WHICH HOTEL BOOKING SITE IS BEST?
a guide to finding (and booking) the best hotel deal in hoi an
one are the days of a pleasant Saturday afternoon spent flipping through the pages of a travel brochure in the local travel agency, while Maureen hammers away at her keyboard to find you the best deal.
Taking her place, is the world wide web. Hours of wasted time, confusion and arguments, most likely to end in alcoholism; especially if you expecting researching and booking hotels in Hoi An (or Vietnam) to be anything like a weekend jolly to London. To help guide you through, we made like Maureen in the hope to arm you with the tools and knowledge needed to put the pleasure back into your search for the perfect Hoi An hotel.
why it's different in hoi an
In Hoi An, local business’ reliance on TripAdvisor as their first line in marketing is very blind sighted, though it’s unlikely the giant will slip from favour any time soon (and this is where the adage ‘putting all your eggs into one basket’ come into play), more and more people are losing trust in the platform; and why shouldn’t they? You don’t even need to have visited or stayed in the business to post your review. In Vietnam, the biggest thorn in the TA crown is that it is the most abused platform in circulation. Lucrative business’ have been set up to provide fake review services up and down the country, and though these ‘Engrish’ style reviewers were at one point easy to spot, these days, they are getting pretty good. For hotels, you are far better sticking to booking sites like Agoda and Booking.com, where it is only possible to review if you have booked, paid and completed your stay at the property.
What this marketing fail from local hotels means for those in the hotel research stage of their holiday, is time: as to find a comprehensive list of hotels in the area potential customers have no choice but to rely upon TA and the booking sites. As all the above work as the shopfront for these properties, their aim is to get you to complete the booking through them, rather than for you to go the extra mile to Google the hotel’s site and book the best price direct.
In Vietnam, especially with the smaller, locally owned properties that would rather plough all their money into TA and a few major booking sites than invest in a slightly trustworthy looking website, or to train staff to reply to email enquiries in a timely manner, only those with the patience of a saint and nerves of steel are ever going to get the best deal by going direct with the hotel.
how you benefit:
The great thing about this for the customer, is that new hotels with few or no reviews are forced to begin life with long (from three to six month), cheap (usually 50%+ off) soft openings. These days the standard of new hotel offerings in Hoi An is staggering and the service (in most cases) excellent - they want your reviews to be five star and numerous so they can whack those prices up as soon as possible.
This means if you are looking for the best deal, you can cross TripAdvisor off your list completely. The main reasons for this is that TA can take up to three months to even add a listing in Hoi An and even if the new hotel actually managed to score a listing pre-opening, they’d be languishing somewhere near the bottom of a list of 500 hotels - because of lack of reviews.
hotel search engines:
Where you will find these 'soft opening discounts', is on booking sites under ‘best deals’. To save time on visiting them all independently we spent time researching the best aggregate booking sites (you’re probably already familiar with the term, but for those who are not: these sites cast the net wider and comb other hotel booking sites to offer you a variety of deals with the goal to provide you with the lowest hotel rates, then compared the results with many other major booking sites, and where possible with the hotels direct. For Hoi An, we found Hotels Combined the best bet (especially as they don’t use annoying pop-ups like many of the other aggregates) with prices for the same hotel room on the same date consistently matching the best price quoted elsewhere.
Unfortunately, Hotelscombined searches do not include properties listed on Airbnb, which has become a giant in the Hoi An hotel marketplace, where (surprise) the system is being rather abused by hotels listing their rooms as ‘vacation rentals’. Despite this, it’s still worth adding to your list as the genuine listings (particularly in the beach area - An Bang) are not often listed elsewhere. To find the best Airbnb deals, we’ve like Hipmonk, which offers direct access to the deals and a similar email alert service to Kayak (read below). Helpful for those booking a vacation property ahead of time where prices may fluctuate.
best sites for early bird hotel deals:
If you have a particular hotel in mind, Kayak’s search engines may be better suited to your search as their focus has in recent times shifted more towards hotels. The difference between Kayak and many of the other sites, is that in many cases they will link you directly to the hotels website if that’s where the best deal lies. It’s best features however, is it’s price predictor tool which advises you whether to hold off booking if there is a chance prices for your chosen dates will come down and an email option that sends you alerts notifying you immediately of price changes and whether to book or stand firm.
With Hoi An’s 1990’s style hotel websites you most likely will need to install flash and if you suffer motion sickness, throw down a travel sickness pill before you start your search. Also prepare yourself for online payment systems you might not recognise. Then, if anyone ever responds to your email, prepare your filters to expect a lot of spam. Rather than address this major shortfall, Hoi An hotels are turning to Facebook as their chosen platform to do business, so to save your time, sanity and exposure to photoshopped, fisheye lens room photos, you are better off skipping the website and email altogether and directing your enquiries over messenger.
independent, on the ground help & advice:
If you have any questions on neighbourhoods, the weather, or would like us to have a secret snoop at a hotel on your shortlist, please head to our forum and post your questions there. If you've stayed somewhere special (or shocking) we'd love it if you would also help future travellers out by posting there. We've set it up so you can also post photos, so if you have concerns over beach erosion or a particular worry, we (and you) can provide photographic evidence to back up reports.
Please, bear in mind that the forum is a new edition to our website, it only went live at the end of June 2017 (we are slowly launching this organically, to avoid attracting spam) and we will monitor it closely to keep the content entirely independent.