You’ve probably heard a lot about last minute deals, which the travel industry has made famous.
When searching for last minute travel deals, be sure to watch for the perpetual marketers out there whose fancy computer systems routinely search for things such as flights between destinations and showcase them as “deals” when in fact these are just regular prices and just a part of how flights and hotel rates normally ebb and flow. Most of the large OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) are guilty of this, and Expedia is often one of the worst offenders.
Below you will find a list of links to some of the more popular last minute travel web sites to start your search, and general tips on how to find a true last minute deal.
Popular last minute travel sites:
General tips on how to find true last minute travel deals:
- Search more than one travel site by hand, or use a comparison search tool such as BookingWiz or Sidestep.
- Don’t be afraid to not go if you don’t find a deal in your price range.
- Be flexible on timing. Last minute deals are for the spontaneous and people not afraid to grab an oppurtunity, but if you absolutely have to go somewhere on a specific time, waiting for the last minute can actually end up costing you more.
- Be flexible on your destination. If you want “sun” then you’ll be best served by searching multiple destinations – for example, Phoenix, Florida, San Diego and Hawaii or the Caribbean. Many travel sites allow you to search by destination type, although they may not have specific last minute deals within those search functions.
- Plan ahead to find a last minute deal and sign up for deals from your favorite providers. Whether it’s from a major travel site, a small site like Cheapcaribbean.com or even a hotel chain or airline that you like, signing up for their marketing emails can many times inform you of deals they only release this way. Some sites are offering these deals where you can set your location preferences, and even a few are starting to offer them via RSS feeds.
- Try a low (but not unreasonable) offer on priceline.com for a hotel, package or flight less than 2 days away from departure.
- Call around. Airlines and hotels will negotiate with you directly if they have excess inventory. Before you offer or discuss any particulars, ask them what capacity they are for a specific flight (know the flight numbers!) or how full the hotel is for a specific date such as “this weekend” when it’s Friday AM. It’s best if you know what the standard rates are and what their typical promotions are so you can make an educated offer when it comes down to it.
- Remember to be reasonable in your offer when negotiating. For example, on a $100 per night room, the hotel may pay around $20 to have the room cleaned, plus some other unknown amounts for front desk staff, laundry, etc offering $35/night won’t get you anywhere where offering $65 still gives them some reason to deal with you as a guest and clean up after you.