Is Hotels Etc. Another Travel Scam?
With all the recent travel scams it is normal to be concerned when dishing out your hard-earned money for some new “discount travel club memberships” particularly if you aren’t able to see a comprehensive database of discounts before your purchase. I did tons & tons of web research and read dozens of customer reviews for Hotels Etc., both good & bad before I decided to take the leap and join Hotels Etc about 2 years ago. The main draw for me was the fact that this travel club purchase also included access to additional discounts on restaurants, rental cars & various recreational discounts (among others). I estimated that I'd have to get some benefit from my membership at some point so how much would I really be wasting if I traveled at least once or twice a year (which I do!)? I decided to put together this article to give you a summary of my experience with Hotels Etc. and answer some of the questions that you may have.
Hotels Etc is the world's largest Travel and Entertainment Club of its kind. They have been in business for 14 years and they now have over 4 million members and offers discounts in over 140 Countries. Hotels Etc. simply sells memberships that give its members access to over 2 million discounts. They have negotiated with Hotels, Car Rental companies, Wholesalers’, Ticket companies, Tour companies and so on, so that their members receive a valuable discount. One of the most crucial things you need to consider before joining a travel membership club is how many members they have and how long the travel club has been in business. The longer the club has been in business, the better their reputation because its to convince travel & recreational retailers to offer discounts to your members because they are a large customer base. Just like an internet web page, retailers will pay to be seen on a page that has 2 million plus members/visitors.
Hotels Etc. offers 2 types of memberships, a Silver Membership which offers customers one (1) year of club membership and the member has access to only the basic discounts, up to 20% at all 6,000 Choice Hotels around the globe: Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, Ascend Collections, 60-90% at over 15,000 restaurants across the United States, up to 20% at 31,000 Car Rental locations around the globe (including every major airport) with Hertz, Budget, Alamo, National, Thrifty, Enterprise and more.
The second membership is a Gold “Lifetime" membership where members get the discounts that the silver members get, access to up to 50% off hotels along with a huge database of extra travel, golf, cruise & entertainment deals. So all around, it is better to pay one single fee and have access to everything, than pay an annual fee for the basics.
They also offer Certificates, which are usually used as employee incentives or for people who have more flexible dates for traveling. Those certificates can save up to 70% of a trip, so they are a good thing to consider if you are flexible about your dates.
Entertainment discounts available include Disney World in Orlando, NYC for Broadway show or you could visit Las Vegas, take a trip to Hawaii, go to a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, or spend a very nice vacation at the Riviera Maya in Cancun either through the certificates, or booking the hotel by using the vendors listed on the Hotels Etc. website.
Hotels Etc. continues to work on expanding throughout the rest of the world to get more local discounts. Currently, Hotels Etc’s foreign presence has flourished and they are expanding their database of discounts internationally as well. Canada and Mexico are growing their entertainment discount databases at an unprecedented speed and more and more companies are joining and offering their best discount to members. For Europe and other Countries, their strong point is still Hotels mainly but even strictly on hotels, the savings are phenomenal. In Canada, the company is offering a complimentary 3 days and 2 nights Hotel Vacation Getaway Certificate and a free membership to Condo Membership Club which offers incredible discounts of up to 80% off of Condo rates. Some condos can go for as low as $249 for 7 nights with No Timeshare presentations, No Sales Presentation, No Maintenance Fees, No Ownership, No Blackout Dates and No Booking Fees.
Is Hotels Etc. Worth Your Money?
I have been a member for 2 years now and my family joined on a little after I did and as I told you earlier, I was very hesitant at the idea of paying money to join a travel club. I used to use Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia for my travel needs and compared the prices of the three to find the better value. When I signed up for Hotels Etc. I compared the prices of hotel rooms with the prices listed on Orbitz & Expedia (I don't really deal with Kayak too much anymore) and every single room I found on the Hotels Etc. website cost less than both Expedia & Orbitz. I know it may sound unbelievable but ever single hotel that I booked through Hotels Etc. has been cheaper than both Expedia & Orbitz. Granted if I searched the internet really thoroughly, I probably could find a hotel rate that was lower than Hotels Etc. too but I don't take it that far just to get a discount primarily because I don't have the time to do all that backend research.
The fact is that as much as travel deals and last-minute bargains work for some people, I could never get my schedule to work out around a deal but instead I need the deals that work out around my time-off calendar. I would like to be able to pick out my destination, my hotel, my automobile along with my recreational activities and still be able to get a discounted rate. I've learned so much about the significance of "best available rates", "best published rates", and so on. In the end, what mattered wasn't so much the discount they offered, but the final price including taxes. I learned that many wholesalers and agencies offer you the best deal, but then add all sorts of taxes and fees.
Hotels Etc. still needs to work on their presence in the international market. In addition they also need to update their website so that it looks a more appealing to the end-user/customer. I'm also not too fond of the restaurant.com discounts because of all the restrictions involved but because I travel a lot, I'm certain that the, cruise, golf, and attraction discounts more than compensates for what Hotels Etc. may be lacking. I recouped my membership costs during my very first vacation after purchase and since the discounts are for a lifetime and new discounts are added to the member’s only site daily, I am confident that this is a solid investment and I am certain that Hotels Etc. is not another one of those travel scams.