Hotel Power: New Hotel Booking Engine Has Solid Discounts

It seems like there’s a new hotel booking engine popping up every week, claiming to have the best rates.  There are some very large players that are well established in the space (Expedia, Orbitz), so I’m always skeptical when I hear that someone has “cracked the code” and has lower rates than everyone else.

When a colleague brought up Hotel Power (www.hotelpower.com), that skepticism lept to the forefront again.  But, I agreed to take a look and decide if I wanted to write about it.  I try to stay away from the polar opposites always and never, since they frequently get me in trouble.  In this case, virtually every search I performed on Hotel Power yielded lower rates than their competitors.  For my tests, I used a combination of the hotel chain’s own websites and Expedia.  In each case, I searched both the hotel website and Expedia along with Hotel Power.

In an effort to keep things relevant, I didn’t search off-brand properties, sticking with major chains like Marriott and also performing searches in Las Vegas, where there’s usually reasonable rate pressure because of the density of room inventory on the Strip.  I did over a dozen searched and in every case but one, Hotel Power showed me the lowest fare.  In the one case where they weren’t lower, they had the same lowest rate as the others.  Here’s a few examples:

For a random weekend in November, the lowest rate for The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park on their website was $550:

selling cheap

Expedia concurred, showing the same $550 rate:

selling cheap

Hotel Power was over $100 cheaper, at $439.99:

selling cheap

The only difference I could see in the rate structure was that the rate Hotel Power offered was prepaid and specified a room with double beds.  The Ritz and Expedia rates didn’t specifically guarantee a bed type but did reference King as an option.  I can’t tell if that means you’d have a better chance getting a King bed booking one of the other rates or not, but I think it was a relevant difference.

Another good example was  MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV:

MGM wanted to sell me the room for an average of $97.50 a night:

selling cheap

 

Hyatt, an M Life partner, wanted to sell it to me for $108:

selling cheap Expedia decided it was worth the same as MGM:

selling cheap

And Hotel Power came in $15 cheaper than everyone else:

selling cheap

It may not be the 970% discount they note in the above image, but it’s still 15% lower than everyone else.  That’s compelling to me.

Every once in a while when I was doing a query the website would take a bit longer than I expected to show results.  But, given the rates it was displaying, a few extra seconds was more than worth it.

Hotel Power also offers a membership program that starts a $4.95 for a trial membership and bills out at an annual rate of $49.95:

selling cheap

The club offers a 5% discount on select bookings and other benefits.  I admit, phrases like these always get stuck in my craw.  I like absolutes when it comes to benefits.  Either I do get 5% or I don’t.  So, I did a bit of research into the company behind Hotel Power, Global Travel International.  They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but there were enough complaints about other membership programs they offered that I was skeptical.

I had the opportunity to ask some direct questions of their CEO, Randy Warren yesterday.  He immediately owned that they had made mistakes with other membership products, a position that sat well with me.  He explained they were a small number of tens of thousands of memberships but that they hadn’t done everything they could with those products to make sure employees were trained to handle the issues properly.  Those lessons were being applied here.  It was a good conversation, with him being open and frank the entire time.

I also pried a bit into how their rates were lower than everyone else’s, trying to figure out the secret sauce.  It seems there’s not much of a secret.  Most of the rates they’re displaying are publicly available, while some are exclusive to specific channels they have access to.

One of the things I think the site does an excellent job of is displaying AAA and Senior rates.  These are very popular, publicly available rates, but they’re not always easy to find.  On the Starwood Preferred Guest website, there is a small checkbox in a long list labeled “Automobile Association”.  So, the option is there, but it’s not very easy to find.  Same for Senior rates.  Hotels are making these rates available but not broadcasting them loudly.  Hotel Power does, which should help the occasional traveler a bunch.

It can’t all be great news, right?  For those who value elite status, these rates are likely to fall into a bucket that’s not likely to earn you elite credits or benefits.  That’s no different than the titans of the space, like Expedia and Orbitz.  But, it is a factor.  If the rates were reasonably close in price, it might be worth it to forego those benefits.  But, if you can save hundreds of dollars, it might be worth parking those elite aspirations here and there in favor of cash in your pocket.

