Have you ever scored a discounted rate on an accommodation website, thinking you had saved yourself a mint? Perhaps you did...if you were happy to stay in a twin room and didn't need to make any changes to your booking. But if you fold back the covers and take a close look, you'll find that discounted rates via the web aren't always the cheapest.
Discounts with refunds? Forget it!
When booking through hotel or last-minute websites, it's easy to be beguiled by the 'lowest rate' headlines and miss the fine print. Any discounted room night is likely to have strict conditions. In most cases you'll have to pre-pay it in full, and don't expect any refund if your booking needs to change.
In sports and entertainment, bookings with flexibility are a must. In fact, around 30% of hotel bookings made by Stage and Screen via a global distribution system (GDS) are amended or cancelled.
The overwhelming majority of bookings for our independent travellers are also made through the GDS, which shows flexibility is ever important.
The bottom line is that unless your travel plans are set in stone, discounted or last-minute rates are not going to save you. Truth is, they will probably cost you more than other booking methods.
Are last-minute rates really the lowest?
In many cases, no, they are not. That's because travel companies like Stage and Screen have all available rates at their fingertips, as well as 'entertainment' rates. These are rates we can specifically negotiate because we're entirely dedicated to your industry.
They're extremely competitive and more often than not, lower that what you will see advertised on the web - without all the strict terms and conditions!
The following market snapshot of room rates from May 2012 paints a clear picture of how Stage and Screen can capture rates that are often substantially lower than web deals. In some cases, our rates are more than $100 and $200 cheaper at the same properties.
Keeping clued up
Of course there are instances where our clients know for sure that their plans won't change, and they are happy to book prepaid, nonrefundable hotel rooms if it means saving money. Stage and Screen generally makes these bookings through the GDS. As an option, we can also offer our clients access to our sister brand Quickbeds.com, which offers a huge online choice of more than 34,000 properties and is particularly good for international bookings.
If using Quickbeds or any source, the first thing we do is give our clients the low-down on any terms and conditions associated with the rate. It's important that you and your travellers have this insight, so you understand where you can come unstuck and why it makes better sense to book a more flexible option.
Taking care with group bookings
Group travel is one area where you should never rely on last-minute booking sites or prepay your bookings in full. Wotif, for example, only offers rates for 'free independent travellers' and, unbeknownst to travel bookers, may only have a small number of hotel rooms to sell at the advertised lowest rate. The advertised rate can be completely misleading if you need to book up to 10, 50 or 80 rooms!
Group bookings should always be negotiated for you by Stage and Screen, as hotels need to consider a whole gamut of factors. These range from the number of rooms needed, to dates and length of stay, to special events that may coincide with the booking dates. Our team will work with the hotels to strike a fair group rate that fits your budget and gives you flexibility.
Being savvy about your choices
Stage and Screen uses a multi-channel platform that gives you three main ways to make your bookings. Whether you want lastminute room nights, or flexibility, or bookings that are completely refundable, you can make them through us and know that you've always got the best rate possible.
- You usually can't change your booking.
- There are rarely any refunds.
- Hidden fees might only be revealed late in the booking transaction.
- Many bookings demand a minimum night stay.
- Bookings are usually prepaid
Stage and Screen's Global Hotel Programme
- Accommodation is fully refundable.
- You have a great choice of properties at Best Available Rates – often lower than last-minute rates.
Stage and Screen's specially negotiated entertainment rates
- These rates are exclusive to your industry and often lower than last-minute rates.
- Most of these rates come with a 6pm same day cancellation policy.
- You will be given preference to free upgrades and VIP status.
Your quick guide to hotel bookings
Booking room nights can be a headache if you're not sure where to start. When do you use last-minute rates, or Stage and Screen's entertainment rates, or other types of pricing? Our Q&As below run you through all the options, so you can sleep easy knowing you have the best rate for your needs every time.
What are last-minute rates?
These are discounted or packaged room rates you can book at the last minute.
When should we use them?
Only when you've missed out on making an advance hotel booking and are 100% sure your travel plans will not change. Stage and Screen can give you a corporate login for our affiliated online brand, Quickbeds.com. This enables you to book online with no booking fees.
What is the Best Available Rate (BAR)?
This is the best non-negotiated rate you can secure at the time you make your booking. While BAR rates move up and down with demand, each hotel can change its rates – even daily if it wants to – so it can match local conditions.
When should we use it?
The first thing to do with any hotel booking, is check with your travel management company to identify the best available rate. Then work out whether a different pricing method will suit your needs any better.
What is dynamic pricing?
This is a discounted rate off the BAR, offered by many hotels based on advance bookings. You can negotiate a fixed discount off the BAR if you have enough room night volume. The discounted rate generally fluctuates in line with BAR fluctuations.
Dynamic pricing usually guarantees you the lowest unrestricted rate available on the day - even lower than internet rates. Yet if hotel demand is high, your rates may well increase above fixed rates!
When should we use it?
Stage and Screen recommends dynamic pricing when the BAR is lower than our negotiated entertainment rate, provided you are fully aware of – and comfortable with - the terms and conditions associated with the BAR rate.
What is the Global Hotel Programme?
Stage and Screen has a massive, cost-saving resource at its fingertips - a Global Hotel Programme (GHP) with more than 16,000 properties across 4,000 cities in 160 countries. The programme gives you hotel prices below rack rates and standard corporate rates. While some hotels don't work on BAR, they allow us to negotiate a fixed Last Room Available rate. So you can have total flexibility and budget for the maximum rate when occupancy levels are up. Quite often, you can make last-minute changes without the angst of penalty fees and our hotel partners will throw in value-adds like free breakfast and cocktail vouchers. When we make bookings via the GHP, we can instantly see the prices on offer from different hotels, and let you know of any restrictions.
When should we use it? There may be times when our hotel rates are a tad higher than the ones you'll find on a supplier website, but paying a bit extra is your insurance for any changes you may need. We suggest you use the GHP if you are making a lot of bookings at a range of properties across Australia and/or overseas, as it will give you with the best value for money as a whole.
What are specially negotiated entertainment rates?
Because we are Australia's largest entertainment travel specialist, Stage and Screen can negotiate lower rates specifically for your industry. If your accommodation needs in certain Australian cities are high, we may even be able to negotiate exclusive rates with properties in those cities. The good news for you is that entertainment rates can be up to 30% lower than the rates you'll find on supplier websites. They are only available at selected hotels, but they are usually fully refundable and flexible.
When should we use them? We recommend you use our entertainment rates if you are booking any of the properties with whom we have negotiated them, as they're too good to pass up and it will ensure that you are given priority during your stay.
Need more details on hotel booking methods?
Just call Stage and Screen on 1300 73 73 83 for answers to all your questions.