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Travel Advice: Lower down the Travel Budget

EVERYONE loves a bargain. And everyone knows that the real place to get a bargain is at an auction. The thought of getting something at a price you are happy with is very appealing. So on a trip, how to pay less money but see more?

I buy wine at graysonline. I pay about $5 a bottle. Most times it is pleasing to the palate. On the rare occasion that it isn’t good enough to drink, the wine makes a great base for my spaghetti bolognaise sauce.

The thought of getting something at a price I am happy with is very appealing. So, imagine my delight, when I found out that through Ubid4rooms I could start making bids on hotel rooms.

YOUR SAY: Tell us your Ubid4rooms tips below

I am a user of Wego and the many other sites that sell hotel rooms cheaply on the net. But surely bidding for a room must prove better than that. Well that’s my theory.
I had a $600 budget and needed at least a two-bedroom apartment in Coolum for two nights and a room in central Adelaide for a night. I chose Element on Coolum for our family Sunshine Coast stay.

I started at the top and submitted my first bid on the resort’s three-bedroom penthouse. The Ubid4rooms booking tool told me the minimum bid Element would accept was $430. So at 9am that’s where I started. At 10.40am the hotel emailed me back politely letting me know that I was not successful and informed me that the average price this room has gone for was $480, plus the $4.95 booking charge.

I scaled back expectations and put in a $394 bid for a two-bedroom apartment. It was accepted.

The only trouble was that when I checked I didn’t get the best deal – was selling the same room for $189 a night.

I rang Element on Coolum to see if I could use my negotiating skills to get it even cheaper still. Alas I failed. The best price I could get was $225 a night.

Not feeling too good about myself I rang Ubid4rooms general manager Gary Berman for advice.

“Seeing how low you can go via our bargaining process certainly gets you a better deal than just accepting the advertised rate,” he said.

YOUR SAY: Tell us your Ubid4rooms tips below

“Avoiding peak times also scores you a better deal like staying away from beach resorts in the main summer holidays or big cities during major sporting events or festivals.

“The best bet is to start halfway between the minimum rate and the average accepted bid price and see what the hotel comes back with. But if booking during a peak time, it’s better to start between the average bid price and the advertised discounted rate.

“Either way, you’ve got a great chance of scoring a unique price that’s lower than the advertised discount rate that you see on lots of other booking sites as well.”

Armed with Berman’s advice I started to bid on the Adelaide hotel, the Grand Chancellor Adelaide on Currie. The hotel’s website was offering the room at $225 a night. Wotif had it at $195 and had it at $193.

I wasn’t going to be beaten this time. I put in a bid of $184 and five minutes later I had my room, at the cheapest price I could find. This time I was the winner, and it felt good.

So what is the best deal Ubid4rooms has done?

“The best successful bid was $1800 for three rooms for two nights in a NSW hotel which was a $550 saving on the already discounted rate of $2350,” Berman said.

“Hotels and other tourism operators need to be more innovative in the way they attract customers. The consumer is now definitely a more aggressive bargain hunter. A vacant room is revenue lost forever.

“It’s better to have a bum in a bed than to leave it empty and it’s better to have a customer driving your car than the car sitting in the parking lot doing nothing.”

So what did I learn? Just like any other auction, do your research to make sure you are getting the best possible deal.

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