It takes Detective work when you are booking accommodation. Accommodation is arguably the biggest cost next to flights, if not bigger, so getting a bargain is something we all want.
We went to Europe in late August and September and had booked our flights well before. We did not do any detective work on what might be happening at this time; it just worked out well and we avoided the huge summer crowds that we know do flock to Europe at this time. We were quite smug in thinking that going after this boom would be easy. This is not the case.
We decided a few weeks before, that we had better start looking, at booking accommodation in advance for some of the places. However, we did come up with a lot of problems that as travel writers, one would assume, we might be a little savvier in looking for some clues.
One thing to be very aware of is that the more you search, the more the search engines can track what you are doing, and where you are going. This is called dynamic pricing, and it means that they know where you want to go, and what type of places you want to stay at; the end results are they stalk you and do not offer you the best prices. You do need to read this to know how much you are being manipulated. Traveler Alert: Which Web Browser Should you Use to Save Money? when booking accommodation.
Booking accommodation – Case Study 1, London
We went London and we started checking where we might stay. We were shocked first at the prices; rivaling Sydney which is an amazing city,, but also an expensive city. We were a little dismayed as there were so many of the hotels and apartments were booked out. It took us a while to figure out that something must be going on.
We checked the what’s on guides, which all differ depending upon their niche but then after some digging, we found out it is fashion week in London. Yes, ‘the’ autumn fashion week, where every hotel and batcave are either booked out or selling at a premium, well before, during and after the event.
So, we had to scramble to get something, which we did through trip advisor, though the map of where the apartment was supposed to be, has no correlation as to where it is. Serendipity? We will let you know.
Booking accommodation – Case Study 2, Paris
We then decided to look at booking accommodation in Paris. We were a little smarter here and went to a couple of major hotel sites, and all I could see was ‘booked out’ or prices that were double the normal rate. Now, this time I knew that something was on. Whenever we stay in Sydney, we know that if it is a big event then the prices will be outrageous, so we ‘phone a friend’.
Paris was showing this same trend. Yes, fashion week in Paris comes after fashion week in London.
Booking accommodation – Case Study 3, Bern, Switzerland.
There was no fashion week, but something else was going on in this delightful Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital city of Switzerland. This took super sleuthing to the max. Now this was a case of serendipity as Sichlete is on. Sichlete is when the farmers bring their cows down from the mountains for the winter and through the streets of Bern to the Bundesplatz. This is a big festival in Bern complete with the cows covered in flowers as well as alpenhorns playing. This is something that has been high on my list forever, so no matter what – we were staying in Bern.
However accommodation was so heavily booked, that again we found ourselves in a quandary. We also discovered by a lot of detective work, that there is a major event on called Swiss Skills Bern, where there was a major gathering of young people showing their skills in various trades in some type of competition. We will get back to you on that. Also, parliament was sitting, so the entire place was sought after during this period.
How to determine if it is a peak booking period for hotels and accommodation
Finding this information out is not easy. As travellers we don’t look for randoms like parliament sittings or a medical conferences, but all of these things can impact on booking accommodation. We forget that many of these cities and towns host major events that do not appear on traveller’s information portals, or indeed travel agents lists.
The signs to look for when booking accommodation, or before booking flights, are:
– lack of rooms
– inflated prices compared to the prices on other days
– try every ‘what’s on in … guide’, and this often won’t even yield results.
– email the tourism board. They know everything.
It takes effort, but ..
While this might all be a lot of work, it is a cost saving exercise if you do your homework correctly. Would we have offset our dates? Maybe. However it is serendipity that I get to see the cows come down from the mountain, and serendipity maybe that we really don’t know where we are in London.
Booking accommodation requires Sherlock Holmes skills so that you are not getting slugged with a huge bill.