Sep 29 2009

Review of Dealbase.com Hotel Deals Website

Originally published 1-7-09.

I recently became aware of a website called Dealbase, which attempts to search out deals and let you know if they’re really money-savers. “Hotel Deals, Hotel Discounts, Hotel Packages–We scour the web for the best hotel deals, packages and special offers and help you determine the good deals from the bad” is what the website claims.

My first test of the site was to see if it would come up with better prices that those we had paid on our recent vacation, so I began by entering the city of our longest stay, Audubon, PA. Nothing was returned in the results, so I went to the bottom of the page and browsed for the Philadelphia area to see if our hotel, Homewood Suites Valley Forge, would show up.

There were two pages of entries for Philadelphia, and I soon learned that I was taking the wrong tack with the site. This isn’t like the sites that find you a great rate. Instead, it analyzes hotel packages to see if they’re really a good deal.

Armed with this insight, I gave it a second try. In a few weeks, I need to find a stay-and-park package in Minneapolis. Browsing through the five pages of Minneapolis-area entries, I found two that looked promising.

The first was the Country Inn and Suites-Mall of America. Dealbase spelled out the deal with its deal analyzer, beginning with the room rate (found via hotels.com and the same as the hotel website’s AAA rate), and adding the value of the free parking, grab-n-go breakfast, and airport shuttle. Their bottom line: the deal saves the traveler $42/night.

The math didn’t quite add up for me, though, nor did the deal say if a stay on either end of the flight was required or if one night’s stay would secure the deal. By my calculations, the quoted savings of $35/night of parking for seven nights would more than cover the “deal” cost of $189/night. I set the math problem aside and continued on to the Country Inns website to see if I could find the deal there.

At first I couldn’t find it; I had entered AAA for the rate type and only basic rooms showed up. When I went back and looked at all the rates, though, the package was there, for either a 2-queen room or a 2-room, 1-king, suite. The price of $139 matched Dealbase’s listed price.

The nearby Radisson’s package was similar, but allowed for up to 14 nights of parking. Here, though, Dealbase listed the package at “$189/nt and up”, but the hotel’s website put it at $159. This time, Dealbase calculates the parking savings at $112 for an unspecified period of time and shows the package savings at $12.

Cancellation policies were laid out on the hotels’ individual websites, but not on the package pages at Dealbase.

Next, I tried to see if I could do better since I knew there were other hotels in the area that offer such packages. A quick Google search took me to ParkSleepFly.com where a lot more hotel options were listed. For the Country Inn, ParkSleepFly returned a rate of $149 plus a $5 “transaction fee.”

Deciding to give it a try, I clicked through to book from Dealbase, where I was taken to a page that said the promotion had expired.

I fared better with the Radisson, which took me directly to the Radisson site to book the deal, at the rate of $159.

I like the fact that booking through Dealbase goes directly to hotel sites rather than third-party sites; it is just a preference of mine to deal with the hotels directly.

What I like about Dealbase:

  • The variety of packages available, featuring several hotel chains in a metropolitan area., rather than having to search hotels individually.
  • The setup of the site in laying out the math and savings on the “deals” (even though the parking math didn’t always come out right; something with museum passes or shopping coupons likely would fare better)
  • The fact that reservations are made directly with hotels.

What I didn’t like:

  • Navigation–The metro areas are buried at the bottom of the page or on a long “destination deals” page; the bottom of the home page lists general metro areas but the destination pages list more specific cities; it’s hard to move from one to the other or narrow the location of a metro area.
  • Tags–I couldn’t search for “Minneapolis” along with a tag to narrow my search. Tags are inconsistent–one listed “free parking,” another “free airport parking.”
  • Search feature returned “no deals found” for Bloomington, MN.
  • Incompleteness–for the package I was looking for, only a small portion of hotels were included.
  • Prices–Some of the “deals” I browsed cost thousands of dollars a night. I hardly consider that a money-saving effort.

Will I use Dealbase again? It’s likely, especially if I’m considering some attractions in addition to a hotel stay. Our family of six may complicate things, as it usually does when booking a room, but this is a good starting point in locating fun-and-stay combinations.

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2 comments so far

2 Comments to “Review of Dealbase.com Hotel Deals Website”

  1. [...] Article has been moved to Travels with Children. [...]

  2. minnemom on 06 Oct 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I received by e-mail an update from the folks at DealBase. Here’s what they let me know:

    Thanks for re-posting your review of DealBase.com. We’ve made a lot of improvements since your originally wrote it, and I wanted to update you on our progress (some of these improvements address your feedback in your posted review):

    - We’ve added over 33,000 hotel deals since launching the site. This includes 67 deals in Bloomington MN
    http://www.dealbase.com/Bloomington-hotel-deals-discounts-822

    - We’ve upgraded our search to a “keyword” style search.

    - On city pages, you can now refine your results by Tag (aka Category). So you can see the 12 Family oriented deals in Bloomington, for example.

    - We’ve added a great new alerts feature. Just tell us where you want to go and how much you want to pay and what type of hotels you like, and we’ll send you an email when we find a great deal.

    We’re just starting to add deals for international locations, and have a lot more new things planned for the coming months. I’ll keep you posted of our progress and thanks again for the review.
    -sam

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