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HotelSlash Pre-Launch Offer

HotelSlash Pre-Launch Offer

Old Feb 28, 2023, 2:53 am
  #31  
 
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Really love your company and approach.

only pity is as usual the not counting for loyalty programs. Most of us here are attached to the one or other program.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 10:56 am
  #32  
 
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I wish you luck and will give it a try (signed up already earlier). FWIW, don't count on much success with selling paid subscriptions. Every other hotel booking site I am aware of that has tried that seems to either have moved away from it or constantly offers "limited time" free memberships. There is just too much competition from free sources. I had limited to no success finding exceptional deals with hotelslash so far (lots of errors) but I will try it again once you launch officially-- but have yet to find any site worth paying for. Capital One Spring (and all the other Priceline affiliates), Club One Hotels, Super, few other free sites come to mind. All seem to draw from the same pool of wholesalers/consolidators like Hotelbeds, which often means non realtime bookings that may or may not be confirmable. What will be the HotelSlash differentiator making it worth paying for a subscription? Honest question
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 5:43 pm
  #33  
 
Join Date: Sep 2022
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Will we still get benefits (such as Hilton Diamond) through using hotel slash?
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 6:07 pm
  #34  
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Originally Posted by godawgs
Will we still get benefits (such as Hilton Diamond) through using hotel slash?
Like any 3rd party booking, loyalty benefits cannot be guaranteed. You can certainly provide your Hilton Honors member number at check-in and request the relevant benefits but it depends on the hotel and/or who is checking you in. The only way to 100% guarantee member benefits (with any hotel chain) is to book direct.

All of that said, hopefully, the savings you realize with HotelSlash make it worth giving it a shot. Ultimately, it probably comes down to home much the savings are and how much value you ascribe to the various benefits.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:24 pm
  #35  
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Originally Posted by gil123
I wish you luck and will give it a try (signed up already earlier). FWIW, don't count on much success with selling paid subscriptions. Every other hotel booking site I am aware of that has tried that seems to either have moved away from it or constantly offers "limited time" free memberships. There is just too much competition from free sources. I had limited to no success finding exceptional deals with hotelslash so far (lots of errors) but I will try it again once you launch officially-- but have yet to find any site worth paying for. Capital One Spring (and all the other Priceline affiliates), Club One Hotels, Super, few other free sites come to mind. All seem to draw from the same pool of wholesalers/consolidators like Hotelbeds, which often means non realtime bookings that may or may not be confirmable. What will be the HotelSlash differentiator making it worth paying for a subscription? Honest question
Good questions and feedback. Ultimately, it gets down to a bit of inside baseball about how the industry works. Let me just put it this way... A website that offers below-market (i.e. Closed User Group or CUG) rates that don't require any sort of signup/paid membership is not going to last long. The internet is littered with their failed carcasses. We don't make the rules but we need to play by them.

As far as membership fees being a headwind for growth, you're right. That is certainly a challenge we will face. I will say that we're not looking to pursue the Costco or Amazon Prime model here. The goal is not to get rich, or even fund operations from the collected membership fees.

The goal is to simply play by the rules the rest of the industry follows so that we can get our users amazing deals. We will need to be able to demonstrate that ability deftly and consistently to our customers so they see the value.

Speaking of value, the fee will be relatively modest, and you're not wrong that a free trial will likely be a part of the offering along with generous promotions for those who seek them out. We're quite happy to offer Flyertalkers free membership.

Lastly, we don't deal in "on request" types of hotel inventory. Every single room we offer is instantly confirmable. That's not a game we want to play. Like with AutoSlash, our goal is to be one of the "good guys" in the industry. Then again, the bar is set pretty low, but I digress.
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Last edited by AutoSlash; Feb 28, 2023 at 8:08 pm
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:28 pm
  #36  
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Originally Posted by mgo72
Really love your company and approach.

only pity is as usual the not counting for loyalty programs. Most of us here are attached to the one or other program.
Our hope is that if we do our jobs well, it will make you think whether the points/loyalty benefits are worth the tradeoff. Maybe they are, maybe they're not.

It probably depends on how much the savings are, whether you're staying at a chain hotel where you have status or one where you don't (or at a non-chain hotel), etc. If we can save you money on your non-chain properties, then that's great as well.

Time will tell how successful we are. Any feedback, positive or negative, is always welcomed and appreciated.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 7:55 pm
  #37  
 
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Appreciate the candid answer. Though to be clear, the free membership is not being offered specially to Flyertalkers. It says it right on your site that it's currently free to everyone and has $99 a year crossed off.

Also in fairness I think the average FTer is not the average consumer- somewhat more informed, more aware of the competition, more willing to search, probably more price sensitive. You may find a small number of people in the general public willing to pay $99 a year (like TA Plus is trying to do) but you'd be hard pressed to find them here. Every time I find a deal on TA Plus, it indicates to me that wholesaler rates are out there and I am able to easily find it on free sites. I personally wouldn't pay a dime for "exclusive" deals. And there is a difference between "signup" and paid membership. I realize you need the former to bypass the hotel programs best rate guarantees and agreements.

