When you’re planning a vaction or traveling for business, predictability is important. You want to know you have a seat on the plane. You typically want to know where you can rest your head at night. The other thing you typically want to know is how much your trip will cost. But what if you could reduce the cost after you book?
Tingo, a new service from Trip Advisor, offers you the opportunity to book your travel now and pay less if the price goes down later. For the moment, Tingo is only available for hotels, but from what I can see there’s plenty of opportunity to save money. According to Tingo, 50% of travelers never check to see if the price of their booking drops, even though as many as 80% of hotel bookings may drop in price after the initial booking.
This looks like a classic case of finding an inefficiency in travel pricing and creating a business opportunity. If you’re going to be staying at a hotel, why not get it at the best price. Those dollars you save can be used for some other vaction expense or maybe extend your annual business travel budget.
Tingo lacks the squirrely rules that other savings sites require. You aren’t required to have the exact same booking as any other user in order to qualify. To save on your booking, simply book your trip. If the price drops, they credit you the difference.
Best Times to Book a Hotel
According to Tingo’s own data, the further out you book your trip, the more likely you are to get a price decrease. From September 2011 to January 2012, 40% of Tingo users got money back when booking at least 4 weeks in advance of the travel. At one week out, that number drops to 15%.
I would also speculate that people booking one week out may be able to find the cheapest hotel they are willing to pay for more easily due to the short difference in time between booking and the actual hotel stay, but apparently there is still some opportunity for saving.
Maximize Your Money Back on Booking
According to Tingo, booking early is the best way to increase your chances for a price drop. Tingo tracks hotel prices so you can further improve your chances by booking a hotel that frequently drops prices. Of course the key is to book a room with a money back deal through Tingo – there are a few hotels that you can’t rebook, which means you can’t get a better deal, so watch for the money back symbol on the hotel listing.
I booked a hotel room to test out Tingo. The price hasn’t dropped yet, but there’s still plenty of time to save between now and the day of my trip.
Check out this infographic from Tingo for some examples of how the service works.