Hotel room price protection from familiar watchdog group

Travelers booking hotel rooms often use a variety of sources while trying to get the best price. Once satisfied that they have found the best price, they book it and forget it. What they don’t realize is that between booking and staying, the price may very well go down. A price drop might happen for a number of reasons and might be a limited-time offer too. Now, a new service tracks hotel pricing and automatically refunds the difference between what a traveler paid and the lower, sale price.

Tingo is the first hotel booking site that automatically rebooks hotel rooms at a lower price if the rate drops, and then automatically refunds the difference to travelers’ credit cards.

“Travelers could have saved millions last year had there been a simple system in place that automatically rebooked their rooms,” said Smarter Travel Media General Manager David Krauter in a release. “And that’s what Tingo does, by taking the gamble out of booking and refunding travelers’ money when rates drop.”

The deal is simple: Book a “Money Back” room and Tingo watches that room’s rate to see if it changes. If the price drops, Tingo rebooks that same room at the lower rate and refunds the difference to the booking credit card.

The process adds up to big numbers too. Using comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Worldwide, January 2012, Tingo estimates that in 2011 alone, Americans could have saved nearly $314 million if they had had access to a site like this.

“It’s a no-brainer,” adds Krauter. “And just to put it in perspective, $314 million would book the $2,000 per night Penthouse at The London NYC, straight through for the next 350 years.”

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is. Tingo is a sister site of Gadling favorite AirfareWatchdog, a site best known for tracking airline fares and notifying members when point-to-point fares become available that match what the member is willing to pay.

Flickr photo by Bob B. Brown

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?