Friday, 26 October 2012

Finding holiday accommodation - advertising websites are not always your best bet

A post today for all those who like to do weekends away (i.e. not major holidays) but always find that accommodation is the hardest thing to organise.  This post was inspired by my own experience trying to find a place to stay for a weekend away.

It is amazing how easy it is to find travel recommendations when you are going to major cities, whether you are looking to do the 5 star route or the back packer option - there are always places with reviews and comments.  It is often much harder to find recommendations for accommodation closer to home - where you live in the city and you are travelling down to a beach or holiday location or perhaps wine country for a relaxing weekend away.

I found that what I ended up doing (and taking a straw poll amongst some of my friends this is what they do too) is that they go to a dedicated vacation website, look at the options and try to get a sense of whether the location and amenities are really what you are looking for.   If you really are in a rush these websites are the best thing going around because it takes very little time to easily see what is available.

However using these websites often means that you miss many better (and cheaper) options

When I was booking a weekend trip away I thought I had looked at almost every single house that was available to rent in the location I was looking at for the dates I was interested in.  However one of my work colleagues sent to a site, that admittedly looked like it had been built using one of those auto-website builders, for a single cottage accommodation that had a better location, better amenities and a lower price than anything I had seen advertised - AND it was available.

I could not understand it until I realised that it actually was not advertised on all of those aggregation websites.  When I called to book, I asked the lady who was renting it why she didn't advertise it on those sites - surely she would get more enquiries that way.  She said that a bit risk with holiday accommodation is that you cannot check things like references and they prefer to get people through word of mouth.

So what is a better option?

I think there are several things you can do before you commit to a place advertised on one of the aggregation type websites (assuming you have time):
  1. Ask friends:  Friends and colleagues often have great recommendations of places that you would not be able to find ordinarily.  If you come with a reference people are much more willing to open their property to you
  2. Spend some time on Google:  If you are not able to find a friend who has a recommendation - a lot of these places have very basic websites on google and you can find a lot just by looking.  I did this when testing my hypothesis and a LOT of places that are much cheaper and often better suited to couples or small groups are just not advertised on the aggregation websites
Hopefully you come up with some better results that save you some money and get you a better location.  If you do I'd love to hear about it so please comment below.

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1 comment:

  1. If and when you do find this out would be most interested too.. I don't tend to travel domestically that much anyway, would rather save up for the larger international trips.. Saving up the leave as well for these extended trips