Finding and booking the perfect hotel for your European trip should be an easy task, right? After all, isn’t the Internet easy to research and book with confidence?
Yes and no. It has never been easy to get information about hotels around the world, but it can fall into the traps set by hotel marketers, intricate websites, and even other travelers.
Here are five tips that will make hotel research more efficient and cheaper to travel.
Tip 1: Beware of online hotel reviews!
Many travel websites offer hotel reviews submitted by readers. While most reviews are probably legitimate, we always recommend approaching these reviews with a healthy dose of skepticism. You don’t know who is sending this review, or why they are being sent.
For example, returning visitors are very concerned about writing an opinion about something M-A-D. They are often accused of a frustrating experience that is not the fault of a hotel.
Moreover, the owner of a hotel can “run away” from a competitor’s hotel with a nasty anonymous review and is not perceived. Conversely, hotel owners can give bright opinions. You never know where these opinions will come from.
Tip 2: Don’t confuse hotel “discounts” with good deals!
On some booking websites, you’ll be excited to use them with discounts at high rates; sometimes as big as 50%! Be skeptical.
When they associate with some of the hotel’s websites, they have to compete with other hotels to get attention. One way at the top of the list is to offer the biggest discount.
Guess what’s going on? Hotels first inflate their regular rates, then return those prices and “shrink” them to offer a room “50% off !!!” But no one would ever pay that “normal” price! It’s a hoax, however this hotel is located at the top of the list.
When you see deep discount claims, shop around and see what kind of reasonable trend rate you’re looking for.
Tip 3: Chain yourself!
When looking for smaller, independent hotels, you will often find more interesting, better located and cheaper hotels!
Large booking websites often prefer to deal with giant chains because they are easier to register and manage. If you only look at large sites, you won’t even know small hotels!
In many old European cities, strict zoning laws prohibit modern construction in their historic sites. That’s why huge chain hotels (non-luxury ones) tend to be on the outskirts of town, while cheap little hotels are located in old buildings in the middle of the action.
Spend time hunting away at independent hotels! Venere.com, Booking.com and EuroCheapo.com (which I edit) list smaller websites, Europe-based websites, smaller listings, non-chain and family-friendly hotels.
Tip # 4: Double check that hotel rate!
Call the hotel to check prices online before booking, as you may find the rate cheaper.
Booking websites charge the hotel a fee for making reservations. To cover this, many hotels receive an additional charge on the price of the “online” room, thus inflating the price.
Try searching for the hotel phone number and check the double prices! It can be very difficult, as most websites do not provide you with a hotel phone number. After all, they want to book through them!
And don’t worry about not being able to speak the language! Almost all the hosts in Europe can at least speak English for the prices for you.
Tip 5: Be careful when booking.
When we are researching hotel prices, we often come across popular booking websites that show the price of hotels at first, but we reveal a much higher total price when you are ready to enter your credit card information.
How can they do this? Here are some of their favorite tricks:
They wait until the last minute to reveal local taxes (which can be very high in Europe and are always part of the price!).
Another tactic is to deal with the “service fee” as they are already charging a 10% commission from the hotel!
More strictly, they invent some business around a “security fee”. Win, anyone?
We recommend that you only do this through booking websites that show the cost in advance.
Next step: Book with confidence.
Because we have overcome some of the tricks of the trade over time, you are better equipped for research and booking. And don’t forget to have fun! After all, you are going on a European adventure! Have a nice trip!