Hotwire has become one of the more poplar travel booking websites often saving people hundreds of dollars on hotel rooms alone. For those not familiar, Hotwire’s hotel bookings work like this: You select the hotel rating (1 to 4 stars), the city, and the area that you want to stay in. The website gives you the nightly rate which is usually 50% off the rack rate. Hotwire , however, doesn’t tell you exactly which hotel you’ll be staying at. You don’t find this out until after you’ve picked your dates and paid for the stay online. Until recently, I thought this was brilliant. BUT on my last trip, I discovered some unexpected obstacles. By sharing them, I hope to save some people a few of their own headaches when using Hotwire.com.
The problem: Even though you’re booking for two people, you don’t have the option to choose two separate beds. So if you are traveling for business, beware! You just might be snuggling with your roommate all night. Why? The room assigned during your booking will be the most basic one available.
Some people may be surprised to find out that there are some rooms available with just “one” double bed and since technically it sleeps two, Hotwire will assign this room to you whether or not you want it. Here’s where the deal gets worse, if you call Hotwire to inquire about this, they tell you to go ahead, make the booking, and then they instruct you to call the hotel afterward to confirm the number of beds you need (note: your email confirmation which comes right away tells you which hotel you are staying in and provides a phone #).
What comes next is a bit scary…here’s what the hotel told me:
1. You are booked in a room with one double bed.
2. We do not have the authorization to change your booking. If we do, Hotwire’s system cancels the booking and you will be stuck paying without having a room.
3. If you book through 3rd party online websites, there is no guarantee for your room. In fact, we will bump you completely if we fill up with regular paying guests. While I’ve never had this happen, I couldn’t believe that they would be willing to do this!!
Here’s my translation of what the hotel booking rep told me: Don’t book online through 3rd party websites. We don’t like it. You’re a second class citizen if you do. (note: he didn’t say these exact words and he was pleasant the entire time; however I’m pretty sure this is what he was trying to tell me in the most politically correct way 😉
So where to go from here? I’ll probably continue to use Hotwire for family vacations, but will stay away from the website for business travel. Hope this helps save a few small businesses from the same headache.
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