[trip style = adventure]
Going once, going twice, SOLD to the lady in the red hat. Have you ever used a travel auction site? I used Sky Auction a few years ago to bid on and win a week's stay at the Villa Vera Hotel & Racket Club in Acapulco [pictured above]. I paid around $300 usd for the week, which worked out to a decent savings off the $115 usd nightly rate [see my review on Trip Advisor].
For the Risky at Heart Although travel auction sites have been around since the advent of internet-enabled travel booking, they've been making a comeback with the launch of the newest auction site Off & Away. I call this trip style adventurous because it's not for everyone; booking travel on auction sites involves time, research, strategy and a quick finger to win the deal you have your eye on. At its core, the concept isn't much different from any other type of travel booking, but hey, it's one way online travel companies differentiate themselves.
Travel Auction Sites Luxury Link The oldest, if not wisest site in the travel auction mix has been auctioning off travel since 1997. Focusing on elite getaways, they offer the largest selection of vetted luxury hotels, resorts, cruises and tours on the web. They're also enterprising; like we talked about last Thursday, they recently partnered with Travel + Leisure to create Vacationist.com, a members-only private travel sale site.
Sky Auction Almost as ancient as Luxury Link, Sky Auction has been around since 1999 and has over 966,550 auction winners. Offering the Ebay-like ability to bid or buy now, the site offers auctions for hotels, flights, packages, cruises and attractions.
Off & Away The newest online travel auction kid on the block is a little more niche, offering suites at 4- and 5-star hotels. But there's a catch, each bid costs $1 usd, and if you don't win your auction, you can apply your used bids towards another room.
My Take Like I mentioned above, I've used Sky Auction to book an auctioned-off vacation. Although it's not my preferred booking method, I would consider booking travel through an auction again. Similar to my advice for booking on sites like Hotwire or Priceline, if you like taking educated risks, do your research and go for it.
Tips Before you Bid
- like pizza or ice cream, travel auction sites can be addictive, so use restraint and the same common sense you would when bidding on eBay
- once you win a bid, you'll only be able to travel on the hotel's specified dates - which are clearly published during the bidding phase
- when you see a property you like, research the heck out of it, so you know what you're booking
- even if the price seems to good to be true, always check it against other sources
- read the fine print and make sure you aren't going to have attend a mandatory presentation or the like