The goal of Extreme Hotel Deals (EHD) is simple: find and share exceptional hotel deals. We are members of the larger travel hacking community focusing on the niche of hotel deals. Occasionally we also feature other deals and tricks.
We started as a small group of deal finders on travel message boards and have collectively shared 1,000 deals since 2013! Some are chain wide allowing thousands of people to get almost free rooms around the world, others are single day deals where only a few rooms are available. It’s a wild and unpredictable ride. We pride ourselves on the fact that 99% of our content comes from us. We are not one of the million copycat websites/blogs, reposting from other websites and travel message boards without contributing, and we know from the thankful messages and report-backs over the years that many of our deals allow people to enjoy the kind of aspirational trips that would otherwise be beyond their means. We like what we do.
To answer reader questions and provide more information for those new to “the game” we are now offering this informational guide.
We hope you will forgive any oversights and send along your feedback.
Where Extreme Hotel Deals come from
Tricks we won’t promote
How to get the deals. The Importance of being first
Is the deal really gone
Where to book
Best booking practices
After you book
Problems at the hotel
After your stay
Guide to dealing with hotels that try to cancel: Negotiating and counter-offering. Talking Points. Compensation reports
Being a good member of the travel hacking community
Guide to Extreme Hotel Deals
The single most common question we get from a first time visitor to www.extremehoteldeals.com is “wow, 75% off, are these deals real?” followed by “Where do these deals come from?”
The first question is easy. Yes! These are real deals! Anything on our website was publicly advertised for sale by a hotel or booking site. Don’t take our word for it, check out testimonials from readers staying on these rates. We generally only share deals that the average hotel shopper would stumble across themselves.
The question of where they come from is a little more complicated and nuanced. We don’t investigate the origin of every rate and promotion that is publicly offered/advertised. We expect, much like you would for any other store, that it is valid. Over the years we have seen some broad categories deals fall into.
-Promo rates are loaded by hotels trying to engage in viral marketing. They offer a small number of rooms on limited dates. This draws huge traffic and attention creating a net gain despite losing out on the original sticker price of the rooms. Ex: Hoxtons famous $1 room sale.
-Booking site start-up companies undercut competitors prices or offer generous sign-up bonuses and referral credits. They take a loss on bookings to stand out in a crowded marketplace and acquire new customers. Ex: Travelpony bursting on the scene with free rooms and 5* at 70%+ off.
-Existing hotels and booking sites partner with other companies. This subsidizes the booking sites loss so the other company can get the word out and acquire new customers. Ex: In 2014 Visa Checkout partnered with Orbitz to offer $100 off a $100+ hotel booking resulting in tens of thousands of free bookings.
-Booking sites offer, intentionally or accidentally, promo codes that stack with existing offers or have no minimum purchase amount. Sometimes the company is viewing this simply as advertising where they have budgeted a certain amount for the promotion and will end the promotion after x number of bookings, so they don’t always care if the rooms are free or not. Ex: Hotels.com $50 off any 5* hotel gave thousands of free rooms away.
-Individual hotel employees, with or without the ok of higher-ups, enter unusually low rates into the system in order to boost occupancy rates or meet specific personal (or hotel wide) incentive targets. By limiting the scope of the low rates they avoid undercutting their brand pricing floor while grabbing “on a whim” travellers who are only booking due to the deal.
-Unusual circumstances come together. Ex: A hotel caters to business travellers who aren’t around on weekends. The Sunday directly following Thanksgiving is expected to be dead. The hotel knows this and enters a really low rate. They don’t consider they have an ongoing promotion code for a flat 30% off when booking 30 days in advance. The result is a ridiculously, perhaps unintentionally, cheap all-in price. Or, the same scenario but instead of a 30% code the booking is eligible for a best rate guarantee claim that offers a 25% additional discount.
-Hotel employees mess-up or automatic rate setting software glitches. This re-occurs disproportionately at specific hotels and with specific booking sites. Rushed employees, insufficient training, random errors of chance, sub-par IT departments. Ex: You see a booking site offers every room type at the same rate. Maybe the lowest room type is an intended rate and the rest aren’t.
-Automated rate adjustment software undercuts competitors, creating a downward loop. Hotel loads unusually low rate, booking site A rate matches hotel, booking site B then undercuts A, etc. These aren’t necessarily “mistakes” but they also can lead to quite low prices and will often be manually altered once mass bookings are noticed.
Tricks We Won’t Promote
You will never see any kind of tricks on our site that we know to be illegal. Beyond that, as a general rule, we do not promote altering code, intercepting web traffic, or in any way manipulating systems through unusual manual processes. This isn’t a video game from the 1990s. Don’t expect any “open first screen, forward, then back, enter promo code, hit refresh, open up 2nd window, press up.” We know those approaches are out there, and no disrespect to the players, but that’s not our style.
