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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

3 Ways That a Mystery Can Save You a Fortune - Part 1

In a recent post we discussed all the tricks to getting last minute hotels for bargain prices.  Hopefully you're using those tricks to find some bargains for wherever you're going this month or next!  For some people, booking last minute accommodation is daring, edgy, even scary; but after doing it once or twice you'll find it's not that big a deal. 
Our Hotel in Minneapolis - $756 Saved!
You can save 10%, 20%, 30%, even 50% or more by booking last minute.  Now, it does carry risk.  You might not get to stay where you wanted.  But you might get to stay somewhere even better

However, now we need to talk about an even bigger tip.  How can a mystery save you a fortune? 

Expedia, Travelocity, and a few other large travel sites, have partnered with hotels to offer even bigger savings.  They describe these hotels as mystery, opaque, unpublished, or secret saver hotels.   Why do hotels and travel sites partner up in order to offer deals this way? 

Unpublished Rates - 40% or More Savings

There is so much excess stock, or empty rooms, that hotels desperately want to fill them.  And travel sites want to sell them.  Everyone makes money.  But you and I can really profit, since these are where you find some great sales.  You're getting rooms near the absolute bottom prices that hotels would let them go for.

Bear in mind that as a rule these are usually are non-refundable, so that you know.

You'll see the Unpublished rates sandwiched in between normal rates as you search for hotels.


1. Brand Dilution, No Good Hotel Wants It - If you knew great hotels, were regularly giving away huge bargains, you would start to wait and offer less money to stay at the better places!  And overall, those great hotels could not charge as much.  Their premium customers would riot.  They DO NOT want that to start happening!  So they practically give away (I think!) these great rooms, without affecting their brand name.

2. Mysteries are Scary - People are just scared to book when they don't know what, or where, the hotel is.  And you CAN end up somewhere you don't like.  It is a mystery after all!  But that is where some incredible bargains can be had.  You can minimize the risk, as we'll discuss below.

3. They Sell Like Stocks - Expedia and other sites use algorithms determined by them and the hotels, to move prices up and down to sell these rooms for the best price they can get.  Last minute is generally better, because those rooms will go empty otherwise. But you can snag bargains 1 or 2 weeks in advance as well. 


We went on a business trip earlier this year to Minnesota and in an effort to stay in the best place, with our budget, we used Expedia's unpublished rates.  We used Unpublished rates at other stays in the past, but never for long stays.  This time, we got a Holiday Inn for 2 weeks for $54/night.  We were thrilled with the room, and the staff were great as well!  We booked about 1 week in advance.

When we later compared the regular published rates to stay at the same hotel, they were $107!  We saved 50%, though I should mention it was low season.  In high season the hotel sells rooms for $155! We were literally just down the street from the Mall of America.  Cool place, if you've never been.  They've got about 10 roller coasters inside, and 400 other stores.
Mall of America - Worth Seeing if You're in Minnesota
We also booked through the TopCashBack portal, and got another ~$4 back per night on the $54 we paid, so that our nightly rate came out to ~$50 overall. 

Usually, you won't get status credits or points for stays booked through 3rd party websites.  But sometimes, I'd rather have a better room if I have to pay and my cash is limited.  Of course, it depends on your budget, the city, and other factors.


If you're willing to try out a Mystery, or Unpublished hotel, you may get a quality bargain.  Expedia, Travelocity, and other major travel sites offer them.  If you have just a few more minutes to do some research, there are ways to try and discover the actual Mystery hotel, before you even pay for it!  

Stay tuned tomorrow for 3 Ways That a Mystery Can Save You a Fortune - Part 2.

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