What I meant more than "on request" bookings was that I find when I deal with the third tier OTAs (in my mind, first tier being direct booking, second being the big retail OTAs, and the third being those that sometimes offer below market rates, like you are trying to do) I find that often there is a fourth party involved. There is me, the hotel, the OTA, and the wholesaler. When I resort to third tier or fourth party OTAs (and I do that sometimes cause I travel a lot and realize you can save some money), frequently the OTA collects my money but the booking does not make it to the hotel for days, weeks or months-- or ever. I've had this happen to me over and over and if you read sites like TrustPilot you'll see it's the standard way of doing business for many if not most of the third tier OTAs. So typically what I will do if I really can't resist a deal is make a refundable booking, give it a few days, check with the hotel directly and if they don't have any record of the booking, I'll cancel because I know it will be a headache down the line.

So, let me reformulate my comments into a specific question: does HotelSlash (which is very different than AutoSlash, since the latter just refers you to another site for booking to make the commission but is not an actual OTA) provide third-party bookings via a direct link to the hotel --- or fourth-party bookings with an intermediary wholesaler (like Hotelbeds) involved?

Sorry for the tough questions but you pulled back the curtain a bit so I'd like to see what's behind it...
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 8:39 pm
  #38  
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Originally Posted by gil123
Appreciate the candid answer. Though to be clear, the free membership is not being offered specially to Flyertalkers. It says it right on your site that it's currently free to everyone and has $99 a year crossed off.
Well, yes and no. Sign out of your account (assuming you created one) and go to the homepage. Notice that it asks for an early access code to sign up. You can't really sign up without one, at least not if you just stumble over the site. The link I posted earlier bypasses that gate on the homepage. As I said, we're not officially open to the public just yet even though we've been taking bookings for over a year.

Originally Posted by gil123
Also in fairness I think the average FTer is not the average consumer- somewhat more informed, more aware of the competition, more willing to search, probably more price sensitive. You may find a small number of people in the general public willing to pay $99 a year (like TA Plus is trying to do) but you'd be hard pressed to find them here. Every time I find a deal on TA Plus, it indicates to me that wholesaler rates are out there and I am able to easily find it on free sites. I personally wouldn't pay a dime for "exclusive" deals. And there is a difference between "signup" and paid membership. I realize you need the former to bypass the hotel programs best rate guarantees and agreements.
Yes, absolutely. the average FTer is honestly not our core audience. That said, many FTers are influencers in their space and they also provide valuable feedback. For those "in the game" (ie. the miles and points junkies), we're probably a yawner. That's OK. It doesn't mean we won't still court them, or seek to win their hearts and minds, not to mention their business, but we're realistic about it.

I will say that even at AutoSlash, where FT members make up a tiny fraction of our user base, FT has been immensely helpful and supportive over the years and we are very appreciative of that. We try to give back to the community wherever and whenever we can--something we will continue to do as we ramp up HotelSlash.

Btw, TA Plus is effectively dead. There are still active members, but they are not accepting any new ones and we don't expect it to last much longer even for existing members. We expect it t eventually morph into a watered down (probably free) version of what it was originally intended.

Originally Posted by gil123
What I meant more than "on request" bookings was that I find when I deal with the third tier OTAs (in my mind, first tier being direct booking, second being the big retail OTAs, and the third being those that sometimes offer below market rates, like you are trying to do) I find that often there is a fourth party involved. There is me, the hotel, the OTA, and the wholesaler. When I resort to third tier or fourth party OTAs (and I do that sometimes cause I travel a lot and realize you can save some money), frequently the OTA collects my money but the booking does not make it to the hotel for days, weeks or months-- or ever. I've had this happen to me over and over and if you read sites like TrustPilot you'll see it's the standard way of doing business for many if not most of the third tier OTAs. So typically what I will do if I really can't resist a deal is make a refundable booking, give it a few days, check with the hotel directly and if they don't have any record of the booking, I'll cancel because I know it will be a headache down the line.
Understood. Without getting too far in the weeds, I will just say that every single booking made on our site is positive inventory, and that every single booking is re-confirmed directly with the hotel before the customer arrives for check-in. When we send the customer a voucher, it contains the hotel confirmation number, and while that number may not be available until closer to the check-in date, we guarantee every booking. I'm not disputing that some third-tier OTAs do not do business in an above-board manner, but I can assure you that we have taken great pains to ensure that our customers receive exactly the service they are promised. In fact, we have cut ties with more than one party recently because their service levels were not up to our standards. We set the bar high, because that's what our customer expect.

