travel Agencies are the best. Here are the reasons why:
- OTAs find the most hotels compared to aggregators. Even though an aggregator’s purpose is to look for as much information about hotels and accommodations, Online Travel Agencies still yield more results.
- OTAs offer more than just accommodations. Most online travel agencies feature other deals for flights, trips, tours, attractions, and more! They basically are one-stop shops for all your travel needs!
- OTAs are convenient. Since you can book almost anything on online travel agencies, you don’t have to go out of your house or line up just to purchase tickets. They also do the computing for you so you won’t have to do all the math!
- OTAs offer exclusive discounts and deals. One of the reasons why travelers prefer booking at online travel agencies is that they can find the lowest deals here. They can also compare features and deals between accommodations to determine which one is the best. Memberships to these OTAs give you the privilege of discounts of up to 6%.
All these travel websites are great tools for planning your vacation or trip. We recommend them because these websites have helped us ease our travel worries and we want you to be as comfortable as you can too.
Still, before you head on to book at these websites, you may also check out the hotel’s official website first for special discounts offered by the hotels themselves. Then, you can head on to these booking sites to finalise your booking.
However, for us, the prices are usually better on the accommodation booking sites mentioned above, whom has the largest database for accommodations, which will save you money, time, and effort! Don’t forget also getting discounts and perks when signing up as a member.
Which among the six online travel agencies/booking sites have you used before? Were they good or bad? Comment down below and tell us more!