In our post How to score a discount on the second room we already mentioned that we prefer to use the hotel’s website to book a 2-room arrangement (with 1 room for the parents and 1 for the kids). After all, this gives you a better chance at scoring a discount on the kids’ room. But if the city or region you’re targeting has different options for family rooms than you may find a better deal using a booking engine. But how can you be sure to book that family room at the best rate? Where are you likely to find the best offers? Read our best practices in this post.
Our preferred booking engines
In order to understand the booking game we’ll have a look at the different types of booking engines:
- On one hand there are the online travel agencies or OTA’s allowing you to directly make a booking (such as Booking.com).
- On the other hand there are the meta-search engines or aggregators comparing the offers of different online travel agencies (such as Trivago).
Both types are very well represented online, which can be overwhelming. Yet, only a handful of big players choose to advertize on the European websites so Europeans only even get to see the tip of the iceberg. So where exactly can you find them? CosmopoliClan’s favorites are HotelsCombined and Momondo simply because these meta-search engines compare the offers of more online agencies. This ncreases the chances of finding that sweet deal.
Putting those engines to the test
So let’s put these meta-search engines to the test! In this example we’ll be looking for the a family room at the best rate in Milan for a 2 night stay.
- Trivago: €338,30
- HotelsCombined: €200
- Momondo: €200,19
There’s also a new player in town, GoSeek. This is not the average meta-search engine because it displays not only the published hotel offers but also the unpublished ones. You can then apply the discount code displayed to the online travel agency’s site. By selecting more than 2 adults in one room, you might just find that deal on a family room.
Tricks for a family room at the best rate
Apart from choosing the best search engine, there are some hacks that will make sure you get the best possible offer on your family room:
Don’t take the rate displayed by the aggregator as final but click on the offer to be forwarded to the actual offering online booking agency. That way you’ll make sure to see the correct offer for the selected room type, taxes included. Do take into account the city tax that will be charged in the hotel. It is applied by the city where you’ll stay in order to welcome visitors and differs per city. That’s why this tax is never a part of the booking cost.
Change the country settings
Try to browse in a different country version of the same OTA, for example in the .es or .pl version. In some exceptional cases this does influence the rate offered. Do keep in mind that the version you’re browsing in will sometimes determine the language of customer service. So potentially, this might get you in trouble if you should need to contact them.
Best price guarantee
Rebook and cancel a refundable rate
A last trick we use to find that family room at the best rate, is simply booking the room several times. Huh? If the price difference between the non-refundable and refundable rate in the property of your choice is to be neglected, then make sure to choose the refundable one. Unless it concerns a last-minute booking. The CosmopoliClan keeps track of the price evolution of our booked property every few weeks. If prices drop then we book the new rate and cancel the earlier reservation. Do it in this exact order! If not, you might risk the cancellation of the prior booking to influence the price of every new booking. And that way you will miss out on the sweeter deal.
There are web services out there that keep an eye on the rate changes and either inform you of the new price or even rebook you. So basically, they do the hard work for you. And the best part is that it doesn’t cost you anything! So, how do they make money? Well, they simply earn a commission based on the new booking. So it’s a win-win: You get a cheaper room and they get a commission from the new booking. Here are 2 such services that help you to book a family room at the best rate.
It is still an unknown player in Europe which explains why the only available language being English and currency USD. But don’t let this stop you from using this smart service! Tingo rebooks you (without consulting you first) based on the price drop level that you determined. So, let’s say your set your price drop level set at $20. As soon as this service finds your room at a rate that’s $20 or more lower, it will automatically rebook your room (for free) at this lower rate.
If that’s a bit too aggressive for you, then Pruvo might be more for you. This service doesn’t rebook you but simply sends you an email as soon as the price drops. That way it’s up to you to decide whether you book the new rate. So no need to give them your credit card details, they do the work but let the actual rebooking up to you. Nothing to loose, lots to gain!
Go book that family room at the best rate
Do you have more hacks to add to this list? Or do you an have experience with these mentioned or other websites that you care to share? Then let us know! Because now you have all bases covered when it comes to scoring a great deal on a family room for your next vacation with the kids!
Screenshots and rates mentioned, date from 29th March 2016. This is the day I wrote and published the Dutch version of this post. But I committed a rookie mistake and neglected to switch the language to English. Therefore some screenshots are in Dutch. However, you can rest assured that all essential information such as hotel name, dates, room type and cost is universal. So, English speakers will be able to follow.
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