Prior to the pandemic, travel bookings were abundant which led to many hoteliers becoming complacent in their distribution strategies. As bookings dried up, hotels needed to get more creative about how and where they generated demand from. Many of the savviest hoteliers began optimizing their content across 3rd party distribution channels to drive more visibility and increase conversion by standing out from the compset - but with so many channels out there the task has become unmanageable (especially with labor shortages). Managing digital content, like amenity information, descriptions, and photos, is an important component of any online hotel content distribution strategy. And far too often, it gets deprioritized in favor of what seem like more urgent tasks. Great content is the key to travel and accommodations bookings. All else equal, hotels who display the best and most accurate content to 3rd party channels will receive the most bookings. Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia credits the firm’s early success to a strategic shift in content distribution. After the startup implemented a strategy to display better content, Airbnb doubled it’s revenue within a week. While your hotel may not double revenue in a week like Airbnb, there are massive gains to be had by optimizing your content distribution tools and strategy. What if we told you that there’s a way to optimize your content using automated tools without needing to hire a team or take hours out of your already slammed schedule? In this article, we’ll explain why it’s so important to maintain correct, complete, and consistent content, and explore how Content.AI by RateGain addresses the common pain points of content distribution.
Hotel Marketing & Distribution Software Articles
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Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in! 9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems. 8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers. 7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property. 9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations. 4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support. 9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines. 2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion. F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas. Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.
The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function. This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv. Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels. Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience. Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed! YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience. The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces. Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby. The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue. Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms. Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials. Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out! Virgin Hotels The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless. Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms: Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control. 25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology. Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience. Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures. The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas. This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming. The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!
Hot on the heels of an IPO that saw Airbnb’s stock pop over 100% over its initial asking price, the hype around the home-sharing platform has reached a fever pitch. Airbnb’s splashy debut in the public market has brought renewed attention to the classic “Airbnb vs Hotels'' debate. Surveys suggest that Airbnb hosts do indeed pull guests away from hotel rooms. Goldman Sachs found that those who use home-sharing end up preferring it over hotels: 79% prefer traditional hotels but, once they experience a vacation rental, that number dropped to 40%. In other words, home-sharing siphons off 39% of hotels’ target market. Another survey found that 60% who use both hotels and Airbnb prefer Airbnb versus hotels Of course, these surveys are only snapshots that don’t necessarily reflect how people choose where to stay. If the price was identical between an Airbnb and a St. Regis, Viceroy, or Montage-type property hotel rates, where would you stay for your next trip? Likely the luxury property, right? But what if it was for a family reunion or bachelor party? The trip type certainly would influence your decision on where to stay. So is Airbnb vs Hotels even the right question in a world where hotel chains like Marriott are launching their own vacation rental services and Airbnb now owns HotelTonight? The Answer: It Depends The reality is that no one is exclusively a single category traveler. The same person might prefer an Airbnb on one trip and a hotel on the next one. To choose which one is right for a certain trip, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions: What do I care about? What combination of space, amenities, cost, service, and location are most important? What kind of experience do I want? Am I looking to be pampered or self-catered? Are you looking for a private room or multiple occupancy shared space with other renters and guests? Is this a business or vacation? Who else is joining me? What kind of experience do they want? Are there kids? What’s my budget? Is flexibility important to me or am I certain I won’t need to cancel or adjust my reservation? Do you care about hotel amenities like concierge or room service? How important is safety? Do I want 24/7 staffing to feel more secure? How do I feel about my contribution to any issues around housing being taken from locals by short-term rentals? What are the short-term rental laws? Where are you going? Airbnbs are limited in certain markets like New York City, so that makes it a no-brainer. Of course, the pandemic has added new dimensions to this discussion, as the NY Times rightly points out: “Social distancing, hygiene and refund policies may be the new game-changers.” What are the cleanliness procedures? Is there an additional cleaning fee? Is there flexible cancellation in the event of a surge in cases or a sickness? What are the capacity restrictions? Can I maintain an adequate distance from other guests? There's a lot that goes into choosing an Airbnb over a hotel. It’s not so straightforward! Let’s compare side by side. Comparing Airbnb vs. Hotels Side-by-Side Airbnb Hotel Security Each property is different Most often staffed 24/7, with locks and deadbolts on each door Consistency Varies. While Airbnb provides training to hosts, there are no guarantees of what you’ll get. And each property has its own House Rules. Brand standards provide confidence in the consistency of experience Business-friendly Airbnb for Work provides some basic guarantees for items like workspaces; check-in may be difficult overnight Brand standards provide the consistency ideal for business travelers; 24/7 staffing makes last-minute stays and overnight check-ins easier Quality Varies; user reviews offer insights into the quality of specific property Varies; brand name and hotel category offer certain quality guarantee Service Self-catered Depends on category; nearly always some sort of service on-site Value for Money Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; lower cost of things like WiFi and meals Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; often pay extra for add-ons and meals. Convenience self-service check-in at many properties has made it much