Wotif.com and LastMinute.com.au are great ways to save stacks of money on your next hotel booking. But if you want to save even more, choose their “mystery hotel”. Now you can do it with near certainty of the hotel you’ll be staying at. Here’s how…
If there is one thing men are great at, it’s planning things at the last minute. There’s nothing wrong with that – it can even be smart when it comes to holidays, as many of the best deals aren’t on offer until the very last minute. Thanks to websites such as LastMinute.com.au and Wotif.com, it’s even easier to find out which hotels are heavily discounting.
But these websites also keep an ace up their sleeve which could pay off big time for you if you are willing to take the risk. It’s called the “mystery hotel” or “Wot Hotel mystery deal”, depending on which site you’re on. These deals usually give you extremely good discounts, often up to 50 per cent, because you don’t know the hotel you are booking. It allows really expensive hotels to discount heavily and not affect their reputation by offering ultra-cheap rooms. If the mystery hotel is a five star hotel, you can usually be sure you’re in for a good thing, but it’s a lot less certain if it’s a four star surprise. Regardless, there is a way you can narrow down the options so much that it’s relatively easy to pick the mystery hotel.
First, choose your location and dates. Now search the lists for the “mystery hotel” or “Wot Hotel mystery deal”. Click on it and open it up in a new tab or browser window. You will find a pretty minimal description but there are two keys. You will know the star rating and you will have a small box of hotel features called “Hotel Facilities” on the right hand side of the page. You’re all set now.
Go back to your other tab or window and on the left you will have the “Refine Search” box. This is where you start refining. First adjust the minimum star rating to match the star rating of the mystery hotel and click search. You’ve already severely narrowed down the options. Now use the Hotel Facilities to further refine your search by ticking them off in the Refine Search box. So if your mystery hotel has a 24 Hour Front Desk in Hotel Facilities, tick 24 Hour Reception in Refine Search and click search.
Everytime you match a Hotel Facilities feature with a Refine Search box and click search, you narrow down the options. We recommend clicking search every time you tick off a Refine Search feature. If you incorrectly match one, the mystery hotel will vanish so knocking them off one at a time makes it easier to correct any mistakes. While the Hotel Facilities wording is not exactly the same as the Refine Search wording, you would have to be pretty slow not to be able to match them.
Slowly but surely the options narrow down until you have one or two other hotels left with the mystery hotel. Now it’s pretty easy to pick which one it is by reading the rest of the descriptions you have on each. These sites only use current hotels being listed with them as their mystery hotel deals, so you know the mystery hotel is listed on their website already, it won’t be a surprise.
To give you an example, we tested this method twice over the weekend to book hotels in Hong Kong and New Zealand. Once you book the mystery hotel is revealed – both times we picked the hotel correctly before booking (and Hong Kong has A LOT of hotel options) and in both cases we saved around 50 per cent of the rate the hotels would have given us had we have booked directly through their websites. We’re not saying this method is fool-proof, but it gives you a pretty damn good chance of making the mystery somewhat less mysterious.
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.