Travel Transparency: BackBid and Tingo help travelers stay informed of the best deals

Earlier this year, we offered tips for saving money on hotel rooms by traveling smarter. We only wish we’d known about these three services then.

It sounds like a board game, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. Tingo takes the guesswork out of hotel booking by automatically re-booking travelers who book through its site at a lower price if the rate drops. The difference is placed back on the traveler’s credit card with no work needed from the traveler. The site estimates that travelers could have saved $314 million in 2011 by using the website.

This is a welcome relief for travelers who constantly check prices to get the best deal, often having to go through the laborious process of booking and re-booking reservations, or waiting too long and missing out on a great price. The site shows that a real traveler booking a reservation at Wynn in Las Vegas saw a price drop of $1243 from January 27th to $724 on the day of check-in, a savings of $519. Interestingly, Tingo is also part of the TripAdvisor network of travel media brands, which includes Airfarewatchdog, SniqueAway and more.

Book through BackBid and you’ll allow other hotels in the area to “bid” on your reservation – essentially trying to woo you away with promises of lower rates, increased perks, added convenience and better star ratings.

Unlike sites like Priceline, there’s no hiding – you’ll know the hotel name and total rate (including taxes) up front. Unless you’re a points or property loyalist, the chance of switching hotels for a lower rate or better amenities is often an enticement – and, as we’ve heard, you may even be offered a better deal by your own hotel. We can’t see any downsides there.

And just when you thought, “when is this coming for airfare,” we have something else.

Tripalertz this month announced an “Airfare Guarantee” that says, should travelers find a lower fare for the same itinerary with a public online travel company, the site will not only refund, but double the difference in the fare up to $100 per ticket with a maximum of $400 per household or group of associated parties. Unlike the other sites above, this puts the onus on you, the traveler, but it’s better than nothing at all!

We’ll certainly be using these sites on our next trip – what about you?