HotelStorm Saved Me Lots of Money
Have you heard of HotelStorm to book discounted hotel rooms? I had not heard of the site until on our recent Christmas road trip across the country and discovered it while I was on my laptop searching for a room for that night. Hoping to get a deal on a last-minute reservation but I also knew it was just as likely that I’d get gouged for booking last minute. After checking member prices for Marriott Bonvoy and IHG, IHG offered a little bit lower price for the area so I decided to go with a Holiday Inn at member’s price $90 (not including taxes). When I clicked to book a room, my Wikibuy browser extension from Capital One popped up with a price of $56.
I usually don’t pay much attention to Wikibuy popups but $56 made me click through. Wikibuy took me to the HotelStorm website which had a room (hotel’s choice of room) for $56, including taxes $73.65. It felt a little like it was too good to be true but I decided to go for it before the price disappeared. I was very happily surprised by how easy it was to save money with HotelStorm. By the way, the photo isn’t very good because I was taking a picture of my computer screen but you will see that for some reason HotelStorm showed an IHG price of $75 but the actual price on the IHG site was $90, so the savings were substantial. (See below about using Wikibuy.)
I Had a Positive Experience with HotelStorm but Many People Don’t
I’m glad I had not read about HotelStorm before I booked that room night. Fortunately, my experience went very well. After booking and prepaying the room on HotelStorm, I got an email simple confirmation. When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, my reservation was there and we were given a room with a King bed, which is what I was hoping to get but I would have been fine with two double beds.
After checking in I did an internet search on HotelStorm and discovered mostly negative reviews. Lots of negative reviews! From my experience, the only negative was that I did not receive IHG points for the stay but that’s true with all third-party bookings. I’m a platinum member of IHG but it doesn’t really give me many benefits like free breakfast so the savings was absolutely worth it. Plus, I paid with my Capital One Venture card so I can erase the charge vs. getting extra points if I had used my IHG card booking through the IHG site. (See below about “erasing” travel costs with Capital One.)
HotelStorm Made Me Realize “Best Price” and “Member Price” Isn’t Always Best
I was naive thinking a chain’s best price is the “Member Price.” Clearly this is not true. When I checked out of the Holiday Inn, I questioned the staff why a third-party company would have such a large discount compared to prices offered to loyal members. Obviously the front desk staff doesn’t set corporate policy but it has made me be much less confident about getting the best deal on a hotel chain’s own site.
IHG, as well as other hotel chains, have “best-price” guarantees but you can Google that and you will find a lot of member dissatisfaction of all the loopholes available for the company not to rule in your favor if you file a claim. I knew I would not qualify for the best-price guarantee because my HotelStorm’s booking was a room at the hotel’s choice so it’s not the exact same offer as on the IHG site.
Finding the “Best Price” Takes a Little Time
I care about getting a good price but not enough to spend hours to save a few dollars. I regularly spend about 15 minutes comparing AARP, Hotels.com/venture and my main go-to members sites for Marriott, IHG and Club Carlson. There are many other options I probably should regularly check such as my Chase Sapphire Reserve travel portal, Priceline, etc. This Christmas was a little hectic so I feel good with the savings I got from a little research.
On our 8-night Christmas trip across country I got the best price for our first night on AARP at the Sleep Inn saving $30 over Hotel.com’s price; the second night booked on Marriott’s site didn’t offer any price difference so at least I got points for booking; then I booked 4 consecutive nights with points on IHG (4th night free); then I used HotelStorm saving about $40; and for the last night I used IHG’s site with no price savings but got points. So for 8 nights, after I erase two nights with my Capital One Venture points, our total cost for 8 nights was only $192.14. Not bad!
How to “Erase” Hotel Costs with Capital One Venture
Very quickly I want to explain how “erasing” travel costs with Capital One Venture works…There are quite a few ways to use points but I find the easiest to be simply using your points to pay for a hotel room charge. It’s probably a lazy way to do it but I like the instant gratification.
I signed up for the Capital One Venture card last year when it had a 100,000 point sign-up bonus but it isn’t currently offered so I wouldn’t recommend signing up at this time.
Additionally, Capital One currently has an offer with Hotels.com where you get 8 bonus points per dollar spent on Hotels.com. We took advantage of that bonus quite a bit last summer in Europe getting about 30k points and 3 free nights but that offer is over at the end of January.
All in all, I have found Capital One Venture a pretty flexible card for travel.
The Wikibuy Web Browser Extension
Wikibuy is a web browser extension that’s free and it shows you discounts and/or various savings for products you are searching and getting ready to purchase. I’m sure I’m giving up privacy by using Wikibuy but I feel like that ship has already sailed so I might as well save money. I haven’t used it that much because I tend to use the American Airline’s shopping portal but Wikibuy works very easily so it’s nice to have available.