Many small businesses and self-employed consultants find online booking sites like Wotif.com.au can be helpful to land a good deal on an hotel for a forthcoming business trip, especially when that trip isn't scheduled well in advance.
Some of the best deals are for 'mystery hotels', where the booking site doesn't disclose the name or exact location of the hotel until after you make your booking.
These hotels are drawn from the site's existing pool of accommodation partners, but the prices are substantially lower than if you nominated that hotel directly.
Fortunately there's a trick to 'cracking the code' and discovering which hotel is being offered at this cut-price rate before you click the Book Now button.
Wotif list its ‘mystery’ hotels as a ‘Wot Hotel?’ deal and includes a very short description of the hotel's services and location. However, those lines are drawn from the Wotif database's entry for that hotel – and which appear on the page which lists the hotel by name but with the higher pricing rather than the mystery deal.
So a little canny Googling is usually all it takes to reveal which hotel is the 'Wot hotel'.
Look for a line in the 'Wot hotel' description which appears unique to the hotel. This could be a description of the area, building or in-room facilities, such as "separate Bathtub & Glass-enclosed Shower"
Then go to Google and enter
wotif "separate Bathtub & Glass-enclosed Shower"
That's a real-world example drawn from a 'Wot hotel' description for a hotel in Singapore - and the Google results page shows that Wotif has the same description as part of its entry for Singapore's Orchard Hotel.
So this particular 'Wot hotel' is revealed as likely being Singapore's Orchard Hotel, and the rates show a solid saving: SGD$206 versus SGD$350 for the same Superior room or SGD$336 versus SGD$550 for a Club room.
Just as important is that you can now suss out the description and location of the Orchard Hotel and determine if this really is where you want to stay.
A few more examples:
- the 'Wot hotel' which lists '25 serviced offices' and 'Complimentary carpark for all in-house guests. (subject to 01 coupon per room)' is revealed as the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
- the 'Wot hotel' which promises 'Complimentary parking will be extended to in-house guests. Covered parking for 600 cars. Valet parking available' turns out to be the InterContinental
- the 'Wot hotel' with 'Free (Standard set up in room, refilled daily) soft drinks, mineral water, juice and beer' is the Royal Plaza on Scotts
- the 'Wot hotel' with 'Meeting rooms (6-seater and 18-seater)' is the Ascott Raffles Place.
We've used Singapore for this example but of course the same strategy works in any city where 'Wot hotels' are listed.
Because Wotif tends to stick with the same properties for their 'Wot hotel' deals, once you've cracked the code and found a hotel you want to stay at (and of the selection above, I'd only bother with the InterContinental and Ascott Raffles Place) it's pretty easy to identify that hotel for subsequent bookings.
Sydney food blogger Zina Zhang also offers this great tip for identifying mystery hotels: "I normally match up the check in/out times and parking fees. Booked dozens of times and I've never been wrong!"
Note also that Wotif is awake to this trick and from time to time tweaks the hotel descriptions to remove obvious duplication in the 'Wot hotel' listing, so not every example we've given here will stay accurate. But the strategy's valid, so try it for yourself...
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.