Saturday, March 8, 2008

BOOKING TRAVEL


Update (01/01/09) While reading this post, check out this article for more helpful info: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123059008067340719.html


THE CHEAPIOSITY WAY

This subject has been done practically to death. BUT (and we say this with all false modesty) we do it better. No one travels better and cheaper than we do. Trust us. Your savings will be HUGE if you're willing to put in just a little effort.
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Start here:
In the March 2008 issue of Conde Nast Traveller on page 65, you'll find their very useful
"Ultimate Guide to Travel Websites"
http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/detail?articleId=11935
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FYI: CHEAPIOSITY likes http://www.travelaxe.com/
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You will need to download a small amount of software, but the savings you find will make it more than worth your time and trouble.
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Travelaxe monitors a number of travel websites (hotel, car rental, airline, etc.) and lists the rates they find on each site. For example, at the Ritzie Ritzie Hotel* in Miami, during the time period you want a room, Orbitz can get it for you at this price, Hotels.com offers it for this price, etc. Travelaxe then links you to the specific websites: (Orbitz, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc.) to book your reservations at the rate you've selected.
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*(Sadly, the Ritzie Ritzie Hotel in Miami is not an actual place. But wouldn't it be the perfect hotel if it were?)
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Here's the CHEAPIOSITY approach to arranging quality travel at bargain basement prices. First, check Travelaxe for deals that sound especially promising.
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Then phone or go directly to the hotel, airline or car rental website and see if you can find the same price or better. (CHEAPIOSITY recommends you book directly rather than through a third party whenever possible.) To avoid problems later on, ask for confirmation that the third party site has a legitimate affiliation with the hotel/airline/car rental agency.
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For example, friends of ours were going to Boston last summer. (Yes, CHEAPIOSITY has lots of friends who tend to call before making travel plans. Do we feel used? Yes. Do we mind? No. Well, maybe a little. Would we rather they followed our advice and booked their travel for themselves like real grown-ups? Heck yeah. Failing that, do we expect lovelier and more generous birthday gifts from these friends in future? You betcha.)
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Anyway...We found our "friends" a great deal on Travelaxe at the 5-star Langham Hotel for 50% less than the published rates of that hotel or any other competing luxury hotel. When we contacted the Langham by phone, they would not offer us the rate posted on the Travelaxe website ($200 vs $400+) but they did confirm that they do business with the Travelaxe listed website (let's call them xyz.com for this example). Reassured, we booked our friends' reservations through xyz.com, and our friends loved the hotel. Bottom line? We found a 5-star hotel at 3-star prices...the motto we live by.
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Let's review: We started off with Travelaxe, comparing downtown Boston hotel prices for the desired dates. (Travelaxe compiles this data from the major travel booking websites that allows you convenient one-stop price comparison.) When we found a price we liked, we checked the specific hotel's website to see if we could find a low price match. Since their website rate was significantly higher than the one quoted on Travelaxe, we called the hotel's 800 number (not the Langham Hotel's central reservations number for the chain but the Boston hotel's 800 number) to ask them directly. They would not honor the low rate quoted on Travelaxe but they did confirm that xyz.com was authorized to sell their rooms. We then booked the room for the low rate through the Travelaxe website's link to xyz.com. We got a written confirmation from xyz.com and phoned the hotel to confirm the reservation 24 hours before our friends' arrival to avoid any mix-ups, getting the name of the person who confirmed the reservation. This may sound like a lot of steps, but the whole procedure took less than 10 minutes and saved our friends HUNDREDS of dollars.
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Major cities like Boston and New York City have hotel rates that go into the stratosphere, but there are bargains to be found, even at the height of the summer tourist season. Shop on the third party websites first, then call or go to the hotel, airline and car rental websites and see if you can find the same price or better.
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FOR YOUR PROTECTION: Confirm your deal directly before you book with a third party. When you book your travel, get written confirmation. Then call the day before to confirm. Take names. Mix-ups happen, so get in the habit of protecting yourself with a paper trail.
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CHEAPIOSITY likes http://www.seatguru.com/ for picking airline seats, http://www.yapta.com/ for checking if air prices for a specific location have gone up or down. Driftr.com is a great site to post your trip pictures and comment on your travel experiences. We also subscribe to our favorite airlines' weekly sale newsletters, http://www.smartertravel.com/, http://www.budgettravel.com/, http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/, http://www.vacationstogo.com/ (very good for tours and cruises), http://www.flightstats.com/ for arrival and departure information, http://www.farecompare.com/, and http://www.milemaven.com/, http://www.farecast.com/, http://www.hotelchatter.com/
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Don't forget to check out organization discounts:
AAA, AARP, Costco, hotel rewards (Starwood, HiltonHonors, etc.)
And take full advantage of your frequent flyer miles and credit card mileage programs.
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Whew, that's enough to get you started on travel.
Go forth and save.
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And spend what you save on a little something special.
Like gasoline.
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Come back and visit us soon for more CHEAPIOSITY.
Blog updates promised weekly.
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If you have something you need to buy and want to know how to get it cheaper, write us.
We're never short on opinions.
And bargains.
And advice.
And it's all FREE.
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How very CHEAPIOSITY of us.
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COMING SOON:
Digital Converter Box
Sending Packages the CHEAPIOSITY Way
Coupons! Coupons! Coupons!
Coffee
Car Buying

6 comments:

Sebastian said...

Looks like an interesting site. With our economy going down the tubes, every panny saved is a penny saved!

We'll check in regularly to see what's new.

Sebastian said...

New info was interesting and useful. I HATE Suzie Orman so I wasn't at all surprised to read your comments. Will be studying your info on identity theft. Thanks

TEAM CHEAPIOSITY said...

Oh, silly Sebastian. You left your comment about our Blog #2 on the comment space for Blog #1. Two left paws? But seriously, all the staffers at CHEAPIOSITY appreciate your enthusiasm, if not your aim. Why do you hate Suzie Orman so much?

loginsheroes said...

your photo of your team should be larger as you should show yourself off Cheapiosity rules

good work

David said...

I would just like to add another page to the list - globetaggers.com - an example of the new generation of travel sites.

Enars said...

I know a better hotel comparison site www.HOTELBOOKLET.com where you can compare and choose the cheapest room price out of of more than 30 major hotel reservation sites.

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