more convenient, although there is rarely someone on-site to help With 24/7 staffing, its often easier to check-in and there can't be helped for any issues experienced during stay Cleanliness Hosts do all the cleaning with no guarantees by Airbnb Brand standards ensure a similar level of cleanliness Cancellation Policies Varies by host but rarely flexible or fully refundable Flexible, often with full refunds prior to 48 hours before arrival Variety All types of accommodations, including quirky options like teepees and Airstreams Fairly standard spectrum of options, as defined by the hotel category Trust Airbnb does not verify individual hosts, but user reviews provide a level of trust in the community Hotel brand is the placeholder for trust; you have an idea of what to expect based on the brand Safety, Privacy and Legality In a Morgan Stanley survey, more than 50% of people do not use Airbnb due to safety, privacy, or legality. From shifting local laws to hidden cameras and uneven safety features, Airbnbs are not all created equally. Hotels have operated under long-standing rules and regulations around safety, privacy and legal operations. Technology Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels In the early days of Airbnb rentals, it cemented its competitive advantage by a focus on the user experience that set it apart from historically clunky hotel booking experiences. There was an easy-to-use interface for searching and booking that made excellent use of visuals and maps. Reservations were managed digitally with few phone calls and user reviews were the currency of trust. A mobile app became the centerpiece of interactions between guests and hosts, while also making it easy to manage upcoming reservations, get directions and find house rules. Now, hotels have become much savvier with guest messaging, mobile apps, in-room tablets and keyless entry to provide an enhanced experience that differentiates it from Airbnb. No more horrible entertainment options thanks to Apple TV for Hospitality, no more front desk with keyless entry and contactless check-in, no more waiting on hold thanks to guest messaging software, no more antiquated booking systems with better booking engines. In many respects, hotel tech has advanced to push it past Airbnb, allowing hotels to offer a better experience than ever before. In general, Airbnb stays and hotel stays are on a convergence path solidified by Airbnb's acquisition of HotelTonight. When is Airbnb Better? Airbnb is ideally suited under certain circumstances: Trip types: group trips (friends, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette trips) are perfect for Airbnb’s because they have more space and the cost can be spread among many people; trips to vacation destinations where there may be fewer hotels; extended stays, when feeling at home matters greatly. Traveler types: Independent travelers looking to save money on accommodations and self-cater meals; “live like a local” travelers that want to experience what it’s like to live in the destination; those who want more space and to avoid the crowds, such as pet owners and families with kids. When are Hotels Better? Other trips are better suited for hotels. The most obvious use case a business trips, as 68% of business travelers have had a negative experience using Airbnb for work and thus prefer hotels. Airbnb has made strides in this department come out there's still a level of inconsistency that turns off business travelers. Hotels are also often better for: Trip types: Urban getaways focused less on spending time at the property; family trips where the kids want access to amenities; wellness retreats that prioritize on-site spa treatments; pampered getaways where no one wants to lift a finger. Traveler types: Loyalty members that want to earn points; those who value consistency of experience; design-minded travelers that enjoy experiencing hotel properties Business Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels On the business side of things, there are some obvious differences between Airbnb and hotels. First and foremost, is the regulatory environment. Short-term rentals have a constantly shifting legal landscape, with many cities cracking down on rampant rentals. Airbnb’s long-standing practice of ruthlessly fighting regulations may be backfiring, as coalitions of residents and hotels have rigorously pushed back. A big portion of this fight was related to short term rental taxes and paying their fair share. Airbnbs in many locations now pay a similar accommodation tax to hotels. Similar to hotels paying taxes on income, hosts are also on the hook for all necessary taxes related to their operations. The operating models also differ greatly. Compared with hotels, which operate with continuous staffing, Airbnb has remote customer service that isn't exactly known as world-class. This keeps overhead lower and gives Airbnb an advantage on operating margin, as they can invest further in the technology-driven user experience. Airbnb also operates under an “asset-light” model, Which means that it doesn't own any of the properties listed on its website. It's a Marketplace the connects hosts with gas. On the other hand, hotel operators generally have a direct relationship with the property owner. In most cases, a property owner hires a management company to run the hotel. the management company then either pays a franchise fee to a hotel brand (based on the target demographic) or runs the hotel independently under its own flag. Airbnb's decentralized model, in which hosts list their own properties on the platform, disperse its listings across geographies. However, similar to hotels, there’s a concentration of urban listings, where density delivers more options. Airbnb is also quite strong in vacation destinations, which have a long-standing familiarity with vacation rentals. While there may be fewer hotels in these areas, there’s no shortage of Airbnbs. However, local pushback may threaten this strength, as many areas crack down on both legal and illegal rentals. When it comes to market share, Airbnb definitely dominates. It’s not only become more valuable than the top 3 hotel companies combined, but it’s also bigger by sheer listing count. As you can see in the graphic below from Scott Galloway, Airbnb eclipses all major hotel brands in total room count. It’s just no comparison -- and it’s that strength that propels Airbnb ahead of hotels on market share. (For comparison, Booking.com has 6.2 million listings). On the revenue side of the equation, the global hotel industry hovers around a $600 billion market size. That’s massive compared to Airbnb’s reported $4.81 billion in revenue. The disparity underlines one fact about Airbnb's market share: all listings are not created equal. Some are for entire homes available year-round, while others are shared rooms only periodically available. Therefore listing count does not necessarily equate to market dominance! Wrapping it Up There is no clear winner and unlike what most media likes to spew - the future holds opportunity for both Airbnb and hotels. In fact, some hotels may benefit from listing on Airbnb to gain visibility with a new guest segment. Hotels should also look carefully at nearby Airbnbs and iterate (or emphasize) product features that resonate more with why guests stay at Airbnbs (see chart above). For example, if a limited-service hotel doesn’t win on service they may need to need to win on consistency, security, self-catering options, and convenience to lure more guests. When it comes to Airbnb versus hotels, it's not an either-or decision; there are few “Airbnb only” travelers. Hotels can compete head-to-head with Airbnbs by finding property attributes that appeal to specific segments and trip types -- and then marketing that message directly to those travelers!
Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020. Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis. The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts. Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience. But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables: Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees. In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech… 10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status. Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it. Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work. This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths. The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.” If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder. The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home. 10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last. In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team. Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%. Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis. “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report. Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members. During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates. 9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture. Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees. Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women. PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation. Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed. One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.” 8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list! If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own. EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible. An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy. We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities. If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions. 7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup. Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination. During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm. Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order. 6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients. Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program. One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!” If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon. 5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story. Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world. That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up. Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow. How would this impact you when you apply for a role there? Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training. Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny. Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have. During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays. If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will. 4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it. ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties. During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal. “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role. Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues. ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress. 3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place. Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe. hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker. Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector. 2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins. Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round. Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.” Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market. 1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm. Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made. Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before. Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition. Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal. Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID). It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume. Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in. Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.
Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards. Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic. To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers. The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before. Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies. This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander. About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging. Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>
Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition. Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more. Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses. It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history. Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever. Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade. The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries. Best Hotel Software Companies List >>
Online travel agents have become an integral part of many travelers’ “search and book” routine. It used to be so much more tedious to book travel, requiring a phone call or an in-person visit to a physical travel agent. Now, travelers can self serve all the way from research to booking. If you're like most travelers, you've used an OTA without really thinking much about it. The website works well, with lots of choices and a relatively smooth booking experience. But if you’ve ever wondered what an OTA actually is, how OTAs make money, why travelers like you use OTAs and what the biggest OTAs are, then this is your place. We've compiled some of travelers’ most frequently asked questions around OTAs and answered them all in one place. Let’s get curious! What's an OTA? “OTA” stands for Online Travel Agency, which is a travel agency whose primary presence is on digital channels. Consumers can use a website and/or mobile device to search and book travel -- all without the traditional “gatekeeper” travel agent. OTAs connect to the full breadth of travel providers, giving travelers access to all of the inventory that they may want for their next trip. Online travel agents are the travel industry's largest source of bookings and often use package deals including airfare and hotels or special offers like flash sales to drive more bookings to airline and hotel partners. These massive travel websites like Booking and Expedia have millions of monthly visitors. Large hotel groups (like Hilton and the like) have been consolidating and building new subbrands, which means that they have a lower reliance on OTAs; travelers can find many types of accommodations on the global brands’ own websites. Yet, many independent hotels rely entirely on OTAs to drive their bookings as they don’t have a booking engine of their own. Either way, OTAs have a breadth and depth of travel inventory that covers all segments, geographies and groups of travelers. It's also important to understand what ARE NOT online travel agencies. Metasearch engines like TripAdvisor and Google Flights, for example, are not OTAs. Having said that, Booking.com (formerly Priceline.com) does own metasearch player Kayak so there are some overlaps (although with different brands). In the United States Expedia is the dominant player while in Europe it is Booking.com. How do OTAs make money? Most OTAs make money by taking a commission per booking, which is anywhere from 5% to upwards of 25%. The actual commission rate is negotiated on a brand by brand, property by property basis. In general, larger hotels and bigger brands with many properties use their leverage to negotiate lower rates. So when you book that boutique hotel on an OTA, it's likely that they are paying more on commission than the name brand Hotel down the street. Most OTAs also make money through advertising, in which hotels pay to be prominently placed above organic results in relevant traveler searches. This model, which is also used by metasearch sites (see What is metasearch? for more), is generally on a pay-per-click basis. Why do travelers use OTAs? Over a fifth of travelers say they use OTAs to book all or part of their travel. And OTAs (and their metasearch cousins, often owned by major OTA groups) remain popular among all age groups. OTAs are positioned across many touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Why is that? At the highest level, there are three main reasons why many travelers book their trips on an OTA: Choice. Online travel agencies are a “one stop shop” for all things travel. From flights and hotels to short-term rentals, cars and vacation packages, you can pretty much find any type of product that you want on an OTA. Price. OTAs have done an excellent job of developing a perception of value -- even though they aren't always the lowest price or the best value. The real value here lies in comparison shopping. It’s easy to