Promising the “juiciest deals globally,” new booking site HotelPower.com hopes to entice shoppers looking for bargain-priced hotel rooms. Membership costs $49.99 annually, and members get access to an inventory of about 400,000 properties worldwide. HotelPower says it offers up to 70 percent off rack rates at these properties.
That’s a big claim.
We recently took a test drive to see if this new booking site is worth it for the average consumer. Here’s what we found.
These Deals Are Exclusive
HotelPower runs on its own booking engine, which means its deals can be exclusive to the site (and you may uncover rates you won’t find anywhere else online). Better yet, the selection of hotels includes heavy hitters like Ritz-Carlton, Atlantis, and a number of luxury properties in metro areas like Las Vegas, New York, London, and so forth. So the inventory isn’t small (a complaint often lobbed at flash-sale sites), and more importantly, these are legitimate name-brand properties.
The Deals Aren’t Bad
We performed a number of searches, comparing HotelPower’s rates to those displayed on Priceline, Travelocity, and directly through the hotel. We found that in general, HotelPower did have lower rates. For instance, a search for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas uncovered weekend rates in January for $255.50 (plus a $28 resort fee). Priceline turned up rates for the same dates for $313.50. Similarly, we found rates for just $386.40 per night at London’s luxury Langham Hotel (Travelocity’s comparable rate was $464.59). While nothing quite reached the 70 percent savings touted on HotelPower’s website, we did find deals around 10 to 35 percent off. Not bad.
However, these savings tapered off with lower-end properties; rates for most mid-level Vegas properties, for instance, were about the same on HotelPower as what you’d find via other online travel agents (OTAs). Often, we even found better deals directly on the hotel website, especially when you take into account package offers, free nights, comped breakfasts, and so forth. So it seems that the biggest savings to be found are on luxury properties and high-end chains.
Part of HotelPower’s shtick is free perks and credits, which the site calls “lifestyle cash.” The site will add credit to your account for select bookings; this credit can be redeemed for food and beverage costs, room upgrades, spa treatments, and so on. HotelPower also offers 5 percent cash back on select properties (it doesn’t say which ones or how often) as well as referral bonuses to sweeten the savings. These value-adds are, again, exclusive to HotelPower. If you’re likely to avail yourself of the property’s spa facilities or you’re looking for an upgraded ocean view, these bonuses may well be worth a membership.
It’s Not Free
Unlike flash-sale sites like Groupon Getaways or Jetsetter (our sister company), joining HotelPower isn’t free. The annual $49.99 fee isn’t a game-changer, but if you never book a stay, that’s like throwing fifty bucks down the drain. So this site is useful only if you’re definitely going to book a room or two and the savings you uncover are $50 or more. Given our test drive, saving $50 on a single stay is likely if you’re booking a high-end property. But the membership probably isn’t worth it for one night at the local Holiday Inn.
Taxes and Fees Aren’t Always Included
Ah, one of our travel-booking pet peeves. Displayed rates may not include taxes and fees on HotelPower (a trend we find as pleasant as 16-inch-wide airplane seats). Resort fees can be astronomical and local taxes can be high, meaning that the great rate you found may not actually exist. Before you book any deal, read the fine print. It’s not a bad idea to call the property directly and ask about additional fees. Some fees, like housekeeping, can be waived.
You’ll Still Want to Compare Prices
When it comes to hotel booking, compare, compare, compare. We always check rates across a number of OTAs, the hotel website, flash-sale sites, AAA, and any other membership we’ve got. You never know what you’ll uncover, and you may find the least expensive rate from the least expected provider. So simply having a HotelPower membership doesn’t guarantee you any significant savings (although the site does offer a low rice guarantee up to three days before your stay).
Our conclusion? HotelPower is probably worth the membership if you take multiple trips per year, you’re interested in mid- to high-end properties, and, most importantly, you don’t mind doing a bit of research while you shop. Per usual, the savviest traveler is the one who does the most work.
What do you think, readers? Would you join a private members-only hotel site like this?