With my former truck driving days behind me, I don't get to travel anywhere near as much as I once did. And it's too bad that I don't because a recent feature on NBC's The Today Show spotlighted new apps for our smart phones that makes me want to get back into travelling...just for the sake of trying them out.
According to Travel and Leisure Magazine International Editor Mark Orwoll, with more and more Americans looking to save money--especially on discretionary expenditures like travel--the traditional bargain-based websites like Trevelocity and Expedia can't always meet our growing demands in regards to urge to cut costs. As a result, more smart phone apps have sprung up to help us engage in smarter comparison shopping for the best hotel and travel packages. The best thing about these apps/sites is that the information they provide tends to be the most up-to-the-hour information on hotel and hotel package offerings. Among these apps and websites are:
BackBid - Combines the bidding process of ebay with hotel's competing for your business. How it works is that would-be travelers first create a free account at Backbid.com, then a book reservations at a hotel through your favorite website. The customer must then forward the email with your confirmed hotel reservation to the site, and it will shoot your reservation details — minus your credit card information — to dozens of hotels at your destination. BackBid then shares with you any counter-offers rival hotels may make, such as a comparable room at a lower rate.
HotelSweep - A service site focusing on travelers who prefer staying at independently-owned properties. HotelSweep.com lists more than 50,000 known U.S. hotels, motels, and Bed & Breakfasts. One of the perks of the site is that it lists mom-and-pop properties — places that generally aim to attract budget-conscious travelers, but are too small to afford the costs of being listed with multinational travel agencies. Users inpute their destination information into the site's "direct hotel search" tool, and it will produce a list of properties, which you can sort by nightly rate or distance from a particular location.
DealBase - An online source of objective information regarding advertised hotels, hotel packages, and prices. What DealBase.com does is that it sifts through each package for its true value. What you would do is log onto the site, and input your the hotel package information at your destination, then click on the listing for a breakdown of the estimated costs of the package's components. (The site even publishes a list of the "worst" hotel deals.).
Room Key - For those wanting the most practical, most simple lodging information. Room Key.com limits its selection to the more well-known hotel and motel chains, eliminating most of the uncertainty about untried and relative known lodgings. They focuses on seven hotel chains: Best Western, Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Quality Inn), Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo), Marriott and Wyndham (Howard Johnson, Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8), listing them in its search engine and displaying most of the pertinent information related to the amenities each particular facility offers. And speaking of amenities...
Room 77 - For travelers whose priority is a room with the most amenities. Room 77.com offers a search engine which researches room-by-room amenities and floor plans for hundreds of 3- to 5-star hotels in about 30 North American, European and Asian cities. Searchers can find, for instance, what window view a particular room offers, as well as detailed information on any suites within the hotel. It also offers the ability for the searcher to book a particular type of room. Travelers who book through this site have the advantage of using the site's free "room concierge" feature, in which it contacts hotel managers on a guest's behalf to request a room matching his or her preferences.
These are just a few of the most recent apps and websites dedicated to helping the consumer take better control of their vacation and lodging-related spending, without a minimal amount of additional strain to their budgets. For other travel sites, watch the embedded video spotlighting these and other apps. Or, as I always stress, perform your own due diligence when it comes to looking for the best offers--shop around!