compare options on an OTA and that type of information is very valuable to consumers. Convenience. OTAs are the Everything Store for Travel, available on any device. It’s a convenient place to book your car rental, hotel and flights in a single reservation. It's so much easier to deal with that single point of contact -- especially when things go wrong and you need help. Rather than calling multiple numbers to puzzle together a new itinerary, you only have to call one number to get it done. Now let's assume and to get a bit more of a granular and geeky view into what consumers want from OTAs. A recent research report from Jul 2020 asked this very question in its title, Why do people purchase from online travel agencies (see geeky graph below). While it was based on a limited sample size of users from a budget hotel brand, the results suggest that travelers use OTAs due to a perception of greater trust, safety and quality: Hygiene. Travelers want to be assured of the relative cleanliness of the service or product. By using a reputable online travel agency, travelers have an expectation of a certain level of quality. The attributes of the brand make a big difference in the perception of quality. Privacy and security. Privacy and security are also important. And, just like hygiene, Travelers have a certain level of trust in the OTA brand to deliver a quality experience that won’t expose them to privacy breaches or physical harm. Reviews. Social proof has a major impact on why travelers use OTAs. A feeling that others had a good experience goes a long way in pulling more consumers into the OTA ecosystem. What are the drawbacks of OTAs? There are also some disadvantages of using OTAs, which travelers must be aware of. For one, travelers often are lured by low prices on many online travel agencies. Yet, once they try to book, they find out that the price includes hidden fees or added restrictions that wouldn’t be found by booking directly with an airline or hotel. Niche OTAs, which can pop up seemingly overnight, often hide the true cost of a trip during a given search to entice consumers to click through. The worst actors will actually appear to offer the lowest price all the way through to booking. However, once you check-in to their flight or hotel, you may discover unexpected fees. All of a sudden, that “steal” of a price actually becomes more expensive than it would have been book direct. Examples of these tactics periodically pop up, such as when one online travel agency was accused of using improper charges and bait-and-switch fares. The tactic can mislead consumers, who see an OTA as the cheapest option in search results and thus click through to book. Another major drawback is customer support. Not all OTAs are created equal on this front. Especially when it comes to regional ones, travelers often face less-than-ideal support. For the average trip, when everything goes well, this is far less of an issue. It's when things go wrong that support matters greatly. No one wants to be stranded without anyone to help! This can be exacerbated during disruptions come out when travel suppliers prioritize direct workers over others. When booking directly with a hotel or airline, travelers will deal directly with the company for any issues that arise. So it’s not always cut-and-dry that an OTA will be able to provide you better or more effective support than a travel company -- and in some cases (especially with more niche/regional OTAs) there’s spotty support that can cause more frustration than the price savings. What are the top online travel agencies? When choosing where to book, most consumers opt for one of the top OTAs: Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. That’s not really difficult to do, as these two companies own the bulk of online bookings. With many brands that span categories and regions, Expedia and Booking have all corners of the globe and all travel niches covered: Expedia Group In addition to its namesake OTA Expedia.com, which sells all categories of travel to a global audience, the company operates sites that span hotels, ground transportation, cruises, vacation rentals, metasearch and business travel. Hotels.com. Expedia’s hotel-focused OTA is most well-known for its generous and straightforward loyalty program, which rewards a free night for every 10 nights booked on the platform. Vrbo. Short-term rentals are the core of the Vrbo offering, which recently merged with HomeAway to become Expedia's main destination for vacation rentals. Egencia. Corporate travel managers use Egencia to support their business travel needs. With self-service options for travelers and compliance tools for managers, the focus is on savings and ease-of-use. trivago. The “trivago guy” became a worldwide sensation after appearing in commercials without a belt. The hotel metasearch platform provides hotel price comparisons across its 55 localized sites. Orbitz. This OTA has a strong focus on North America, where travelers can search flights, hotels & travel bundles. Orbitz for Business is the OTA’s corporate travel arm. CheapTickets. As a subsidiary of Orbitz, Cheaptickets is for discounted hotels, flights, local events, travel bundles and cruises. The site’s Vacation Value Finder assists travelers in finding the best deals. Travelocity. The Roaming Gnome has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in travel. The OTA is also known for its Price Match Guarantee, where it will match any price from a competitor. Hotwire. This is an opaque deal site specifically for hotels. Travelers can see star rating and cost for their search dates, and then make non-refundable reservations based on an overview of the hotel’s category. Wotif. The Wotif portfolio includes Wotif and LastMinute, which offers flights, hotels, packages and last-minute deals to travelers based mostly in Australia and New Zealand. ebookers. This regional OTA serves travelers primarily from the UK, as well as around Europe. Travelers can search and book flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and packages. CarRentals.com. Travelers can book rental cars from the major brand names, as well as smaller regional outfits. The niche OTA covers 29,000 locations in 197 countries. Expedia Cruises. The cruise arm of Expedia Group gives consumers the control and flexibility to book cruises, which can be more complex than typical travel. There are also a chain of retail outlets, so cruises can get expert assistance face-to-face. Booking Holdings Headquartered in Amsterdam, Booking Holdings is best known for its flagship brand Booking.com, which sells all types of travel to a global audience in 43 languages. The global conglomerate also operates niche websites serving specific segments in travel and hospitality. Priceline. This OTA is focused primarily on North America and is known for its discounts and deals. The latest is Pricebreakers, a semi-opaque shopping option that shows travelers three hotels, one of which will be assigned after booking. Agoda. This OTA is strong in Asia, offering over 2 million hotels, homes, resorts and hostels across the continent. It also sells flights. Kayak. Kayak is a metasearch price comparison tool for flights, accmmodations, packages, and rental cars. Kayak has 60 localized sites in over 24 languages. Cheapflights. The brand promise is right there in the name: this is the place to find cheap flights. The site is actually a subsidiary of Kayak and applies its parent company’s metasearch model to flights. Momondo. Another subsidiary of kayak, this site is a flight fare and travel search aggregator. Travelers can find and compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars and package deals. RentalCars.com. This Booking platform for rental cars has options in 160 countries, as well as nillions of verified reviews to inform travelers. OpenTable. Booking’s push into the full traveler journey led it to acquire OpenTable, the world's largest restaurant reservation platform. It exists as a standalone brand, where diners can make reservations online at restaurants worldwide. Airbnb The dominant short-term rental player now also offers boutique hotels on its platform. And while the pandemic has shifted its vision somewhat, the platform is now an OTA that competes directly. Ctrip Until recently, Ctrip was focused primarily on Asia. This changed with the purchase of Trip.com, which gave it a global footprint on major North American and European markets. Google Hotels Okay, so technically this is not an OTA as the business model is strictly “pay for performance.” But Google Hotels is the elephant in the room: a major competitor from the dominant search engine where the vast majority begin their travel searches. It's mere presence changes the calculus for OTAs worldwide. That's not to say that these sites are perfect, or that there aren't local alternatives. Verified reviews aren't always the most positive (see some here) -- but at least with the major companies, travelers are more likely to get responsive support and accurate pricing, with less likelihood of being scammed or otherwise misled. For a full list, check out our list of the top hotel booking sites for 2020.
