Hotwire Vacation Packages


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Forgive me if this has been posted elsewhere.

I just noticed Hotwire Vacations (air + hotel, air + car, or air + hotel + car) are now virtually the same product as Expedia vacations. In fact, you'll see a notice of "powered by Expedia" while Hotwire searches for your package. As info, Expedia owns Hotwire. In the past, the traditional Hotwire Vacation packages provided an excellent tool for helping to identify opaque properties in their hotel-only product. This is no longer the case, and the hotel star ratings (by Expedia) can no longer be used as a comparison for Hotwire's hotel-only product. Keep in mind that the prices you see on Hotwire's new vacation package are basically rack rates, or whatever rates Expedia has been able to negotiate. Having said that, Expedia (and now Hotwire) does display a "save by booking as a package" with some (not all) hotels, with a price breakdown of air & hotel and the amount of discount booking together.

But, sadly, using Hotwire Vacations to identify properties in the opaque hotel-only product is no longer an available tool.

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Yes, identifying Hotwire hotels is now going to suck big time!

However, after looking at a few Hotwire vacation packages ("powered" by Expedia), I noticed at least one pretty neat thing with regard to pricing.

I did a Hotwire vacation package search from San Francisco to Orlando for 7 nights in January 2010. In looking through the list of hotels, I came across what breaks down to be a rate of $124 per night (taxes/fees included) at the 4* Dolphin, which is located inside Disney property.

To arrive at that figure, Hotwire breaks down the air & hotel pricing as well as the dollar-amount discount for buying as a package. Since the air fare portion is regular retail pricing, the discount for booknig as a package essentially is taken off the rack rate hotel price. In the SFO to Orlando package, here is the breakdown;

Flight price

1 adult $341.09 (SFO to MCO)

Hotel price

1 room, 7 nights ($200.45 avg/night) $1,403.18

Taxes & fees $229.44


If booked separately: $1,973.71

Discount for booking together: -$762.39


Total: $1,211.32

To arrive at the per night tax-included hotel rate of $124.32, you take the rack rate ($1403.18) and tax (229.44) to come with a hotel total of $1632.62. Then subtract the $762.39 discount for booking as a package. This brings the hotel-only compoment of the package to $870.23. Divide that by 7 nights and your per night price w/tax is $124.32.

This scenario works assuming you're going to buy retail air fare from your origin city to Orlando anyway for your 7 day vacation. How many people (and families) book retail air to Orlando, and then try to get a hotel on Priceline and/or Hotwire? Lots, I'm sure! By booking together, you don't pay any more for air than you normally would, and you get to select the hotel you wish via going the opaque Priceline/Hotwire route. In addition, since this is an Expedia product, you can generally select a specific room type, which can be very beneficial, especially for families.

How often do we see room rates at the Dolphin for $124 a night including taxes?

You really have to look through all the various hotel displays in the package. The discounts for booking as a package vary quite a bit depending on the hotel. The Dolphin was just a good example of a deep discount for booking together as a package.

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It looks like the new Vacation Package format has some pluses and minuses then.

The big minus is that we can no longer use Vacation Packages to ID opaque hotels from their icons. Hotwire no longer displays those icons in Vacation Packages.

One big plus, like in your Orlando example, is that buyers can now get the deep discount associated with a flight + hotel package purchase and know the exact hotel they're getting in advance. They no longer have to accept a "mystery hotel" in order to get the discount, as was sometimes the case before.

I've already discovered a second advantage to the new system.

Just now I was trying to ID a 2.5* hotel that came up on a Hotwire search in the Fisherman's Wharf zone in SF. This was a "hotel only" search, not a package. The hotel had never been reported to the board before, and since Vacation Packages no longer display icons I couldn't search VP for an icon match.

But when I search SF Vacation Packages now I can filter by zone (Fisherman's Wharf) and quality level (2.5*) and get a list of ALL the hotels in Fisherman's Wharf that Hotwire rates 2.5*....including the hotels that are sold out. In the old system I would only see hotels with availability. Now I can quickly view the universe of 2.5* possibilities, whether available or not.

It's going to take some time to get used to this new format. The loss of icons hurts but it seems the new format also has some compensating advantages.

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A possible word of caution here.....

I was just looking at the Santa Rosa, CA Hotwire zone. The Fountaingrove, Sheraton Petaluma and Hyatt are all on the Hotwire hotel list as 4 star properties. However, the Hotwire Vacation package (Expedia, in reality) rates all three of these hotels as 3.5 star properties. If this scenario plays out in other areas as well, then there will be no guarantee a rating assigned to the opaque hotel-only product will be the same rating in the Hotwire Vacation product. Yikes.

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I hear you. It's really the pits now trying to ID HOTWIRE opaque hotels.

Aside from ID purposes, there are both pros and cons to the new Hotwire vacation package.

Pros: Scads more hotels to choose from than the old product. A few great deals such as those I mentioned earlier. I have done further research in other ciites like San Diego, San Francisco, etc and there are generally always deals that come close to HOTWIRE / PRICELINE-type rates.

Cons: Basically a retail product now, with the exception of those "deals" mentioned above. I'd say 90% retail, 10% deals.

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  • 2 weeks later...
First Hotwire stopped displaying the number of TripAdvisor reviews and now this!

Yesterday I noticed Hotwire is once again including the number of TripAdvisor reviews in their hotel-only product. In addition to that, they are also including a link to reviews from past Hotwire guests of the property. You have to surf through a lot of reviews (some people only leave ratings, while others include comments), however there are tidbits of info that can help to identify hotels. This reminds me of the days where Hotwire used to have "customer favorite" properties and included morsles of information which could often help to idenfity a hotel.

So while using the vacation package is still a "no go" for identifying hotels, this new addition should prove helpful.

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  • 4 months later...
Yesterday I noticed Hotwire is once again including the number of TripAdvisor reviews in their hotel-only product. In addition to that, they are also including a link to reviews from past Hotwire guests of the property.

Is the number of reviews shown still from past hotwire guest reviews, or current number of Trip Advisor reviews? Or from Expedia reviews?

Also, are the links to past reviews from hotwire guests still available? I am not finding the links. Perhaps they have been removed?

I am trying to ID a Hotwire property which shows:

Recommended in 55% of customer reviewers

20+ total reviews

Overall satisfaction 3.5

Below that is the Trip Advisor Rating which in this case is 3.5.

I find numerous properties with a 3.5 TA rating, but where should I be looking to try to find the 55% and 20+ reviews? On Expedia? TripAdvisor? Or are these figures from Hotwire reviewers?


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