April 26 2014

Thank You HotelTonight

Posted on the 06:35 am under Uncategorized by Darren Boyer

 The service available as an app on an iPhone or iPad called HotelTonight saved me $290 in 3 days.   This isn’t much but considering the entire downtown core of Philadelphia had increased hotel rates by a LOT to help ensure the Neurosurgeon convention in town was ‘well looked after’ I couldn’t be happier.   By way of background information normally I book at the Sheraton in this city.  Prices are about $100 cheaper per night than the Westin and I like the extra 10 minute walk to the usual meeting place to start the day.   However on this trip the Sheraton was charging what the Westin usually charges and the Westin was charging for 3 nights more than our monthly mortgage payment and property taxes comes to. 

On the Tuesday prior to the trip it all started to sink in how much this trip was going to cost.  On a drive with the family I asked my wife to drive while I started searching for other options.   For 2 hours or more I tried getting Airbnb, another iPhone app, to let me register and book a really neat Bed and Breakfast room I had found close to the meeting place.  After a lot of frustration I finally upgraded the app that was less than 30 days old and tried again.  This time I got to register and tried to book a room.  Later I called the Sheraton and asked to cancel the reservation. Even though I was 6 hours past the reservation deadline some very nice staff member called to the local hotel and arranged for the cancellation fee to be waived.  What a relief.  This saved enough money to feed our family for at least a week. 

Getting up the next morning at 5am Airbnb notified me that my authentication had failed and the reservation was cancelled.  Oh oh, no place to stay and I am heading into a city where every nearby accommodation knows they have a valuable commodity.  Driving to the airport it seemed best not to let Damaris know her husband may have to do some sort of contingency planning on arrival.  Thoughts of exorbitant cab fares to stay out of the area or getting a firm no from everywhere I tried to stay at after finally landing made me bow my head and pray.   The day prior I had also downloaded the app HotelTonight.  It was interesting to see all of the discounts available but using the app the day prior the app was no use.  HotelTonight is not HotelTomorrow and there was no advance booking.  Thankfully there was the Sonesta for $110 that night.  In 10 minutes of searching for rooms and about 2 minutes to set my payment info up for the first time I had a warm dry place to sleep on arrival.  Wow that just saved a lot of money. 

Even after introducing myself to the Sonesta front desk and letting them see what a nice guest I would be there was no negotiating for tomorrow.  Either I pay $270 for the next night or it was time to check out.  They suggested this was a bargain as Friday the rate would be over $300.  My thoughts were Airbnb would bail me out.  Later that night I sent a message to the owner of the nice place I had lined up at Airbnb.  Oh oh he was out of town that weekend and with nice well wishes he hoped the best for my trip.  Well wishes were nice but that night I needed a place to put my suitcase.  HotelTonight made me wait until 9am to see what was happening that night but soon advised the Wyndham, though basic in style, was only $170.  Now I felt like I was winning.  To my surprise later that day the Sonesta was back on the app for only $110 though.  I had won with the Wyndham but didn’t realize it was possible to ‘run up the score’ so to speak a little bit with this new tool.  Still, it seemed $170 wasn’t bad for a basic room in these conditions.  On the walk to the new home away from home I went by the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia.  My guess is that no hotel near a Federal Reserve bank is ever basic after visiting the Wyndham.  Wow – what a spot.  Whoever rated this on the App as basic probably flies first class too.  Maybe my favourite new room in the city. The nice front people desk at the Wyndham listened politely to my request for one more night at the same rate but felt their hands were tied.  $350 was the best they could do and really they were all booked up anyway.  So I checked out and it was time to find a new home. 

This was Friday and the convention was to start on Friday.  All of the other increases in prices were supposedly just a prelude for the army of well financed neurosurgeons that were about to arrive.  Walking the 13 blocks to the meeting there were the banners posted on the streets by the Convention Center welcoming these medical professionals to the city.  For guests like me who didn’t know about this convention and needed a room the same banners served as a notice that maybe the airport was a good option to stay since the flight out was at 6:30 anyway.  Who needs a shower on the day home right? 

By 10am I had changed my mind and decided a shower and place to study that night was better than meeting some new TSA staff at the airport.  Airbnb had some options that were as low as $62 and looked fine.  Trying several times to message a room holder and see if they too were out for the weekend it seemed now my messages weren’t going through.  Oh oh something was wrong with this app again.  Maybe wifi caused some problems I don’t know but time was seemingly short.  Now I felt under pressure.  So forget Airbnb, HotelTonight what can you do for me?  Wow just down the road was the ‘Deluxe’ Rittenhouse 1715.  Normally $350 and now for the meager $230 who couldn’t pass up this great chance to see what the holders of a deluxe boutique hotel really lived like.  After checking in I learned boutique means unique.  The desk in my room was probably 100 years older than my parents, handpainted and very cool.  It would never have worked for those old CRT screens though.  Deluxe means one of those high volume showers and a king size bed I guess.  The Rittenhouse was cool, unique and the staff felt like they were all family or close friends.

So at the end of the trip I had a shower each morning and had still saved a lot of money from the normal prices hotels were quoting.  HotelTonight is a fun app that can get you some deals.  Just be prepared for the adrenaline rush if rooms are tight and the rates start shooting up before you get that great deal.  Prices are only guaranteed the lowest for any 2 hour window.  Still much better than what I would have done without the app.  Which reminds me, the purpose of leveraging technology is to save time or money.  To me HotelTonight is a good tool and I plan to keep it.

Written by Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer is the founder and president of pcit.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts