Venere -- Not As Cheap As I Thought

Old Aug 27th, 2007, 01:32 AM
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Venere -- Not As Cheap As I Thought

I've not used Venere for a while, and I decided to give them a try. I discovered that for the two hotels I looked at, their rates are actually higher than what the hotel posted online. Of course I didn't check before because I wasn't expecting this based on my past experiences.

This is what happened. For Venice, for Hotel Mercurio, they quoted a canal side room for 190 euros and a regular double for 170 euros. I was interested in canal side, but when I went back (this was a few weeks ago), it was taken, so I booked the other one for 170 euros.

I checked the hotel's website today, and the quoted rates are 10 euros cheaper. I just called the hotel to book a canal side room, which they claim is the only available room, for 180 euros.

For Milan, I looked at Ariston. With a discount code I'm paying about 287 euros for 2 nights. Ariston's webpage quotes a rate of 139 rates a night for those dates though when I called there's no available. Perhaps if I had found out sooner it'd have been ok. Maybe I can try to send them an e-mail.

I guess I'll be more careful with Venere in the future. I always assumed they were competitive.

What are people's experiences?
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 02:52 AM
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IME there have been several times when a hotel was sold out of a particular type of room yet those (of the same type) which it has allocated to a discounter were still available.

Have you always just assumed that a discounter such as Venere was offering lower prices than the hotels themselves? Have you ever checked this in the past?
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 02:53 AM
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Which is cheaper, venere or direct with hotels? Both is possible. it really depends on the hotels and each case. You just have to compare before booking. Hotel Mercurio Venice, I always book (well 3 times so far) witht the hotel (Monica) direct. She usually confirm with " if you pay cash, we give you €10 discount". Isn't that what you got?

A Prague hotel I booked through venere last January. The first time was €49 (direct with the hotel was €55). Then two weeks before the check-in, I checked venere by chance again and surprise the price had gone down to €33 ! I cancelled the original booking and newly booked at the lower rate. No problem. venere's cancellation policy allows that (I don't like the sites such as Expedia that often require prepayment/payment-upon-reservation! I would not have been able to re-book if that was the case). So venere was finally much cheaper than direct booking. Since I was staying for 4 nights, the saving bought me a couple of dinners. I had the same experience for a Milano hotel last year. Hotel's site gave €95 while with vevere it was €75.

So venere is quite good in my mind BUT still I first try to book with the hotel itself. The rates may be better. Also I like having direct correspondence witht the hotels. Even when I book thru a site, I call the hotel at least once a few days later and a few day before arrival to re-confirm. If I have particular requests, I will tell them then.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 02:56 AM
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And there were times, the hotel required just the same price as venere.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 04:20 AM
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Yes, kappa, it was Monica. The e-mail quoted the 10 euro cash discount, but when I called, she quoted the discounted price without mentioning that I had to pay in cash. The web page quoted rates without mentioning the cash provision (but maybe it was too early in the morning and I missed something without my morning coffee).

To answer your question, Dukey, in the past when I used Venere, I've usually checked with the hotel, and I don't recall situations when Venere quoted a higher rate than the hotel. It was usually the same or better. And I remember distinctly once that I used it to book a hotel in Rome (Geo di Vulcano) and Venere showed availability but not the hotel. I even asked about it here.

Usually I'm careful to check these things, but I figured from past experience that I didn't have to do this with Venere. That was a mistake. I just got lazy because I've a lot of other things going on lately, plus I just went on another trip two weeks ago and I had to plan that one.

I just find it ironic that I went through the trouble to book Ariston with a 4% off discount code, and if I had done it directly with Ariston a few weeks ago I could have saved 7 euros even with the 4% discount code. Of course it's not a lot of money, but this is the kind of thing that annoys me.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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Yes, no one source always has the lowest price for every hotel every time. At a minimum, we always check venere.com, hrs.com, and the hotels themselves.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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For Italy, we have had our best luck with:
itwg.com

They do have specials (4th night free) if you get an off-season date. We found one in Venice and couldn't believe our luck. But it was in March!

