By Bob Kocher
January 24, 2020
This week we are sharing information from questions that we are being asked about independent travel. We live in an independent society where people like doing their own thing, including booking travel. However, travel is a different matter in many ways when it comes to using a travel professional. We have shared before that there is a resurgence in the use of travel professionals' services besides the fact that fees are low and service and consumer protection high. So, this blog has a few tips for both those who want to book and those who ask for help.
Hotels, Condo Rentals and Airbnb
There are many companies and web sites that offer cut rate pricing for short, medium and long-range stays. Third party companies like Expedia buy inventory at a reduced price and mark it up accordingly. Accommodations that are listed on these company's search engines may or may not reflect the actual inventory of available rooms. The only way to determine true availability is to look at the provider's web site directly. Often the best rate can be found on provider sites and more important, you are guaranteed to get the room you want or better.
The most difficult part of booking rooms on third party sites is that you are not guaranteed to get what you saw as an example on the site when you booked. Every hotel has a standard class of rooms and when the hotels are close to or near sell-out, you are likely to get the lowest room type they have from third party vendors. If a problem with your booking occurs, don't count on getting much help. Phone calls have extreme wait times and you can encounter disconnects. In short, third party sites are not generally helpful in solving problems. I have experienced this frustration. If you choose to research on your own, a good site is Trivago. That site populates rates often from the property itself. I frequently call the properties direct on behalf of clients, and because we do a lot of hotel business worldwide I can get further discounts not shown on web sites and/or value-added extras, such as breakfast or transfers.
When it comes to Condo rentals, using Google to find independent sources is a useful tool. Another way of finding good rates is through Airline Vacation Package sites. These are companies like Southwest Vacations or United Vacation, etc. These companies are separate companies from the airlines. They have condo offers anywhere the partner airline flies. They can package housing, rental car, air and other services. I have had success booking this service for groups and independent travelers.
When it comes to B & B's there is more risk. Even with posted ratings, which can be made by friends and relatives of the provider, one cannot be sure about the units or neighborhoods until they arrive. Beth, from our office found a very good site called GoLightly. The site, which just recently launched, is a platform created by women that offers safe places for other women to stay when traveling. This means its going to be good for families and us fellows too.
In This Life will be launching a new service to provide condos, time shares and B & B's owned by our clients for booking. It will appear on our two web sites, In This Life.com and TravelSober.com next month. If you have a B & B or time share and want to have it listed on our site, contact our office at (805) 927-6910.
As always, we thank you for your business. Travel safe and TravelSober.