We’ve all seen the Trivago commercials. You can’t miss them – the company spent more than $108M last year to buy TV commercials so we all would remember their name (and critique the clothing selections of pitchman Tim Williams.)
The ads make it seem like Trivago is simple to use, and will save us cash on booking a hotel room for our next trip. But, does the site work as advertised?
Well, I’ve used it, and I can say that in my experience, yes – Trivago works as advertised. But it does take a leap of faith to hit the booking button.
To back up the story – Chris and I were going to Southern California for a few days at the end of July to visit friends and also check out the 60th anniversary celebrations at Disneyland. Our hotel of choice in Anaheim is the Hilton. The convention hotel is popular, and for good reason. It’s only a couple blocks away from the Disney parks, has a great pool complex, and offers many food and drink options under one roof.
While there’s much to like about the hotel, what I didn’t like was the price which kept popping up when I was searching around for a room. Almost every site I hit was quoting us about C$200, plus taxes and fees. That left it priced out of our budget for the trip, and our other preferred hotels nearby were either full or priced not much better.
Taking a break from the search for shelter – remote control in hand – I was watching the Food Network when the Trivago ad popped up. That’s when I thought, “hey, let’s see what they’ve got.”
I cracked open my MacBook Pro and called up Trivago. I punched in the co-ordinates for our trip to Anaheim and waited for the site’s search engine to spit out results. As advertised, it’s dead simple to search using Trivago – you start with your destination, add in your travel dates, and then fine tune the search based on star rating and neighbourhood.
When the results flashed up on my screen, I was a little surprised. The very same Hilton Anaheim I was finding for $200+ on other sites showed up for $165 + fees and taxes. I actually had to do a double take to make sure I had inputted the correct dates. But, in fact, it was indeed $35/night (or $70 for the whole trip) cheaper than the other travel sites. Without hesitation, I clicked the link to book the room.
Making a hotel reservation is where Trivago differs from your other online travel booking experiences — and is where a leap of faith is required in using the service. While Trivago does the legwork to find you the best price, you eventually get handed off to another website to actually make the booking. And, Trivago doesn’t lie when they say they aggregate their search results from a myriad of sources.
To get our $165/night rate, we would be booking the trip through a travel site I had never heard of before – AMOMA.com. Historically, I’ve only ever booked hotels through Expedia (save for that one night I booked a hotel with Travelocity – and that ended up being a not-so-fun, hotel-oversold experience), and so I was hesitant.
After doing some reading, I deduced that in fact AMOMA was the real deal – a travel company based in Geneva, with its credit card payments processed in France. And the fact that Trivago (which – by the way – has Expedia as one of its major financial backers) was okay with using AMOMA as part of its search results, I felt comfortable with the site. So, I entered my credit card information, and hit the book button. Within seconds my e-mail pinged with a confirmation letter and receipt. We were booked – total price per night (including taxes and fees) C$199. We easily saved $70 on the trip (which is good for a few churros at Disneyland), and got the hotel we wanted.
I’m smart enough to know that not everyone may have the same experience in booking travel with Trivago – and there are always the people out there who are chronically unhappy with pretty much any travel service. But from where I sit, Trivago worked as advertised. It found me the best price on the hotel I wanted. And when you do that, you can wear whatever you want, Mr. Trivago Pitchman!
Which sites do you rely upon to make your online travel bookings? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclosure : While this might have sounded like a really rosy, positive, almost advertorial blog post, I can assure you that this is not a paid content post. I have no business relationship with Trivago, AMOMA, Expedia, Hilton, or anyone else I may have mentioned in this (other than having handed over my hard earned dollars to them.) Hell, I didn’t even earn Hilton HHonors points on this booking!