All That Glitters… A Simple Tip To Avoid Bad Travel Deals Even When They Look Good

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Last week, Rob over at the (always excellent) Head For Points flagged a very nice looking deal at Hilton’s 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel, via Travelzoo. £99 per for a 5* hotel in London, fully refundable, breakfast and a bottle of wine included – what’s not to like?

On the face of it, it really does look like a great deal – and TravelZoo is certainly well worth keeping an eye on more generally if you are looking to bag a travel bargain.

The problem is that, for some dates at least, you can get a cheaper rate by simply booking direct with Hilton:

In fact, all the way through to the beginning of May, rates are very similar on most dates to the TravelZoo ‘deal’:

As a Hilton Honors member (even without elite status) you could earn a decent amount of points if booking direct, which would more than offset any small difference in price. There is the possibility of cashback to consider as well.

If you are interested solely in getting the very lowest cash rate, rather than overall value, you can use sites like HotelsCombined to rapidly search a wide variety of discounted online travel agency rates too:

What about the free breakfast and wine?

Very fair question.

If you do not have elite status with Hilton Honors (and are not trying to gain it), then the TravelZoo voucher could well be an excellent option.

If you have Hilton Gold or Diamond status though, you will get breakfast anyway. You will also usually receive an upgrade, late check out, bonus points, and a welcome amenity (quite possibly the same bottle of wine!).

How to avoid bad ‘good’ deals

It is the case that on some dates, the TravelZoo vouchers will work out as the best value, regardless of all the above (assuming that the following restriction in the terms isn’t massively limiting: “Reservations are subject to availability and early booking is encouraged”). But, on other dates, they won’t – particularly if you have Hilton elite status.

Fortunately, there is an exceptionally simple way to ensure you always get a genuinely good deal – shop around. It only takes 30 seconds to quickly check the rate for the date/s you want with Hilton direct and with a site like HotelsCombined. It sounds obvious – and it is – but it’s a habit that is worth getting into.

Whenever you see a ‘great’ deal, always still do a quick check to see what the other options are; and remember to take things like status perks, bonus points, and cashback into account too.

Bottom line

To be clear, the reason I’m writing this isn’t to criticise Rob in any way (we genuinely love Head for Points) – almost the opposite. It’s a useful example precisely because Rob is so experienced and knowledgeable.

It can be very easy to get seduced by a shiny headline rate (and to be fair in the example above, on some dates, the TravelZoo deal will be the best option for some people). The key point is, regardless of how good a deal seems, always do two things:

  1. Check the small print
  2. Check the alternatives

That way, you can be sure that you always really are getting a good deal.

All that glitters…

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