Originally Posted by gil123
So, let me reformulate my comments into a specific question: does HotelSlash (which is very different than AutoSlash, since the latter just refers you to another site for booking to make the commission but is not an actual OTA) provide third-party bookings via a direct link to the hotel --- or fourth-party bookings with an intermediary wholesaler (like Hotelbeds) involved?
First off, it's accurate that AutoSlash just refers you to another site for booking. A lot of bookings happen directly on AutoSlash these days, and that trend will continue as we evolve. Regardless, to your question, we have a variety of types of inventory so it's not a simple answer. In some cases, yes, we work with wholesalers, but it's never a fourth-party booking. We only work with parties that have direct relationships with the hotels. We don't have the scale quite yet to be a first party (or second if you consider the hotel first), but you can expect that over time, this is a likely scenario.[/QUOTE]

Originally Posted by gil123
Sorry for the tough questions but you pulled back the curtain a bit so I'd like to see what's behind it...
We're happy to engage here. Our model is based on honesty and transparency, so to the degree we can share details of our business that don't very into proprietary or confidential information, we're happy to share.
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Old Feb 28, 2023, 10:21 pm
  #39  
 
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My point exactly (about TA Plus failing and likely moving to free). Paid memberships for hotel OTAs don't seem to work as a business model. Most people won't pay for what they can get for free.

And I for one try to avoid the reseller sites (it really is fourth party since a wholesaler is involved instead of the OTA booking directly with the hotel) that promise only that you that you will get the confirmation "closer to the checkin date." That is absolutely not a real-time booking with the hotel. Any agency can say they "guarantee" the booking but until it's confirmed by the hotel and you have a confirmation number recognized by the hotel, it doesn't mean anything. You are saying every booking is "positive inventory" while also admitting in many cases you are using an intermediary wholesaler and the confirmation may not be available until a later date. So, you are taking payment upfront, contacting the wholesaler at some point and they in turn are hopefully contacting the hotel at some point and providing my name and an actual confirmation attached to a room on my dates, if available at that time. "Positive inventory" should mean the hotel is holding an actual room for me that I paid for from the moment I pay for it, end of story. Not that I have bought a room slot from a wholesaler inventory of discounted prices and that only later it will be actually reserved. Having a wholesaler or supplier as the intermediary just increases the chances of delays and problems. I've been burned or at least hassled by this exact scenario too many times to count.

Thanks for the transparency. I'll add this to the list of other similar options of last resort.

If you are looking for feedback, I'd suggest differentiating clearly on the site which deals are third party and which are fourth party (or "external supplier" or whatever you want to call it.) That might help people make informed decisions. I can usually figure it out based on the price in relation to the retail OTAs and chain's site but a lot of people don't know what they are getting.

Last edited by gil123; Mar 1, 2023 at 6:42 am
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Old Mar 1, 2023, 12:03 am
  #40  
 
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If I make a booking through hotelslash and in the event there is an issue at check in, how can I get in touch with customer support, do I have to send a message and wait for hours? I want to try this out but want to be aware of any pitfalls. Thanks.
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Old Mar 1, 2023, 1:47 am
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by PilgrimsProgress
If I make a booking through hotelslash and in the event there is an issue at check in, how can I get in touch with customer support, do I have to send a message and wait for hours? I want to try this out but want to be aware of any pitfalls. Thanks.
If the customer service is anything like the outstanding experience I've always had on AutoSlash, I wouldn't worry about them taking care of me. They will figure it out and 'make it right'.
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Old Mar 1, 2023, 6:50 am
  #42  
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Originally Posted by gil123
If you are looking for feedback, I'd suggest differentiating clearly on the site which deals are third party and which are fourth party (or "external supplier" or whatever you want to call it.) That might help people make informed decisions. I can usually figure it out based on the price in relation to the retail OTAs and chain's site but a lot of people don't know what they are getting.
Thanks for your thoughts. I will say that you can be assured that anything that is pay-later (pay to hotel) is what you are calling 3rd party inventory. We have quite a bit of that now. Prepaid deals could be either. We'll give some thought to additional transparency around that.
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Old Mar 1, 2023, 7:37 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by PilgrimsProgress
If I make a booking through hotelslash and in the event there is an issue at check in, how can I get in touch with customer support, do I have to send a message and wait for hours? I want to try this out but want to be aware of any pitfalls. Thanks.
In the extremely rare case that you have an issue at check-in, we have an emergency phone number listed on your hotel voucher to contact us.
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Old Mar 2, 2023, 5:24 am
  #44  
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
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Looking forward to see this growing.
First search results for IHG properties were pretty disappointing for me:

Same rate than rack rate
Public corporate codes are cheaper and even include breakfast
No benefits (free breakfast, lounge)
No points
No cashback
No rates shown directly

So for me it would need probably a 30-50% discount to make this work on a property that costs 100 per night.
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Old Mar 2, 2023, 11:56 am
  #45  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Yes I ran a couple of searches for upcoming trips (EU and Japan) and came up with same rates as elsewhere, mostly standard OTA rates, with a sprinkling of most likely fourth-party reseller rates as described above, also same as or higher than other such sites. Add to the list of "don't gets" above, no OTA benefits either (such as membership points or sometimes included perks/upgrades), no OTA coupon code discounts (those have decreased on other OTAs but some still out there) and also on top of that the idea that the general public will somehow pay for membership and I don't see much value here....yet. Also the web interface is slow and clunky, sometimes with confusing room descriptions (probably because they come from different suppliers), similar to other consolidator sites like Club 1. IMHO you guys need to up your game before going public. Drop the pretense of annual fees, add some extra value features, and work on your site design. Just sayin
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