For me, I generally plan trips “backwards”.  I think about the hotel chains I patronize (Hyatt and Starwood) and figure out whether they have any properties I’d like to visit.  For example, the kids wanted to go somewhere with snow for a vacation I planned recently.  I focused first on destinations that those two chains had in cold-weather cities.  But, I’m not normal, and most folks book more traditionally by deciding on a destination and then trying to find lodging there in their price range.

Bottom Line It For Me, Ed

Hotel Power deserves to be a part of your hotel searches.  They were consistently cheaper in virtually all of my searches at properties that were recognizable.  This isn’t a consolidator selling cheap rooms at properties you’ve never heard of.

While I appreciated the candor and clarity from Hotel Power on their membership program, it’s not a fit for me.  I hope if one of you gives it a try you’ll report back so I can update my readers.

 

16 Comments

  1. Just an FYI: the Grand King room and the West Wing King Room you show for MGM are very different room types. I personally prefer the Grand King. The West Wing was newer for a time before the main rooms were renovated, but they tend to be a long walk from the elevators and are a little cramped IMO.

    1. Thanks, Scott. I’m surprised MGM wouldn’t have the lowest rates on the West Wing king. I can see why Hyatt doesn’t have all the rates, they normally don’t. But, M Life is usually where I’ve found the best rates for their properties.

  2. Nice, I was looking at some of the Universal hotels in Orlando and their site was $50 cheaper a night on some of the dates I looked at.

    1. Good to hear. I still haven’t figured out all of the why, but their pricing seems very good. Odd you would be going to Disney. 😛

  3. Not Disney but a rare rare trip to Universal early next year. Expedia was around $300 for Universal Royal Pacific and their site was around $250. I tried searching some international destinations but seemed very buggy and would time out.

  4. Hey Ed!
    We think you like yummy breakfasts (we don’t mean frosted flakes) and we know your wife likes a good spa treatment- so we want to challenge your tastes and wallet with the benefits of membership with Hotel Power. We have hundreds of dollars of benefits to be tapped for every trip. Let’s do the math – and see if the 49.99 makes sense for membership considering it pays for itself on the first trip.
    So, what’s for breakfast?

    Respectfully,
    Hotel Power team

    1. Scott, I’m a guy who values hotel status, so I rarely book through 3rd party booking engines. I do research them from time to time for readers. Thanks for the data points. What types of properties are you seeing this for?

  5. Nice price, but very bad service. The room type written in the reservation don’t correspond to what the hotel give you. And don’t try to get assistance, you will just not get any help.

  6. Do yourself a favor and avoid Hotelpower.com. I made (and paid) a reservation through them only to get to the hotel and have no reservation. Had to book a separate night directly with the hotel (paying again) and now they don’t want to refund my payment. I found them through trivago and already complained to trivago and also opened up a dispute through my credit card provider. These people are scammers.

  7. I have been trying to sort out a reservation for the last 24 hours. After accepting all our information complete with a credit card we received a call. Less than 24 hours after my confirmation notice was set a man from their accounting services called and said we must send in a picture of our credit card and a picture ID. We have never had to submit either of these for any other transactions using a credit card ever. We called our bank and they had never heard of such a practice. I called Hotel Power six times to try and reason with these people and or talk to someone in higher authority. The canned response was it was for my security to be sure I was using my card. It began to feel as if we were being scammed. I have been transferred twice once where after 15 minutes the party disconnected. I was assured by Danisha, Annika and Trudi that my transferred calls would be received and I have still not been aable to discuss this matter with someone in authority to make decisions. They have all my credit card information including the CV and the expiration date. I am very worried that this information is not in trustworthy hands. I keep getting emails confirming my hotel and asking for me to call and get their VIP treatment. Their treatment is inescusable to date. I would choose elsewhere. The old adage you get what you pay for is certainly holding true for me and has left me wondering if they will ever call me back.

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