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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Use Expedia to Save BIG with the Upcoming Holidays!

Some folks plan things well in advance.  Others don't like to, or don't have the time to plan as well.  My wife, Bindi, and I try to plan our trips in advance, and lots of the time we do.  But sometimes we just have to book last minute.  And we hate having to pay extra because of that!  Airlines tend to sting you the most when you book last minute with them. 

But did you know that booking last minute award flights (flights booked paying with points) are sometimes the biggest bargains?  We'll cover that in another post soon.

But what about hotels?  Are they more expensive when booked last minute?  If you think so, you could be wrong! 

Now, I need to preface this post.  

There are times when you definitely want to book a certain hotel, on certain dates, for a special occasion.  It may make sense in that case to book ahead and get exactly what you need for the trip. 

But what about other times?  Or, are you just a little bit flexible?  If so you could save a lot!

Our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - 40% cheaper by booking last minute!
In upcoming posts we are going to look at a few main travel sites and review:
  • Their pros and cons
  • When to use one site versus when to different one
  • When is it better to use the Australian Expedia, or the US Expedia?
  • Where do certain travel sites specialise so as to find the best bargains?  Europe, USA, Asia, Australia
In this post we will highlight the Australian Expedia site.  The US site offers great deals too.  But we want to use the Australian site when possible, so we don't have to calculate currencies in our head!

When is it good to use Expedia?  How can it significantly save you money?


Over the last few years Expedia has really grown in the lucrative market of last minute sales.  They've invested lots in their own brand promotion, and they've enticed the hotels to advertise when their otherwise empty rooms would go unsold.  This has been of mutual benefit to Expedia and the hotels.  It's filled rooms, and Expedia has emerged as a top player in last minute hotel rooms.

The best last minute deals are in the US, where competition is huge, and it has grown to include great last minute deals particularly in Asia.  Sadly, Australian hotels haven't really gotten with the program, so don't offer significantly great last minute pricing.  But there are deals to be had locally.  More about that in another post.

But maybe like us you love Asia.  Let's say you're going there, next month.  Lots of you might be.  You could score great prices on last minute bookings.  These are so good, that the more times my wife and traveled there, the more last minute we began to make bookings!  Sometimes, booking on free WIFI in the airport terminal, just 24 hours before arriving in a city, we saved a bundle.  And we did over and over again, while on the same trip.  

You might be thinking, but what if there are no rooms available when I travel?  Think again.  Just searching hotels in Bangkok, staying tonight for 3 nights, there are 527 hotels available.  You can believe they each have at least 10 rooms empty on average.  That's 5,270 rooms!!

Our hotel, Centara Grand Bangkok, 35% cheaper last minute - saving $140

We were upgraded since our 'cheaper' room wasn't actually available!      

So, how can you determine what are the best last minute deals?  Notice how to find deals in this dummy booking I created, as follows.

I have searched for a 3 night stay starting tonight, in Bangkok.  Short stays are the cheapest deals, since the hotels offer the best prices for short last minute stays.  Why?  They hope you'll stay on after you realise what a deal you got (which you did!), and that you will pay higher regular rates to stay a 4th, 5th, or 6th night.  I never do that!  

The front desk can hardly EVER beat the online travel agent sites like Expedia.  That's because large travel sites are manipulating millions of room prices to fill rooms!  Desk clerks can't compete with what their own hotel marketing personnel, and Expedia are doing.

If we like the hotel, and want to stay longer, we simply go back to Expedia and book another 2 or 3 night stay, extending our time in the hotel. 


Go to Expedia.com.au, and choose your city, star rating, amenities, location, basically what room is the minimum you'd accept. 

Then look for hotels which have highlighted banner ads above the hotel rate, which says 
"spring sale: save.."
"summer sale: save.."
"24 hour deal: save..", in this case 57%!
Save 57% on this 3 night booking, simply by WAITING until the night you are staying, to book!

And to sweeten the deal, you're only paying for the hotel the night you need it.  Not months in advance, since Expedia typically charges at booking time.  And should something go wrong and you can't travel or fly, you're not losing money on hotels you booked, but ended up never using.

Now, you could head over to agoda, wotif, or other sites to compare prices.  I did that, and found them to be an average of $100 higher or more.  And sometimes those sites are better, which will be discussed in a future post.  Prices vary, but it's hard to beat the Expedia last minute prices.  So if you are short on time, too busy, you may want to just save your time and use Expedia.

But to save another ~$50 or so dollars on the booking above, there is another extremely simple secret.  It takes 2 minutes.  I'll share that secret in the next few days. 


So do you want to save big?  Flexible?  Willing to live on the edge, just a little!  Then try booking last minute the next time you wander, and Travel Better..Travel for Less.

Do you have other tricks you've found to save money last-minute on hotels?  Please let me know!

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