Are you feeling as couped up as we are with this Coronavirus quarantine? Looking for inspiration and deals to plan your revenge trip when the world opens back up again? Nothing beats that rush when you book a killer hotel deal! With the number of hotel booking sites multiplying at a rapid pace, it can be difficult to know where to find the best deals - and without getting scammed. In this article, we’ll introduce you to several types of hotel booking sites, including online travel agencies, comparison or “meta-search” sites, branded hotel sites, innovative booking sites, flash sales and “mystery hotel” deals, and some sites offering unique accommodations. By the end of this page, you’ll know several sites where you can find the best deals for the kind of travel that’s in your future. Ultimately finding the best hotel booking website will mean different things to different people. Even a single person may define "best" differently for different types of trips. Are you looking for the most sophisticated search engine that makes your hotel search fast and painless? Google would likely be considered a top contender. Maybe you're looking for cheap hotels to stay at on your next business trip to San Francisco where you'd prefer Kayak. Maybe you need an all suites hotel in Las Vegas for a bachelor party or an all-in package for your family to Disneyland Orlando with car rental, activities and more. In this article we'll break down 'best' into 5 categories to make it easy for you to find what you're looking for on different types of trips: Top Hotel Deal Sites Online travel agencies Price comparison websites Branded hotel booking Unique accomodations Let’s dive in! Online Travel Agencies If making hotel reservations were like online shopping, then the online travel agencies are the Amazon of the hotel industry. These mega-sites contain millions of listings for hotels, vacation rentals, and everything in between. If you travel frequently, some OTAs even offer loyalty programs which can bring you even more perks and discounts. Booking.com If you’ve ever searched for hotels online, chances are you’ve come across Booking.com. This massive hotel booking site is the largest in the world, with over 28 million properties listed. You can find everything from luxury hotels to hostels to apartment rentals on Booking.com. In the search results, you can quickly see the property’s guest review score, the cheapest room type, and the total reservation price - unlike some other sites which only show the nightly rate. At most Booking.com properties, you pay directly at the hotel when you arrive. Unique feature: Sheer volume of properties Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Through Booking’s Genius program, you get extra discounts after staying at two properties within two years, and after five stays, you get perks like room upgrades and free breakfast. Did you know? Booking.com is the most popular travel website in the world, with hundreds of millions of visitors per month! Expedia Expedia can be considered your one-stop-shop for travel. You can book not only hotels on the site, but also flights, rental cars, cruises, and activities. Hotels can join Expedia’s frequent flash sales, and travelers can often get extra discounts with promo codes around major holidays, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Expedia is one of the few sites that offers package deals (a bundle of flight, hotel, and/or rental car reservations), which often include significant discounts. Unique feature: Package deals Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Expedia Rewards members get access to members-only discounts and collect points on every booking. Members can redeem points for free stays, and higher-tier members enjoy perks like room upgrades and free amenities. Did you know? Expedia owns Orbitz and Travelocity, so you’ll see exactly the same properties and rates on those sites. Hotels.com Hotels.com is part of the Expedia Group, so you’ll find the same hotels (and hostels, vacation rentals, etc.) on this site, but the real difference lies in the loyalty program. Sign up for a free Hotels.com Rewards account to get one free night for every 10 nights you stay. The value of your free night is an average of the 10 paid nights, and the location, brand, or star rating doesn’t matter. It’s a great way to get free nights at independent hotels, especially if you travel a lot! Unique feature: Loyalty program Region: Worldwide, but most popular in the US and Canada Loyalty program: Stay 10 nights, get one free. Membership is free. Did you know? The Hotels.com spokesperson is Captain Obvious. Agoda If you’re traveling in the US or Europe, you have a plethora of booking sites at your fingertips. In Asia, however, especially in less popular and rural areas, Agoda is often your only option. Agoda has over 2 million listings, which can be hotels, resorts, hostels, homestays, and vacation rentals. Check the “Today’s Deals” page for promo codes valid for extra discounts. Unique feature: Volume of properties in Asian markets Region: Most popular in Asia Loyalty program: The PointsMAX program lets you pair your airline loyalty program (like AAdvantage) and earn miles after each Agoda stay. Did you know? Agoda’s website and mobile app are translated into 38 languages. Hotel Booking Comparison Sites With so many booking sites, it could take hours for you to compare the prices for one hotel on all of them. Comparison sites, also known as meta-search sites, do the heavy lifting for you and pull the rates from various OTAs into one place. You can then click the link for the website with the cheapest rate and book directly through that site. Kayak Even though Booking.com owns Kayak, you can use Kayak to compare prices for hotels, rental cars, and flights on dozens, if not hundreds, of different websites. If you’re watching a specific flight or hotels over specific dates, you can sign up for a price alert and receive an email when rates increase or decrease. Unique feature: Price comparisons for hotels and flights Region: Worldwide, but most popular in the US Loyalty program: None Did you know? Kayak’s “Deals” page sells discounted tours and concert tickets. HotelsCombined Another popular meta-search site is HotelsCombined, which - you guessed it - combines the search results from all the big booking sites into one consolidated hotel list. After plugging in dates and a destination, you can filter the results by star rating, guest review score, neighborhood, brand, amenities, and more. Unique feature: Price comparisons for hotels, flights Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Over 400 million travelers used HotelsCombined last year. Trivago If you’re searching for the best deals on hotels, Trivago is a good place to look. The site compares over 1.8 million hotels and pulls in prices from over 400 different websites. You can filter your search results by star rating, review score, and amenities, and you can see average hotel prices per day to find cheaper days of the week or month. Unique feature: The calendar highlights cheaper and more expensive dates. