Hotels - Travel Deals

Which are the best frequent flyer programs & hotel rewards programs?

baggageclaimWhen it comes to getting the best deal on things like airfare and hotels, sometimes it’s about more than scouring sites like this one to get the lowest price you can find. Sometimes it’s also about paying attention to what airline or hotel chain you’re using so that you can earn more points toward free stuff.

In days gone by, you really had to be a traveling salesman to even dream about racking up enough miles on flights to get a free airline ticket before your miles expired. But these days it’s much easier to earn free trips, since airlines and hotel chains have partnerships that let you earn miles and points for things besides flights and overnight stays.

Of course, not every airline is linked to every other airline, so it’s not a good idea to just sign up for every single frequent flyer program and hope that someday you’ll be able to link them all together for a free ticket to Tahiti. The same goes for hotel rewards programs, and if anything it’s even more true with hotels. While competing airlines are connected by “airline alliances,” hotel rewards programs typically only give points for stays within that hotel family.

In either case, whether you’re talking about air travel or hotel stays, if you’re looking into signing up to earn miles or points it’s best to do a little research ahead of time to make sure you’re signing up for the programs that will get you to free travel faster. To get you started, here are a couple of articles on the BootsnAll Business Travel Guide – one on the best frequent flyer programs, and another on the best hotel rewards programs. These provide an overview of the biggest rewards programs, plus links to more information about each one, so you can continue your research from there.

photo by Robert S. Donovan

Big savings for those who plan ahead AND book at the last minute

resortI have always been a bit of a procrastinator. Much to my mother’s dismay, I always wait until the last minute to do a lot of thingslike pack my bags (she’s always packed at least a week in advance), plan my next trip, write that term paper or do my taxes. While my strategy of waiting until the last minute to do things usually induces a little more stress than necessary, it has never actually bitten me in the ass too bad. Even when it comes to travel, I’m usually pretty good at scoring a great last-minute deal on everything from airfare to my hotel (especially in today’s buyer’s market travel world). Despite my procrastinating habits, I do realize that sometimes it pays to plan ahead. Especially when planning ahead can save you 40%. Travelocity Early Bird Sale! Plan Ahead and Save up to 40% on Hotels!

Bidding on hotels on Priceline can be a great way to save money right now

hotelsuiteIt is certainly no secret that with the economy down, airlines and hotels have been hurting. Special promotions, great travel deals and coupon codes have made travel deals a plenty lately. This tough economic climate has also made Priceline THE place to score some really amazing deals on hotels. Since hotels are often left with a ton of empty rooms right now (which are then auctioned off at low prices on Priceline), you can score some really amazing deals on nice hotels by biding on them on Priceline right now. Since booking a room for a way discounted price is better than leaving it empty, even 4 and 5 star hotels have been auctioning off rooms at stunningly low prices. See Winning Hotel bids in Top Cities from $28 per night!

Great summer deals to Hawaii

hawaiibeach1Hawaii used to be a luxury destinationnot only was it expensive to get to, but the islands were mostly full of spendy resorts that could cost you an arm and a leg once you get there. Enter the recession. With far fewer people traveling at all this summer, nonetheless to destinations like Hawaii, planes and hotel rooms have been left partly empty, which has in turn driven prices way down. As a result of the suffering economy, airlines, hotels, travel agents, just about everyone is offering up some pretty fantastic Hawaii deals. I’ve even seen some prices so low I’ve taken a double take at the computer screen, unable to believe how cheap it is to go to paradise right now.

Once considered the more expensive, high-season time to travel, low season prices to Hawaii are hanging around well into the summer. United is offering a great sale on vacation packages to the islands right nowan unusual occurrence during the usually busy summer travel season. Hawaii is on Sale!
Exclusive rates at some of our favorite hotels. Hurry, book by 5/31.

United Vacations has plenty of things on sale

Vegas baby vegasOne of the things I like about United Vacations is that they always have competitive prices, but they also put a list of their most special deals right on the front page of their site: United Vacations
We provide complete travel packages including air, hotel, rental car and attraction tickets.

For example, right now they are offering 20% off on all Las Vegas hotels, and I have a feeling some of them might be even cheaper than that. This situation isn’t widely talked about, but being in the travel industry I can reveal that Las Vegas is really taking it on the chin this summer, and they are wheeling and dealing on their rooms like they haven’t done in a decade or more. They’ve built over 100,000 hotel rooms, and with gas prices and airfares being high lately, more people have found it easier to skip the Vegas trip. These deals won’t go on forever though.

All-inclusive vacations are crazy cheap this time of year

rezortI can’t really point this phenomenon out during the rest of the year, but the truth is that during the next couple months you can probably fly to one of these posh all-inclusive resorts and stay there cheaper than staying home: All Inclusive Vacation Deals
Enjoy 25% – 50% off or more on All Inclusive Vacation Packages. Book today!

This is really a fun time of year to be writing about these things, just as it’s a bit tough to be writing about them during the peak season, because even the sale prices then seem outrageous. Anyway, you can now book a flight to Mexico and 3 nights at one of these places starting at $387 per person. The demand to go to these wonderful resorts is low this time of year, and they have the same number of rooms, so they practically give them away. I think next year I’m going to see if my boss will let me find these deals from there instead of my normal office.

Expedia has some really cheap packages at the moment

fireworks miamiIt could be that this is because we are entering that fringe travel season where everyone has booked their summer trip, and no one is thinking about a fall or winter trip yet, but prices are quite good on these packages right now: Top Vacation Package Deals at Expedia.com

They are currently advertising Florida hotels starting at $45 per night, and packages including a flight and 3 hotel nights starting at $307. That’s pretty amazing compared to anything we’ve seen in the last couple months. I know there are always cheaper hotels in Florida that are pretty nice, but the airfare part has been even more than that alone from just about anywhere past Atlanta.

United Vacations has good prices and some tempting extras too

Dizney WorldSince travel this year is down a bit, these travel companies are having to offer extra promotions in order to keep their businesses rolling, and United Vacations is no exception: United Vacation Packages
We provide vacation destinations including the Caribbean, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico and more.

This is a great time of year to book a Disney vacation, and they have a special deal where you get a $100 gift card and up to 40% off the Disney hotels. Hmmm do you think perhaps they aren’t as full now as they usually are this time of year? I love it when these big travel companies get desperate because they have to offer these really good deals just to stay afloat, and we are the winners!

All-inclusive resorts are on sale in a big way

Hedo JamaicaHere’s the thing. These really nice all-inclusive resorts in tropical areas tend to be packed and really expensive from December through April, but this time of year they are cheap, especially if you book at the last minute: All Inclusive Vacation Deals
Enjoy 25% – 50% off or more on All Inclusive Vacation Packages. Book today!

Once you click on that link you’ll see that you can get deals to the Caribbean and Mexico for up to 45% off, which isn’t too shabby. Some of us can’t afford these luxurious places during their peak season, so by going at a different time of year we can feel like royalty at a price we can afford. Another deal here gives you up to 35% off, plus it gives you free upgrades and resort credits. Add that all up and you are paying about half what someone does in February.

Here’s a deal from Priceline I didn’t expect

Shatner pointingDo you remember that whole Name Your Own Price  thing that Priceline started out with? Yeah, they have kind of deemphasized that in the last few years, but it’s still around and here’s an incredible offer: Name Your Own Price Hotel – See Winning Bids in Top Cities!

I think the reason Priceline has mostly moved away from that thing is that for most people you always felt like you might be getting ripped off. You’d enter a low bid and it would be rejected and they’d suggest a much higher bid, but you still didn’t know if that was at the worst hotel in that area or what.