Monday, October 19, 2015

Smarter Hotel Booking: Agoda Secret Deal

Go smarter. Go Agoda.
If you’re looking for a chance to stay at one of those high-class hotels at attractive rates or you’re simply ready for an adventure into the unknown, the hotel booking site Agoda’s secret sale Secret Deal might be just the right thing for you. Here you can find hotels offering their rooms at around 20% - 70% discount, certainly a number that sounds appealing to us travellers. It is also good to know that the hotels participating are of a certain caliber. Only hotels with 3 or above star rating and over 7 in review score from previous guests are eligible to set a Secret Deal promotion, so you are guaranteed a hotel with a certain credibility as well. This means customers can enjoy great savings on quality accommodation at distinguished brands worldwide, from luxurious five-star to charming boutique.

So what is it that makes this deal “secret”? 
Well, you won’t actually know for sure which hotel you’re booking until the reservation is done! Instead the hotel picture shows up as a Secret Deal icon. In order to keep the hotel’s anonymity some of the information about the hotel has been made vaguer than the original content, you will for instance not be able to see the exact customer review score. Instead you will find generalized feedback such as “Very Good 7+” or “Fantastic 8+”, and the number of reviews will also be a round number like for instance “based on 150+ reviews”. Although you can’t see the exact number of reviews you’ll know more or less the popularity of the property, and as the hotels have to have a certain number and quality of reviews it is ensured that no matter where you choose to stay you’ll only get hotels that keep a certain level of quality.

How does it work?
Simply browse the list of Agoda Secret Deals and apply filters based on your preferences. Book the deal that matches your liking and upon completion, the accommodation name, location, and contact details will be revealed.

Step one: Go to Agoda's page and search for the area you're going to visit

Step two: From the Search Results page, choose Deals -> Agoda Secret Deals

Step 2: Select the hotel and finalize your booking

Example of confirmed booking

So why does it have to be so secretive?
Hotels are usually reluctant to offer cheap hotel rooms in the open, as a cheap room rate visible to anyone can be damaging to the hotel’s brand. It might also lead to increased price competition between hotels in the area, where the different hotels try lower their prices in order to attract customers, which of course is not an ideal situation for the hotels.
It is also hard for the hotels to offer open discounts to just one Online Travel Agent (OTA), as other OTAs are eager to keep prices at the same level as their competitors.
When being able to sell their rooms without showing the hotel’s name it is thus easier for the hotel to offer bigger discounts, since the name and location of the hotel is only revealed to customers after the booking and transaction has been made.

Of course, as the hotels are willing to give what in some cases are really huge discounts to their customers there are of course some limitations set by the hotels in return. Most of the hotels choose to operate with a strong cancellation policy limited to the Secret Sale plan, which means that the chances are high you will have to pay the total amount of the booking even if you decide to cancel or are unable to show up at the hotel no matter the reason. Although this means that there is a higher risk for the customer it can be argued that it is fair to the hotel, that is willing to offer a stay at a significantly reduced price and thus minimum or no profit.

Also be aware that there of course might be a reason behind the hotel being willing to give such a significant discount in the first place. As you probably understand no hotel would be willing to give discounts if they were able to sell all their rooms at full price in the first place. Although the participation requirements from Agoda’s side ensure that the hotel holds a certain standard, the hotel might for instance be located at an inconvenient location. It might be low season, or the particular hotel might be losing customers to a competitor that recently opened in the area.
It might also be that the hotel simply want to fill up as many rooms as possible. Even during more popular times of the year some hotels are looking for a “plus alpha” increase in occupancy rate, as it is better for the hotel to sell an extra room at a discounted price than simply not being able to fill the room for that one night (hotel rooms come with a “best before” date, as today’s unsold rooms cannot be sold tomorrow).

If you’re adventurous and want to try something new it might be a fun way for you to book your hotel. Remember that there are the mentioned risks involved – but hey, that’s a part of being on an adventure!


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About Me

The Cosmopolitan Expat:
The classical story about a girl who went for a one-year exchange program to Japan, fell in love and got stuck there. Starting out as a student in Kyoto in 2010 I now work full-time in Tokyo as a hotel consultant, and write mostly about my travels, working life in Japan as well as a bunch of random stuff. Stricken by 職業病 I also write about hotels and share updates about new opening hotels and/or time sales in the Kanto region.

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