Last minute plane tickets rarely translate into savings. The hotels are different.
These advancements – from smartphone apps to inventory software – have led to smoother and faster ways to move parts around in the short term.
As always, savvy customers will benefit.
Heard speaking about hotwire.com? It transfers unsold hotel rooms, airplane seats and rental cars with discounts of up to 60pc (use hotwire.ie for euro prices).
Another eleventh hour specialist, HotelTonight, offers a daily suite of “night’s of” deals based on an organized list of upscale hotels.
By testing its smooth visual interface as I write, I was able to get a room at The Dean in Dublin from € 138, compared to € 185 on the hotel website. It also allows users to benefit from reduced rates … because the suites are also unsold.
The concept of “night’s” is quite simple: hotels work with companies to offer late discounts on published rates, because what good is an empty room?
Plus, it’s another way to compete with Airbnb (although naturally apps take a part).
Of course, you can get last minute deals on big booking sites like trivago.fr, expedia.fr and booking.com, as well as comparison sites like kayak.fr and skyscanner.ie. But I like the dedicated focus of niche apps, where the points of distinction range from the beauty of HotelsTonight, for example, to Jetsetter.com’s limited-time flash sales.
For the consumer, there is not much to lose. The sites are free – download a few to your mobile weapon cache for additional tools to work with on the hoof … and hopefully some savings to boot.
The place where you stay does not bother you? Several sites offer “secret” hotel options, where you learn the name of the hotel after you have booked. It’s not totally random – depending on the app, you can choose the star rating, location, or amenities like a swimming pool, for example.
As I write, lastminute.fr had an unnamed 5-star on the Las Vegas Strip (above) from € 64.95, or a 4-star “trendy design hotel” on the Dublin Docks reduced from € 255 to € 165.
Hotwire.com offers bigger discounts on Secret Hotels, and booking.com users can sign up for “Secret Deals” discounts of up to 50pc.
You have heard of carpooling. But what about flight sharing?
Wing (wingly.io) is a website and app that connects private pilots and passengers … think of it like carpooling in the sky. Flights range from short sightseeing tours to business trips.
Don’t expect regular services from major airports (or Ireland, for that matter). The pilots share their passion; the planes are light planes that can accommodate two to six people, and the passengers share the costs (plus a 12pc fee).
Think Cannes to Corsica from € 54, or scenic flights around Oslo or Cologne from € 40. Will it take off?