Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. –Ayn Rand
Booking a cheap Agoda room
Accommodation costs are a big part of any travel budget, and the majority of us have no option but to pay for a place to rest our head at night.
With so much choice in the accommodation market, it can be hard to know which booking website to choose.
Just do a Google search for your preferred hotel, guesthouse or hostel, and you will see how many of them there are. On the front page alone, names such as Agoda, booking.com, Expedia, hotels.com and lastminute.com will routinely pop up alongside the accommodations official website.
Over the past few years travelling, I have used most of the popular accommodation & hotel booking websites out there.
For me the decision on who to choose is typically based on the following factors:
- Website information – How good is the quality of information? Without images and indication on if I’m booking a dorm, single, double or twin room, I will go to another site where the information presented clearly.
- Availability – Do they have the room you want? There’s no point in trying to book the room if one website has no rooms available and yet their competitors have the same type of rooms to book.
- Price – How cheap is the room advertised? Price for most of us certainly plays a part.
- Booking process – How easy is it to book the room? If I need to through a 20 step booking process, then chances are I will look for an easier way to reserve the room.
- Rewards – What do you get in return for your loyalty? If all the other factors are all the same, then earning some reward for your business can be a deciding factor.
I first used Agoda to reserve two rooms in the Sawasdee Hotel Sukhumvit Soi 8 back in 2011 because they met all of the above factors. Since my first experience, I have continued to use Agoda over and over again for my accommodation needs.
If you currently use Agoda or are considering using them in the future and looking to save some money by booking a cheap Agoda room, then I suggest using the five tips below:
1) Use them
OK, this might sound like common sense, but you need actually to use Agoda to save money vs. booking directly. Why’s this?
Well, most hotel websites advertise the full RRP per night and not ‘I know the owner, best mate rates’.
I was waiting to check out of a hotel room in Taiwan a while back, and there was a 10-minute delay because a guest in front of me was complaining. While frantically waving his mobile phone screen at the receptionist, I managed to translate something along the lines of ‘the room is $20 a night cheaper on Agoda!!!’
Agoda is a business and like any business that deals in numbers, it will book the rooms at bulk wholesale prices. The hotel (or guesthouses) stance will be if Agoda wants to cut into their profit margin then they can.
Having used Agoda since 2011 there have only been two hotels I have managed to get cheaper by booking direct. Agoda rooms usually are the same price and more often than not cheaper than booking via the hotel’s website.
2) Book in advance
The main method I use to secure a big fat discount is by booking way in advance. I’m a fairly organised traveller and plan months ahead, so I take full advantage when I’m not Couchsurfing or Airbnbing and book a guesthouse or hotel.
In some cases, this has landed me early bird discounts of up to 70% off the listed price. At the very least I would expect 20% discount for booking more than three months ahead.
Doing a quick search for a room in Bangkok six months from now and I was able to come across these deals in a matter of seconds. If I explored in more detail, I’m willing to bet there will be better details to be snapped up.
If you search carefully you can sometimes even find a small discount by booking a few days before.
3) Travel during low seasons
Granted this might not always be possible, but I find it’s best trying to avoid public holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and so on. The simple reason is most hotels, hostels and guesthouse start to get full and increase prices. Also, many hotels will pay their staff a higher rate for public holidays and special events.
Even during events like football matches I have seen the price per night of nearby hotel rooms go up by as much as 50%.
It’s true that some countries don’t celebrate Christmas in the same way as Europe, the US and Australia/NZ. For example, I was in Cambodia during Xmas, and there was no price increase but yet in Sydney a few years before I saw room prices triple for Xmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
4) Be loyal
I have used many well known (and less well known) hotel booking websites. Although this can good for trial and error, helping to find which website best deals in a certain area or country, being a returning customer has its benefits too. Because now I can combine those reward points and use them for something.
Do you need Agoda reward points?
Well if you’re a frequent traveller then these points will soon start building up and you can exchange them for discounts, or even a free night off your next trip. Stick with one system and the points will go much further.
Last year alone I used my Agoda points to get over 2 weeks of free hotel stays.
5) Pay via a rewards credit card
I use a Virgin Velocity Amex card (no yearly fee and free to join) which means can I earn one frequent flyer mile per $1AUD spent. It might not sound much but combined with spending on flights and so on, the miles soon add up.
During the past three years, I have traded miles earned on my reward credit cards for:
- Various hotel room discounts
- Free hotel room at a sold out Formula 1 weekend
- Free flight from Manchester to Bangkok
- Free return flight from Melbourne to Gold Coast
- Free flight from Australia to New Zealand
- Paid only taxes for a flight from Da Nang to Siem Reap
I take the stance that I’m paying for the accommodation so I might as well get a reward in return. Most importantly Agoda doesn’t charge any extra for American Express or credit card payments.
It also doesn’t have to be an Amex card or even Virgin Velocity, there are also Visa and Mastercard rewards cards with other banks.
Finally, double up
This is not only specific to using Agoda but for travelling in general; if you book a hotel room for one person then expect to pay more.
I’ve done my fair share of solo travelling and it’s great to have your own space. Somewhere to knuckle down and work on your blog, smash out some freelance work, or just simply catch up on some missed sleep.
The point is you can’t argue with mathematics and a $60 a night hotel room will become $30 a night if shared with a partner, friend or travel buddy (assuming they pay you!).