Good luck.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 06:35 AM
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I'm curious if those of you who do find a better price from one of the "agencies" ever then check with the hotel to see if they will match or beat it? I always prefer making my arrangements directly with the hotel.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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I think I only tried to bargain once -- with a hotel in Seville, but I can't recall what the outcome was. Personally I dislike bargaining, so I'd just go with the lowest rate I can find online and check with the hotel (obviously in this case I assumed that Venere would match the hotel's rate, but this wasn't the case).

Personally I prefer to use booking engines for the obvious reason that I can compare multiple hotels all at once, and I tend to think that I've done this enough to know which engines to use for which countries -- for example, hotel.de for Germany, Venere for Italy -- that sort of thing.

Since usually I don't know which hotel I want to be at, I need to do some research online and booking engines are indispensable in that sense.

Of course you could argue that if I'm using the booking engine for research, then it deserves my business. But well, lots of things on the net are supposed to be free.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 06:57 AM
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I'm not one to normally bargain either. I detest asking if they can do "better" for example.

But emailing a hotel and saying that I was going to book on Venere for X amount, but "I'd prefer to do it direct, will you match that?" is quite a different thing, I think.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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That's true. Though my experience with hotels is sometimes they just don't answer their e-mails. And I tend to be pretty impatient, so I want an answer right away -- and it's easier to call then to e-mail, but then when you call, sometimes their command of English is not the best.

Anyway, I guess the point is I don't have unlimited time, so I guess I'll have to be content that I've done (nearly) the best I could have done. But now that I know this about Venere, I'll be more careful in the future, since it takes me at most 5 minutes to check with a hotel directly, and if I can save $10 that way, power to me!

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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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Ok, I've rebooked my room with Ariston directly online -- not sure why they claimed no availability when I phoned.

278 euros. Venere was 286 euros with 4% discount. So I saved 8 euros.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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About three times I've made a small effort to get the hotel to match the lower rate that I found on another site. In each case, they were unable to do that, giving one reason or another.

Having booked hotels in all sorts of ways by now, I don't notice much if any difference in how I am treated.

Hotel comparison sites can be quite useful for determining the booking site that lists the cheapest price for a hotel. Some examples:
kayak.com
hotelscomparison.com
travelaxe.com

None of these are perfect or comprehensive. Of course there's no way to be absolutely certain you've gotten the cheapest possible rate - at some point you have to give up.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Are you back, WillTravel? Welcome back.

More important, can you help with Last Supper? I had a more detailed message on the other board and also here as well. I figured that you read enough of these random websites and you know which one I can use for cheap and reliable tickets.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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Thanks - yes, I'm back. It was a *very* long travel day yesterday.

I'll take a look later at your Last Supper inquiry.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I hope that it was long because it was supposed to be long and not because there was a snafu.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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I always check web brokers and the hotels themselves. Sometimes the hotel will have the best price, sometimes they don't. I think it depends on how many rooms they have left.

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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 09:13 PM
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In my opinion, it's usually better to book directly with the hotel. It saves them from paying a commission to the online company, and it's better for the guest to feel that they have real contact with someone. Some online sites do advertise lower rates, which are special negotiated rates, but there's nothing to stop a hotel from lowering their own rates from time to time. Pays to shop.
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 09:33 PM
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Just a week ago, I booked a hotel over the phone in Dublin and got a rate of 169 euros. I was careful to ask if that was a senior rate and was told that it was. I was satisfied, but I happened to use the get a quote feature on Tripadvisor and found a rate of 149 euros, $20 less per night than what I was quoted over the phone. I called the hotel back, and sure enough, they managed to find a rate I could fit in at 150 per night.

One thing about using booking sites is that you have to be careful that they aren't going to charge your credit card immediately (hotels almost never do) and you have to check their cancellation policies carefully. There's seldom a free lunch in business, and a good rate on a booking site as opposed to a hotel may turn out not to be such a good rate after all.

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Old Aug 29th, 2007, 02:14 AM
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Keep in mind that some booking sites actually negotiate better cancellation policies than the hotels themselves. You really have to shop around and read the fine print everwhere.
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