This month we've devoted a few posts to blind booking sites like Hotwire and Priceline, as well as a few other newcomers like Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels and Last Minute Vacation's Undercover Hotels. Poor Hotwire was lacking some dedicated Trip Styler love, so here are a few of our hottest Hotwire tricks-of-the-trade, but first, a little background: Hotwire Hotwire is a leader in the 'Undercover' travel booking genre, in fact, according to Tnooz (via hitwise), each month it's always jockeying for the leading position in the web's top 10 travel agencies. The site provides two booking methods: traditional, and blind. Cars, flights, vacations and cruises fall into the traditional category, and hotels the blind category.
Hotels When 3- and 4-star hotels have unsold rooms, they use Hotwire to fill them. The result? Hotwire makes money and you spend less. Here's how their hotel bookings work: traveler searches a hotel for the star class and amenities they want, yet can't see its exact location or brand. See example below searching for a hotel in Wailea, Maui for a stay this week: Once you find the hotel selection you're happy with, you book it and find out the name and exact location after you've confirmed the purchase.
Not a Risk Using Hotwire is not a risk, it's an educated risk. Since Hotwire launched some 10 years ago, sites like BetterBidding.com and BiddingforTravel.com have minimized 'the blind' risk by providing Hotwire (and Priceline) enthusiasts the opportunity to enter their 'win' details so that others can figure out what hotel they are probably going to get in that city/area.
The Secret(s) Hotels with whom Hotwire maintains relationships are not random, but predictable. Whether it's a 3-star in Austin, Texas or a 4-star in Vancouver, BC, chances are, there will be precedent indicating the selection you're likely to get. Also, keep in mind that Hotwire tends to work with larger hotel groups, so if you're looking for a boutique hotel, you'll need to book elsewhere.
My Super Hotwire Wins One of my recent Hotwire 'super' wins was in Venice this past fall. I selected a 4-star hotel for around $100 and got the Hilton Molino Stucky, complete with a lovely room, roof-top pool and water shuttle to and from St. Mark's square. I know the hotel retailed for MUCH more than we paid. See the review I posted to Trip Advisor here.
People Who use Hotwire - Is it Right for You? People who like their ducks in a row, aren't always fans of this 'blind booking' travel site because they'd prefer to know their hotel and its exact location on-demand. Fair enough. On the other end of the spectrum, suspense-loving, risk-takers don't mind---even enjoy--- the hotel surprise at the end of the rainbow. I'm somewhere in the middle. Over the past 7 years there are times I've used Hotwire and times I haven't depending on the nature of the trip. Are you willing to take the educated risk?