Left your hotel booking to the last minute? Try these nifty ‘night-of’ solutions...
Travel tips & advice
Last-minute airfares rarely result in savings. Hotels are different.
Tech advances (from smartphone apps to inventory software) have led to slicker, swifter ways to move rooms at short notice.
As ever, savvy customers stand to benefit.
Heard of hotwire.com? It shifts unsold hotel rooms, airline seats and rental cars at discounts of up to 60pc (use hotwire.ie for prices in euro).
Another eleventh hour specialist, HotelTonight, offers a daily suite of ‘night-of’ offers based on a curated list of higher-end hotels.
Testing its sweet, visual interface as I write, I could nab a room at The Dean in Dublin from €138, versus €185 on the hotel’s website. It also allows users to upgrade at discounted rates... because suites go unsold too.
The ‘night-of’ concept is fairly simple — hotels work with companies to offer late reductions on published rates, because what’s the use of an empty room?
Plus, it’s another way to compete with Airbnb (although naturally, the apps take a cut).
Of course, you can get last-minute deals on big booking sites like trivago.ie, expedia.ie and booking.com, as well as comparison websites like kayak.ie and skyscanner.ie. But I like the dedicated focus of the niche apps, where points of distinction range from HotelsTonight’s beautiful look and feel, for example, to Jetsetter.com’s limited-duration flash sales.
For the consumer, there’s little to lose. The sites are free — download a couple to your mobile weapons cache for some extra tools to work with on the hoof... and hopefully some savings to boot.
Don’t mind where you stay? Several sites offer ‘secret’ hotel options, where you learn the name of the hotel after you book. It’s not totally random — depending on the app, you could choose star rating, location or amenities like a pool, for example.
As I write, lastminute.ie had an unnamed 5-star on the Las Vegas strip (above) from €64.95, or a 4-star “trendy designer hotel” on Dublin’s quays reduced from €255 to €165.
Hotwire.com offers deeper discounts on secret hotels, and booking.com users can sign up for ‘Secret Deals’ discounting by up to 50pc.
You’ve heard of ride sharing. But what about flight-sharing?
Wingly (wingly.io) is a website and app connecting private pilots and passengers... think of it as carpooling in the skies. Flights range from short, sightseeing spins to business trips.
Just don’t expect regular services from major airports (or Ireland, for that matter). Pilots are sharing their passion; planes are light aircraft seating two to six people, and passengers split the costs (plus a 12pc fee).
Think Cannes to Corsica from €54, or scenic flights around Oslo or Cologne from €40. Will it take off?
Read more:How to Beat Jetlag: Six tips from a seasoned travel writer