How to get the deals. The Importance of being first
If you are ready to book deals, or your on our email newsletter and wondering why you’re having trouble getting the hotels, please remember these are often limited time offers. The best deals and tricks often sell out or get pulled within an hour or less. There is not usually time to do much besides look at dates and buy. Your best chance is to set up a real time notification system that gives you a push notification, such as a message popping up on your phone, a text, etc. A lot of people rely on a passive notification where they have to refresh a website or choose to check their email. This puts you at a huge disadvantage. How to get real time push notifications from Gmail for emails only from specific senders How to get real time push notifications on twitter
Is the Deal Really Gone?
Sometimes you will see the quoted price, click to book and find that the room has repriced or is no longer available. Drats! It’s a very frustrating experience. Just as with flight tickets, remember that rates will sometimes disappear from sites at different times. Our method is to click a number of links from our preferred sites, and then just go down the line attempting to book.
Where to Book:
If there is a preferred booking site it is almost always available through the link we include in our post.
In our experience there are four tiers of booking sites, from best to worst:
1st: The booking sites who are the most brand conscious such as Orbitz, Expedia, Mr and Mrs Smith, Tablet, Jetsetter, Travelocity or direct through the hotels website. Also, booking sites connected to airlines and financial service companies such as Amex travel, AA miles etc.
2nd: The most well known prepaid voucher sites. Such as Amoma Galahotels LMT
3rd: Everything else, except…
4th: Sites that put your booking as “requested” and require a manual follow-up after the fact. These never work out.
Best Booking Practices:
Here are a couple tips that will save you a lot of potential headache down the line.
1: Always use a Credit Card. Debit cards and paypal can be a headache if there is a post-stay dispute. Credit Cards are consumer friendly in making it easy to dispute charges and have the advantage that your money isn’t tied up after cancelling.
2: Always book a prepaid, non-refundable room if it’s available and you’re sure that the dates work for you. There is less chance the rate will be disputed and negotiating is easier.
3: Carefully familiarize yourself with the booking sites terms and conditions on cancellation and changes. Some sites, especially European ones, can be confusing. They often advertise “free amendments” or “only $1 to reserve.” The former meaning if you want to change dates you can apply the value of your booking and the later simply that you will be charged the full amount prior to your stay. Neither mean free refunds or cancellation.
4: Always take a screen-shot of the first search results, the final screen where you enter your CC, and any post purchase confirmation screen. If you are charged more later or there is a dispute on what rate was being offered this is your only real proof!
5: Save a copy of the terms&conditions for booking and for any specific discount code you used. Occasionally companies have changed these ‘after the fact’ and attempted to apply them retro-actively.
After you Book:
1: Check your email for a confirmation and confirm that the dates, price, and room type are as intended.
2: Wait a reasonable amount of time before making other travel arrangements, especially anything non-refundable.
3: Within a couple days check your CC to see whether a charge has posted.
Problems at the Hotel: Check-in/Check-out:
In our experience it is almost unheard of for a hotel to attempt to get more money from you during check-in or check-out without any prior communication there is a problem. In the rare case that happens, we would recommend that you pay whatever the hotel says is the new rate for the room. Use the same credit card you used to originally book or secure the room. It is easy to contest any additional charges above the original agreed amount with your credit card. The very few cases we have heard of like this were all resolved in the consumers favour. Worst case, contact a lawyer after you get home, although we are not aware of this ever becoming necessary.
After your Stay:
Leave feedback for the hotel!!! There is no better way to reward, or punish a hotel, than leaving feedback on TripAdvisor and social media. When successfully taking advantage of great deals you should rate with unusual generosity.
First, don’t panic. If you are willing to spend the time to engage the booking site and hotel most cases can be resolved in a satisfactory manner.
Receiving a notice is the start of the process, not the end. When there’s a problem the go-to for hotels/booking sites is to present the situation as a fait accompli. Expect their communications to be peppered with definitive language that your booking won’t be honoured, that changes are impossible, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of people get intimated by this and give up.
Start by moving the discussion to whichever email you have that presents you in the most legitimate and high powered light. A work/company email is better than a generic hotmail address.
To fully understand the situation you are going to need to try, at a minimum, to exhaust back and forth communications with the booking site, then with the basic contact at the hotel, then the hotels social media, and then higher-ups at the hotel/corporate. You may decide this is not worth the time but without doing so it is impossible to say the advertised rate was rescinded.
Throughout the process it’s critical that you never agree to voluntarily cancel or amend your booking if the end result won’t be satisfactory.
Our standard on stubbornness is as follows- imagine you realize that you (over)paid by booking a hotels rack-rate when usual rates were available elsewhere. You now contact them to renege on a “non-refundable” room… That’s how hard you should fight attempts to renege on a “non-refundable” room you’ve purchased, paid for, and they have confirmed.
How you approach these situation is of course up to you and we encourage you to apply a standard of reasonableness. If a rate appears to be an obvious mistake and you are contacted in a reasonable amount of time it may be best to simply drop it and move on. It’s best to think of those kinds of cases as a lottery.
