Purchasing a mini break or a full blown holiday can be a mind wrecking experience these days when you're faced with so many different offers and websites on the internet. Gone are the days when the only option you had was to book a holiday directly with a travel agent or ring up a brochure. These days there are thousands of websites, all which are competing to offer you the best price and it's hard to know which ones to trust. In most cases, many people will opt for the website that states 'discount' believing it is cheaper, but do you always get the best deal?
Last week my husband saw a deal on Groupon for a luxury spa break in the Lake District. The deals were £169 for a normal room, breakfast, four course meal, cream tea on arrival and spa access or £195 for the aforementioned but this time with a romantic suite which includes a four poster bed and a jacuzzi bath. Before booking the deal, my husband rang up the hotel to check the availability as it cannot be guaranteed on Groupon and the date is only two weeks away. The lower package had been sold out on the dates we wanted, but the higher priced package was available. During the phone call, the staff at the hotel informed us that if we paid £2 extra we both could have a full afternoon tea instead of cream tea and complimentary breakfast in bed, which would enhance our overall experience. This also meant that we got more for our money booking via the hotel rather than Groupon in this particular occasion.
Always ring the hotel first
I would always recommend that people check out the hotel website before booking through a comparison website to ensure you are getting the best deal and if you have any doubts, telephone them. Some hotels will prefer you booking directly with them as they can have a more hands on experience with their customers and if it's a special occasion, they are sometimes more likely to offer you discounts or a friendly treat on arrival.
If you have a particular hotel that you really like, shop around and don't fall for the first discount website that you find. Sometimes you can find a better deal if you invest more time into looking.
Read online travel reviews
Always make sure to read online travel reviews so that you can learn more about the hotel you are staying in and if you are booking through a discount website like Groupon or Wowcher, search for the term 'Groupon' or the website you booked with on the review page to see what other people using the same package thought about the hotel. Those with heavily discounted rates don't always get the same treatment as full paying guests and sometimes end up paying more than they anticipated - this is very rare, but it does sometimes happen.
Be flexible with your dates
If you are just looking for a quick getaway with no date in mind and no preference where you are staying, consider booking your hotel at last minute. The later you book your hotel, the more likely you are to get a greater discount as hotels will have rooms to fill.
Do you book your hotels directly?