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Trivago doesn’t just shop hotels, but also hostels and vacation rentals. Tripadvisor Though you may know Tripadvisor best as a review site, it’s also a travel booking and comparison site. On each hotel listing, above the reviews section, you’ll see rates for that hotel on all of the big OTAs and, usually, the hotel’s own website. Tripadvisor lists not only hotels, but you can also book vacation rentals, tours, activities, and restaurant reservations. Unique feature: Easy to find added-value offers, like free breakfast Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Tripadvisor highlights the cheapest dates for a given hotel so you can find the best deals. Google Is there anything you can’t find on Google? As a newer player in the travel game, many people don’t know that Google can reveal some good hotel deals. You can find hotels on Google in two ways: a simple Google search for “hotels in ___” and through Google Maps. Google’s hotel listings contain all of the hotel’s Google Maps info, like contact information, photos, and guest reviews, and the listings also show prices and links to book at various sites, often including the hotel’s own website. Unique feature: Google Maps data, including reviews and photos. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Some hotels have Google Street View 3D tours. Hotel Brand Booking Websites Do you crave quality, consistency, and lots of loyalty perks? The world’s global hotel chains offer a lot of value to frequent travelers through their loyalty programs, which are free to join and often offer members-only rates and benefits. The three chains below offer a myriad of different brands ranging from budget to ultra-luxury with properties around the world. These are just a few brands of the many across the globe, but they offer some of the best loyalty programs and property portfolios. Hilton HHonors As one of the world’s most well known chains, Hilton Worldwide has a portfolio of over 6000 hotels in 120 countries. The Hilton umbrella includes brands like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, and Waldorf Astoria, and you can book all Hilton hotels on the brand’s main website or app. When you create a free Hilton HHonors account, you’ll receive access to special member discounts and get free WiFi at all Hilton properties. Unique feature: All HHonors members can use digital check-in to choose their own room. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: HHonors tiers include Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond, and all members accumulate points which can be redeemed for free nights. Did you know? Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast at all Hilton properties. Marriott Bonvoy Marriott International comes in at #3 in the list of largest hotel chains in the world, and the company has over 7000 properties in its portfolio. After Marriott’s merger with Starwood in 2015, the company’s portfolio grew to include a whopping 30 brands, including Courtyard, Four Points, Moxy, Sheraton, Westin, and Ritz-Carlton. Marriott’s website and mobile apps allow you to book all 30 brands in the same place. Unique feature: Elite members staying at least 10 nights per year receive late checkout at all Marriott properties. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Marriott’s Bonvoy program has six tiers from standard Member to Ambassador Elite. Did you know? If you stay 250 nights at Marriott properties and earn Elite status for 5 years, you get Elite status for life. World of Hyatt Though Hyatt’s portfolio size pales in comparison to Marriott and Hilton, World of Hyatt members enjoy some pretty incredible perks at the company’s roughly 900 hotels around the world. Hyatt’s brands include Hyatt Place, Hyatt Centric, Andaz, Hyatt Regency, and Park Hyatt, and you can book them all on Hyatt’s website and apps. Hyatt also has several “independent collections,” such as Joie de Vivre, which include boutique hotels with no Hyatt branding. Unique feature: World of Hyatt members enjoy perks at Exhale Spas, American Airlines, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: World of Hyatt’s membership tiers include Member, Discoverist (10 nights/year), Explorist (30 nights/year), and Globalist (60 nights/year). Did you know? Globalist members get free breakfast or executive lounge access at every Hyatt property. Innovative Hotel Booking Site Concepts Looking for something a little different? These specialized sites go beyond what the traditional OTAs offer. You’ll find sites that focus on specific types of hotels - or even specific hotel amenities - as well as platforms that utilize technology to deliver better prices than you can find elsewhere. Some even offer hidden, members-only deals that you must sign in to view. Take your deal-hacking to the next level with these disrupters. Roomer Travel Have you ever needed to cancel a non-refundable hotel reservation? In most cases, you can’t get your money back, but you can post your reservation on Roomer. This site offers discounted stays at hotels around the world - but be warned, the dates are very specific and you can usually only choose from one room type. If you get lucky and the dates align with your travel dates, then you’re in luck! Unique feature: Reselling hotel reservations that other people can’t use. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Though the original booker couldn’t get a refund from the hotel, some of Roomer’s offers are refundable when you book through the Roomer site. Splitty Travel This money-saving site uses technology to hack other travel sites and find the best deals. Splitty’s technology combines multiple offers at the same hotel to secure a lower-priced reservation. How, you ask? Maybe you’re searching for a 4-night stay in Dallas, and the cheapest room at Hotel ABC is $75, but it’s only available for the first 3 nights. Because it’s not available for your entire stay, the other sites won’t show it in their search results. Instead, they’ll show a $120 room that is available for the whole stay. Splitty, however, can create a “split” reservation for you that includes a combination of the $75 and $120 rooms - as an example. Unique feature: Creative rate-hacking technology. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Sometimes Splitty’s technology will reveal available combinations of rooms or rates at hotels that appear sold out on other sites. Secret Escapes This members-only deal site offers great discounts on luxury hotels and resorts around the world. Well, that sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch? The sales are only available for a limited time (a couple days, usually), and the travel date ranges are often limited too. But if your travel dates are flexible, you can find fantastic deals. Browse the site’s upcoming offers and if you see one that looks interesting, you can get an email reminder when the sale goes live. Unique feature: Limited-time-only sales on luxury properties. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None, but you must create an account in order to see deals and book. Did you know? Some of Secret Escapes’ offers include airfare. Pruvo Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes only to learn they went on sale a week later? The same thing happens with hotels; prices can decrease between the time you booked and the time you check in, and Pruvo helps you take advantage of these price drops. When you book a room with a free cancellation policy on any booking site (like Expedia or Booking.com), you can email your confirmation to Pruvo and they’ll keep an eye on your hotel’s rates. If prices drop, you’ll get an email with instructions for booking that cheaper rate. Best of all, Pruvo’s service is free! Unique feature: Save money back after you book. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Install Pruvo’s Chrome extension so you don’t need to manually email your reservation confirmations. HotelTonight If you’re the type of traveler who waits to book a hotel until you’ve arrived at the airport, then HotelTonight is the app for you. HotelTonight offers discounted rates at just a handful of properties, so you don’t get stuck with analysis paralysis. The deepest discounts are usually on last-minute reservations, though you can book months in advance if that’s your style. The company puts hotels into categories like “Basic,” “Hip,” and “High Roller,” to make your decision even easier. Unique feature: Best deals on same-day reservations. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Get extra discounts, credits, and amenities through the HT Perks program. The more you spend, the better the benefits. Did you know? The “Daily Deal” gives you an extra discount at one property - but you need to book it within 15 minutes. Dayuse Day trips, red-eye flights, meetings, photoshoots - there are many reasons why you could need a hotel room just for a day. But until Dayuse came along, you usually had to book the room for the night in order to get access for the couple of hours you need. Dayuse allows you to book rooms at over 5,000 hotels in 25 countries for prices up to 75% off the nightly rate. Some hotels even include pool, spa, or fitness center access. Unique feature: Deep discounts for daytime-only hotel rooms. Region: Select countries around the world. Loyalty program: None Did you know? Some Dayuse hotels offer time slots so you only pay for the hours you need. ResortPass Nothing says “vacation” like reclining in a lounge chair, drink in hand, on a palm tree-lined pool deck at a swanky resort. But what if your budget doesn’t include the room rate at that swanky resort? ResortPass offers day passes to pools, spas, and other amenities at over 400 high-end hotels so you can enjoy the vacation vibes at a serious discount. ResortPass is perfect for locals and vacation rental guests too. Unique feature: Access to luxury hotel amenities without paying the nightly rate. Region: Mostly US, but some properties in Mexico and the Caribbean. Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can earn a 10% discount by tagging ResortPass in a social media post. Hopper Some studies say the best day of the week to book travel is Tuesday, but maybe the greatest savings for your hotel pop up on a Friday - you never know! Hopper is the closest thing we have to a glimpse into the future of hotel rates. The app uses high-tech price monitoring algorithms to notify you when prices drop on the hotels or flights you’re tracking. Unique feature: Price alerts for flights and hotels. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Over 30 million travelers have used Hopper. Mr. and Mrs. Smith For fans of high-end boutique hotels, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a dream come true. You won’t find any big box-style chain hotels on this site - only unique, independent hotels that offer five-star service. These are hotels you’d pick for a honeymoon or special occasion trip. Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s team handpicks and reviews hotels for the site, so you can be sure that every property offers quality and value. Members-only perks include extra discounts, free amenities, and access to the company’s concierge team. Unique feature: Exclusive perks and discounts and luxurious boutique hotels. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: The basic BlackSmith membership is free, but SilverSmith and GoldSmith tiers come at a monthly cost, though they include perks like room upgrades and airport lounge access. Did you know? Some of Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s perks include free dinners or hundreds of dollars in resort credit. Tablet Hotels Another site designed for boutique hotel lovers, Tablet offers deals on unique hotels around the world. The site lists properties included in the MICHELIN Guide, so you know they’re all highly rated for quality, service, and amenities. Tablet Plus members can enjoy extra discounts, late check-outs, room upgrades, and more. Unique feature: Only the best hotels are listed on Tablet - if guest reviews fall short, the hotel is removed from the site. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Access to Tablet’s hotel deals is free, but the Tablet Plus program offers deeper discounts and extra perks for $99 per year. Did you know? Tablet’s online magazine, The Agenda, contains high-quality articles that will surely inspire you to travel. Best Hotel Booking Sites to Find Deals Trying to save cash? These hotel booking sites are designed to get you the best deals possible. If you’re looking for certain amenities, a fixed location, or a specific set of dates, these sites might not deliver, but if you’re flexible, you can find impressive savings. Hotwire Have you ever booked a hotel without knowing the name, the exact location, or what kind of room you’ll get? If you dare to roll the dice on Hotwire’s “Hot Rate” hotels, you just might be rewarded. Hotels in this program offer significant discounts (think 40 or 50% off), but with a catch: Hotwire does not reveal the name of the hotel until you’ve confirmed your reservation. Unique feature: “Mystery hotel” offers. Region: Primarily US Loyalty program: None Did you know? Hotwire’s Hot Rate hotels do disclose some amenities, so you’ll know if your hotel has free parking, a pool, or a gym. Groupon If you’re searching for a cheap vacation with no particular dates or locations in mind, Groupon can be a gold mine. The site offers hotel stays or vacation packages for destinations around the country (and sometimes Mexico and the Caribbean), but the terms and conditions usually include fixed dates or restrictions. Make your decision quick, though, because the offers are often only available for a limited time. Unique feature: Deep discounts on only select participating hotels. Region: United States, Caribbean, Mexico Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can search by “interest” rather than destination, so if you’re looking for a romantic vacation to nowhere in particular, for example, you can discover someplace new. TravelZoo TravelZoo is like the clearance rack at your favorite store: it has a mix of everything, prices are deeply discounted, and sometimes you can find an absolute gem. TravelZoo offers over 2,000 travel products - including cruises, airfare, hotels, and packages - at significantly reduced rates. Most offers are only valid for a specific set of dates, so if your travel is flexible, you can get the best value. Unique feature: Discounts on hotels, cruises, airfare, and vacation packages. Region: Worldwide, but primarily US Loyalty program: None, but TravelZoo does have a referral program. Did you know? TravelZoo also offers spa and entertainment discounts - you just need to look for them! Best Sites to Book Unique Accomodations Why stay in an ordinary hotel room when you can have a truly one-of-a-kind experience? Browse these sites to find everything from cabins to castles and treehouses to tipis - often at cheaper prices than standard hotels. Who knows, you might even meet new friends too! Airbnb Though Airbnb wasn’t the first website to offer vacation rentals, it definitely made more people consider switching from hotels to rental properties. Airbnb hosts offer a huge variety of spaces, including apartments, homes, treehouses, tiny houses, private rooms, and more. Because many Airbnbs don’t offer the same services as hotels (like daily housekeeping), you can find some great deals, especially in big cities. But not all Airbnbs are cheap - prepare to pay hundreds of dollars per night for a castle or a beachfront villa! Unique feature: Airbnb encourages hosts to provide exceptional hospitality to their guests, even rewarding top hosts with “Superhost” status. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can pair your accommodation with an Airbnb Experience, which are host-led tours or activities like cooking classes, walking tours, or bike expeditions. Vrbo Originally called “Vacation Rentals By Owner,” Vrbo focuses on traditional vacation rentals, like homes and condos. You won’t find any cheap shared rooms here, but you can still find some great deals, especially if you’re staying for a while. Some Vrbo property owners offer weekly or monthly discounts. Unique feature: You can filter Vrbo’s search results by Property Type, so you can narrow down your search to cabins, bungalows, or chalets, just to name a few. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Vrbo and its sister site, HomeAway, are now part of the Expedia Group. Hipcamp If you want to get out in nature, Hipcamp might be your new favorite site. Instead of hotels, this site lets you book more than 300,000 camping experiences that range from BYO-tent campsites to RVs, cabins, and yurts. Listings are created by hosts, so you can enjoy the same personal touch and connection that you can find on Airbnb. Unique feature: The Hipcamp of the Year lists highlights the top-rated campsites in every state. Region: United States Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can invite your friends to join Hipcamp and earn a nice referral bonus! Upcamp Looking to score a spot at a sold-out campsite? Upcamp will alert you instantly if your dream campsite receives a cancellation. When you get notified, you can book the campsite on the campsite’s own booking page. Upcamp is only available on a mobile app for now, which is easy to use and showcases some beautiful photos! Unique feature: Availability alerts for thousands of campsites around the country. Region: United States Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can choose to receive alerts for specific dates or a range of dates. Couchsurfing.com Travelers looking to save money and meet people can join events and crash on extra beds, couches, and air mattresses in hosts’ homes in over 200,000 cities around the world - for free. Couchsurfing.com uses a review and profile system to build trust among its 12 million members, and it’s not uncommon for hosts and couchsurfers to become lifelong friends. Unique feature: Emphasis on community and building personal connections. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Couchsurfing.com members have organized over a half million events. Getaway Craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Getaway’s tiny houses are conveniently located in rural locations within driving distance of major cities like New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. The cabins offer plenty of modern conveniences so you can enjoy the outdoors without roughing it too much. They include private bathrooms, kitchenettes, and A/C and heat, plus a huge window that occupies an entire wall. Unique feature: Every cabin has a self check-in system. Region: United States Loyalty program: You automatically get an 8th night free after staying for 7 - no membership program sign-up necessary. Did you know? Getaway donates to Feeding America for every booking made. Ready to hit the road? With these money-saving hotel booking sites, you can save cash on your accommodation so you can splurge on a delicious meal, a bucket list tour, or a new smart suitcase. Did we miss any cool sites? Let us know about your favorite!