Whether for business travel or a well-deserved vacation, these days we get to be our own travel agents and seek out the best rates, but how can you know for sure who has the best site when they all say they can get you the best rate over their competitors? Well, based on a couple of key criteria, each site has its own strengths, weaknesses, and perks. Here are some of our tried and trusted resources:
Given that these are two of the top names in online travel discounts, they also get top billing with airlines, hotels, travel agencies, tour groups, and cruise ships. There is a reason that these are listed together though. Ironically, upon visiting the two sites, you will notice that they’re exactly the same. Meaning that they’re the same site with two different domains. Upon running a flight, we found that a non-stop flight from Vancouver, Canada to Cancun, Mexico costs $50 more CAD at Travelocity while Expedia charged the lesser of the two for the same flight, same seating availability, etc. If you like throwing away extra money for no reason whatsoever, be my guest, but since they’re both the exact same site with a different name, one would expect the price to be identical, no? They both offer very comprehensive options for flights and pricing and have very user-friendly interfaces, but Expedia is the winner here.
Obviously, we think booking a furnished rental is the way to go for amazing accommodation, but if you insist on browsing hotels, Hotels.com seems to be the way to go. When running the pricing and availability tools from Priceline, Hotels.com, and iTravel2000, there were a ton of discrepancies. For example, hotels in Cancun on the same stretch of Boulevard Kukulcan (aka Hotel Row) varied by as much as $400 CAD per night although they had the same 4-star rating and were based on average room rates. What was really interesting was that Hotels.com beat out both iTravel2000 and Priceline by as much as $100 per night for the same hotel and average price room. Hotels.com also had the most user reviews for each hotel they featured, outnumbering Priceline’s user reviews by 1500+ in some situations while iTravel didn’t readily display user ratings without users having to select the hotel first. So, with that being said, Hotels.com it is!
When it came to cruises, a Southern Caribbean cruise had two very different rates for a 14-day cruise although they were with the same cruise line, boat, and quarters. When Transat Holidays and Selloffvacations.com were compared, Transat had a few of the cheaper options for living quarters still available while Selloff did not. However, the price for a mid-rate room differed in Selloff’s favor by $50 CAD for one sailing and by a whopping $540 CAD on another sailing for the exact same cabin with a balcony. The discrepancy was a little trouble, which did highlight the need for travelers to definitely do their homework before going with just one site, but there were other perks that Selloff had that Transat didn’t. Selloff also featured two more cruise lines for booking and pricing than did Transat, and Selloff had many more last minute bookings. A pricing tool attached to search filters is also in place at Selloff, which is meant to help guests get a better idea of prices with promo codes and any seniors or military discounts factored in before proceeding to checkout.
I know that Selloffvacations.com seemed great with cruise rates, but when it came to last minute deals, a smaller outfit by the name of Travelzoo.com came out as the better contender They were offering a trip to Paris from Toronto for as little as $699 for 5 days in a 4-star room while the lowest rate for the date selected at Selloff was double the price. The only issue with Travelzoo is that you have to sign up as a user to view specifics on rates, but because of this, you may also be eligible for discounts and promo rates that you would otherwise be unable to due to there being no requirement to be a member on Selloff to see and compare rates.
Many travelers loooking for a great flight deal were excited about the introduction of GoogleFlights, but sadly, four years later, it iss just not finding the cheaper flight deals that sites like skyscanner.net, kayak.com and hipmunk.com seem to dig up. With Skyscanner, you can search the entire month to see what dates offer the lowest prices, and if you don’t mind where you go as long as you can get there cheaply you can use Skyscanner’s ‘search everywhere’ option which lists the cheapest flights from your local airport in price order.