|by Brad Tuttle||Hotels||49|
It's funny how technology works in the travel business. Hotel discounter getaroom.com is obviously a website. But the way to get the company's best room rates is by making a phone call.
Dallas-based getaroom was launched by the same two men who created Hotels.com way back in 1991. Right now, the hotels getaroom works with are limited to locations in 14 U.S. cities, along with a few recently introduced European cities: London, Rome, Paris, and Barcelona.
The website accepts online bookings, but don't be quick to reserve via the Internet. The prices you'll find listed on getaroom are a mixed bag. Some of its Daily Hotel Deals ("Today Only" with "RATES 20–40% Lower Than Other Web Sites") aren't all that special. One of the deals listed was $179 for a room at Trump International Beach Resort in Miami. The website of the resort itself offered the same exact price on many upcoming dates.
The trick to using getaroom is to register on the website and then dial the company's call center (800/468-3578, a.k.a, 800/HOTELS-8) and ask for unpublished rates, which are usually 10 to 25 percent lower than those listed. What's most interesting about getaroom is that the traveler gets access to unpublished discounted rates similar to the way that Hotwire's opaque "Hot Rates" and Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" bidding tool work. The discounts from Hotwire and Priceline can be more substantial than those at getaroom, but getaroom has one distinguishing feature in its favor: You know the name and exact location of the hotel before you book. With Hotwire and Priceline, you only get that info after you've paid in full, and if you want to make changes, too bad.
Opaque bookings made through Hotwire and Priceline typically cannot be changed or cancelled. Reservations made for unpublished rates through getaroom's call center, on the other hand, can be changed or cancelled, albeit for a $25 fee. Getaroom charges your credit card in full at the time of booking, by the way, and refunds can take up to a month, but it's better than not getting any refund at all.
One other way to get a deal through getaroom: There's a special mail-in $25 rebate promotion going on right now, for reservations made by October 31 for two nights or more. Look up hotels and find more info at getaroom.com.
Is Hotwire a safe bet for European hotel bargains?