Slickdeals has a post that has since spread like wildfire to other blogs — an opportunity for 40% off of virtually any hotel, anywhere.
But the deal is already coming to an end, it seems, even though it was originally scheduled to last through January 19th. Read on, though, both because it’s an interesting story and because some good deals are still being eaked out of this one.
Last night folks discovered that Explore Cruise Travel, a USAA partner, was offering USAA members 40% off all hotels booked through January 19th.
It turns out anyone can join USAA. I did. I answered all of their questions honestly, I am not in the military, my parents are not in the military, I am not related to a USAA member, I once saw an action flick in the theatre though (which turns out not to have been required for membership). Enrollment was instant online and free.
So then it was just a matter of going to the Explore Cruise Travel website (you’re prompted for your USAA login unless already logged in at the USAA site). And at checkout coupon code USAA1 took off 40% of the cost of the stay. No matter where you were staying.
That’s some great deals. It’s like going to Expedia or Orbitz and just taking a flat 40% off of whatever hotels you booked. You could book any city, any hotel property just about.
Now, it turns out that the site doesn’t have every hotel property, I found Aman Resorts in Bali but not everywhere. I didn’t find some of the Four Seasons hotels I was looking for but did find nearby Ritz-Carltons.
I found the Park Hyatt Aviara, and it even correctly showed me the third-night free ‘free time’ promotion rate — which I should then have been able to take 40% off of. But they couldn’t get the availability to confirm. That would happen, strangely, at times. Sometimes and with some hotels quite frequently.
Other hotels could be bizarrely more money than they ‘should be’ or could be found elsewhere. Most hotels would price similarly, but some would be 20% more — or more, even — so not as tremendous a deal at 40% off.
And many for many hotels only base rooms were offered, sure I could book those Amans in Bali (which would still have been $650 per night) but I couldn’t get a pool or ocean view with my villa. (I didn’t book any of those Amans.)
But the offer is still live. It’s just that they’ve now imposed some restrictions – the stay has to be at least $500 for the coupon to work (so most one night stays at all but the priciest hotels won’t work), and it seems like more and more hotels are falling into the category of “20% higher than they should be” as I search for them now.
Still, values to be had out there!
And it’s going to be fascinating to watch. There’s tremendous coverage (Slickdeals is much bigger than many realize).
I’m not sure how they can dishonor the deal, if everyone has complied with
the rules. It isn’t a mistake. They intended to make the offer to USAA members. USAA members took advantage of it. (Perhaps they could contrive something about new members signing up only for this deal not being in the spirit of the promotion, but it’s a stretch.)
I also don’t quite get the economics of this. Booking sites do take big
commissions, especially the big ones like Expedia. Some independent hotels
can pay as much as 40% commission. But big chains don’t, a Marriott or Hilton
isn’t going to be more than somewhere in the 20% – 28% range. How could a 40% discount make sense? They would presumably lose money on every booking (except those where the hotels are just strangely more expensive on the site than going rate).
Developing, and hope some of you find some great bargains still!