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I first heard about this site from a review I read here on Ciao. When I decided to take a short break to London I decided to take a chance and give it a try. I couldn’t beat the price that I was offered, nor could I get anywhere near it so I am here to encourage you to try it too.
** Idea Behind The Site **
There are a lot of sites available on the Internet that offer cheap and discounted hotel rooms, but I have never come across one that works in quite the same way as this one. The idea behind the site is that instead of the hotel determining the price of something the consumer (you) should decide on their own price. It sounds too good to be true and in reality it is I guess. You are never going to get a hotel room for 1p a night or anything like that but as long as you are realistic you can find a hotel room for a price that you are willing to pay rather than what the hotels want you to pay.
** Services **
There are four different services offered on this site and these are described below.
The default search when you go to the site is the search for hotel rooms. Like other sites offering cheap hotel rooms you are required to enter the city you wish to stay in and the dates you wish to stay. Once you have chosen the place you want to stay you are normally presented with a map of the city and asked to select the areas you wish to stay in, allowing you to be as specific or general as you like with the location of your hotel (this is not available for all cities, although it has been for all the searches I have tried). The next step is to enter a price per night for the room. This is the price that you would like to pay. The site will offer you guidance on the sort of price that you should go for, but in my experience this is normally about double what you can get a room for so be brave and enter something a lot lower.
Once you have entered the details of your search the site is ready to go away and find a hotel for you. You normally get an answer pretty quickly. The site will send you an email when it has an answer for you and provide you with a link to a results page. One of three things can happen at this point: 1. Your price has been accepted and your hotel room booked 2. Your price has not been accepted but they have found a price near to what you wanted 3. Your price has been rejected.
If your price has been accepted then you will be given the details of the hotel that has been booked and a confirmation number, which must be taken to the hotel when you check in. If an alternate price is offered then you are given the choice of accepting the new price or not. If you choose to accept the new price then your room will be booked and you will be given the confirmation number.
The flights search works differently to the hotel search described above. The search begins by recording your requirements in terms of date, departure location, destination, number of passengers, class, transfers and ticket type. Once the details have been collected the site conducts the search, returning all the flights it finds. The flight search does not allow you to specify your own price and returns all flights that meet your criteria.
> Car Hire
The car hire search facility is a front to the www.holidayautos.co.uk website and uses their search facility.
This is a flight and hotel combined search similar to that offered on other sites. It allows you to pick you flights and hotel details in a single step. This facility does not allow you to specify your own price for the hotel rooms.
** How It Works **
Once you have entered the search criteria for the hotel search, as described above, you are required to login or enter some personal details, including your name and credit card details. Ordinarily I wouldn’t even consider using a site that requests this sort of information in advance, but this site does explain the reasons for doing it. If the price you enter is accepted then the room will be booked instantly to avoid you missing out on the price. For this reason, the site needs your credit card details to secure the room. You should consider this when specifying your initial price. I would always go a little lower than you would like to pay and then up your bid if you are unsuccessful. When the room is booked a full payment is taken for the room. This is non-refundable so be sure you want the room before searching.
If a similar rate is found to the one you requested then you will be shown the price on offer and asked to confirm if you would like the room or not. As above, of you accept the new price the full charge for your stay will be charged to your credit card and the room will be booked.
The hotel that the room is in is not revealed until after the room has been booked, but from what I can tell it is always a well-known brand hotel.
If your bid price is rejected you must wait 72 hours before repeating the same search. I think this is used as a deterrent from entering prices that are too low. You can modify your search slightly though and do it again, so if you are flexible this shouldn’t be a problem.
** Ease of Navigation/Use **
I found this site very easy to navigate around and to use. The basic site design is very basic which greatly aids navigation and ease of use. The site homepage contains the hotel search, which is far and away, the main feature and focus of the site.
Each stage of the search process is well documented on the page with easy to follow instructions and there is also a tutorial style page that can be access from the homepage that gives full details of the process.
** Customer Service **
At this stage I can’t comment on the quality of the customer service as I haven’t had need to use it. I guess that says something about the quality of the service.
** My Experience **
As I mentioned earlier I used this site to book a hotel when I made a short leisure trip to London. I was very flexible about where I was going to stay as I knew that during the day I would be out and about in the city and would probably only be sleeping in the hotel. For this reason it didn’t really matter where the hotel was. I entered a price of £30 per room (the site suggested something like £80 I think) for a 4* hotel in London. As I was flexible on location I selected most of the available areas. Sadly my price wasn’t accepted but I was offered a price of £41 a night. This was still a fantastic price as far as I was concerned so I took it. By the time I had paid the tax on the room and so on, the hotel cost me £50 a night.
When my confirmation came through I found that the room was in a Holiday Inn hotel in Kensington. I had been a little sceptical about the standard of hotel I would be given and was relieved to see that the room was in such a well-known hotel chain. Eager to find out how much I had saved I went to the Holiday Inn website and checked the price the room would have been had I booked it through their own website. At the time I could get a similar deal for £80 a night, so I had saved over £30 a night. I was impressed.
It got even better though when I arrived at the hotel, as I was upgraded to an Executive room which according to the board in reception was charged at £225 a night. I had paid £50 and was very pleased. You can read my review on the hotel (Holiday Inn Kensington Forum) to get a further review of the hotel and its facilities.
Since the success I had with this site I have recommended it to friends and family. They haven’t been able to find deals as good as I got but I know that they have been a bit more particular than I was.
** My Opinion **
I really like this site and think that it is well worth a look if you need a hotel room. The range of locations is good so you can get hotels in this country and abroad. The site is easy to use and does offer genuine bargains.
There are a couple of things that are worth noting about the site though. Firstly, the rate quoted is for the room and does not include breakfast. If you want breakfast in the hotel then this tends to be expensive to buy once you are there. Secondly, if your rate is accepted then the room will be booked for you so you need to be sure that you want the hotel. I tend to try and price trips up before I finally decide if I am going to go. This site is no good for that sort of speculation.
If you are going to use this site, I recommend being flexible as possible. The more flexibility in your request, the more chance there is that your offer will be accepted. Sounds fair enough to me when you consider the savings that could be made.
Having looked around the rest of the site I would say that the hotel search is the only one that is really worth looking at. The other searches are not really any different to those offered on other sites and are certainly no better.
great review, going now to check this one out. charlene
allissa 22.10.2004 18:27
great review sarah
katsthebest 19.10.2004 17:24
Interesting method - i hadn't heard of this website until now.
I'd probably be wary of not knowing which hotel i'd got until it was booked, but if my circumstances fitted the bill it sounds like value for money.