Every hotel booking site claims in some way to give you “the best rates” or “the best price,” but are they really showing you the best deal for you?
Why do some properties get placed at the top of the search results instead of others? Can you believe Booking.com when they say there are only “2 rooms left at this price”?
Can you believe it when Expedia tells you a displayed price is slashed from the normal one–and that there’s only one room left?
As you’ve probably guessed, the answer is “not exactly. ” Booking.com is constantly testing ways to get you to commit and one of them is by creating artificial scarcity. Often if they are telling the truth when they say they only have four rooms at that price, other sites may have plenty. It just means the Booking.com allotment is almost sold out.
That price you see above from the Expedia page is not special to Expedia. I saw the same rate on other sites, including Wyndham’s own and Bonwi’s, but without any scare language about that price being about to disappear.
The Games Hotel Booking Sites Play
These practices are nothing new, but it gets worse. You would assume that by using a site that presents multiple prices from multiple sites, you would get the best possible deal, right? If Trivago or HotelsCombined shows you the lowest rate across every online travel agent they track, you should be able to trust that you’re seeing the best rate, right? That’s what the Trivago guy or gal (depending on your nationality) keeps telling you in the TV ads.
Alas, it’s all a game. According to this article in Travel Pulse, “Trivago admits to misleading its customers” and could face more than $10 million in fines from the the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Trivago essentially led customers to believe that the results page had the lowest prices, but the ACCC discovered cheaper deals in the “more deals’ section which customers were not made aware of.
It came out that one of Trivago’s favorite tricks was to compare a standard room on one site with an upgraded room at another site and then show the difference as a big discount. They also “prioritized advertisers who were willing to pay the highest cost per click fee,” said the ACCC in a statement.
Here’ s the most telling admission:
Trivago has since updated their website to tell customers that hotels are ranked by ‘compensation paid by the booking site.’
In other words, if Hotels.com is paying them a higher click-through rate that Agoda, they are going to show you that the Hotels.com rate is lower, even when it’s not. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of using a site comparison tool like this?
How to Be Sure It’s a Great Hotel Deal
If you book through Bonwi, you’re guaranteed to get the best price available. We’ve even compared their rates (and points paybacks) to the ones you find from the hotel chain itself, like with IHG, Marriott, or Hilton. We’ve also compared the rates between Bonwi and Hotels.com.
There is one huge difference though in how the properties are displayed or ranked. The automatic sort in Bonwi is to show you the highest payback in points. In other words, the prime filter above all others is to show you which is the best deal for you. Which booking will result in the biggest points payback–the biggest rebate?
If you search Orlando on Expedia for dates in February, it’s hard to know how you’d find the best hotel price for you. The first result has “Sponsored” in tiny type, the second is a random medical center Hampton Inn, the third is $730 a night, and the fourth is a downtown Aloft hotel. How do these end up at the top? Well one is a paid ad, first of all, and placement of the others is a mystery. They’re not showing you the biggest discounts or the cheapest prices.
Let’s compare that to what you see on Bonwi if you pull up the same dates. You will always see the hotels with the biggest point paybacks at the top, regardless of price. I didn’t show the first few results because those are expensive Disney resort properties with huge points payoffs. But scroll down a bit and you still get a big rebate for that booking—enough to get you another hotel room somewhere or around $200 in flight credit.
You’ll notice that I clicked the “Compare Public Prices” for that second listing. It shows what the other major booking prices are charging. That way you can be sure you’re always getting the best hotel price—without any fake discounts or sorting tricks.
To get the best rate for you every time instead of what is best for the booking site, head to Bonwi.com. You’ll get the best hotel price and the biggest payback you can use for more travel.