No matter what the situation is never get rude or disrespectful. Aim for polite, insistent, and flexible.
Starting with your initial reply make substantial, well crafted arguments. Don’t just say “this is bs.” Do ask questions. Keep talking and don’t be the one to close the door on a resolution. Gather as much information as you can throughout the discussion. If the booking site claims the hotel is saying something, ask who they are talking to at the hotel.
If it becomes clear you can’t get any further with the person in question move on. Often the first people you encounter just paste boilerplate language and are not in a decision-making role. When this becomes clear move on in this order- booking site to hotel, hotel to hotels social media, hotels social media to higher ups at the booking site and the hotel or corporate chain (if a brand). Before giving up don’t be afraid to message the CEO, hotel manager, etc.
In a lot of these cases higher ups want to help. They often genuinely care about the perception of the brand, can help you when front-line staff may not have the power to, and are more reluctant to renege on a contract.
At the start or somewhere during the process you may be offered a “compromise” rate. They will say something like “The normal room price is $225/night, you paid $57. We are willing to offer you a special compromise rate of $134. etc.” The first thing to do is to check the usual non-sale rates. If it is truly in the middle the offer may be worth considering. If they aren’t, point this out. If you are interested in negotiating this is a possible time to suggest an alternative rate. In our experience the hotel itself will decide and you will usually need to end up talking to them.
When you are talking to a decision maker at the hotel is when actual negotiations usually happen. Try to figure out what the bottom-line is for the hotel, and then offer creative solutions. Perhaps your reservation includes amenities such as parking or packages you won’t need or don’t care about. Maybe you booked two rooms but could live with one if they allowed four people and provided two beds. Maybe you don’t mind a shorter vacation. If it’s a busy season, maybe you are willing to move dates to a range of their choosing at the original rate.
Alternatively, you can propose accepting their compromise rate offer if they sweeten the deal. A hotel may be uncompromisingly focused on an absolute bottom-line rate. This is often the case where they have decided on a rate offer that will apply to a large group of people. In these cases they may have no problem throwing in sweeteners such as an upgraded room, breakfast, parking, extended dates, bar credit, etc because it still allows them to tell others who inquire that no one is getting a better rate.
There is no one script that will be best because each booking has a specific context. Here are some generic arguments we have found effective.
-Express disappointment: “
-Not Obvious Mistake: “In regards to the discounted rate, it is not out of line with other rates offered for similar class hotels in the area. For example ____”
-Advertised Sale %: “”Your website advertises hotels at “up to __% off” You solicit business saying these are “” “” deals.”
-Elapsed Time: “X numbers of months is an unreasonable amount of time to wait until contacting customers about a problem that no doubt was apparent shortly after it occurred. Whatever the other arguments are, this delay in and of itself led me to believe my booking was secure. I would ask for an exception to be in consideration of this and that my reservation will stand as confirmed.”
-Already Made Plans: “I have already spent ___ on non-refundable airfare, tours, train tickets. Attached please find my flight receipt. I made these purchases in good faith based on a purchased room that was listed as non-refundable/non-cancellable. If the hotel intends, x months after you confirmed my booking, to renege on my contracted room are you willing to compensate me for the costs I will incur to cancel the rest of my trip?”
-Terms&Conditions: “I have thoroughly read the initial terms&conditions of my booking. I do not see any language allowing cancellation for the situation you have described. In light of this I do not believe you have grounds to void our contract and would kindly request the reservation stand as is.”
-Indicate willingness to compromise: “I hear you that the hotel is in a difficult position. I am sympathetic. I believe a mutually satisfactory resolution is possible here and am willing to be flexible. Would you be the person at the hotel I should talk to or is there someone else I could call?”
Cancellation Compensation Reports: Updated: April, 2016
In some cases booking sites and hotel chains wish to renege on rates they have advertised. Sometimes they will ask you to cancel your booking in exchange for credit/status. These are reader reports of what they have received.
Tablet: $100 credit+free tablet plus, $50 credit.
Expedia: $25 coupon, $50 coupon. Expedia Rewards Points. Expedia Rewads Silver.
Orbitz: $25 credit, $50 credit, $150 credit. Orbitz Rewards silver.
Travelpony: $50 credit. $100 credit.
Intercontinental Hotel Group: 5k points. 25k points. Free night.
Hilton: 5k points. 10K points.
Individual Hotels: Free parking, free breakfast, free dinner, $100+ credit during stay,
Be a good member of the travel hacking community:
1. Book hotel stays you actually want and might use. Don’t be greedy and book a ton of hotel rooms. Book what you actually expect to use.
2. If you share a deal always give credit by linking to the original source/url. Letting people know where you found the deal is a common courtesy. Don’t be one of those people or blogs that lies by omission, trying to make yourself look good by tricking people.
3: If you find a deal share it with the community. You can shoot us an email, or post it on another message board such as the hotel deals section on Flyertalk.
Copyright 2015 ExtremeHotelDeals.com