“How can you afford to travel so much?” I am asked this question on a regular basis. The point I always make when people ask me is that I travel wisely, and with the same budget that the average traveler may use to go on a one week holiday in Belize, I may spend a full month (or more!) exploring India. I sleep in budget guest houses, share dorms with a number of other backpackers, eat street food (which to be fair is delicious and in places like Bangkok is the best option anyways!) and simply pay attention on how I spend my money.
Of course, Belize and India are not even comparable. But, as I always say, until I have a budget that allows me to splurge on luxury in a country that is known to be expensive, I may as well continue exploring those places where my dollar goes a long way.
At least, that’s the way it used to be. Lately, I have upgraded to better places – boutique hotels, a few luxury ones here and there. Just a bit of a treat whenever I can. I remain a backpacker at heart (though a bit of an unsuccessful backpacker, as I like to say), but I do enjoy having a beautiful, big room with a gorgeous view and a pool all to myself. No, I haven’t become rich yet – though I wish I did. But I have found out a great way to save big $$$ on hotels.
Read on, because I am going to spill the secret. After all, I really am a nice girl and I want everyone to travel more and have a good time.
Here’s what I recently discovered: there is a search engine called Sears Vacations that can be used much like other websites to book hotels, cars, resorts, tours and flights. Not much news here. However, through Sears Vacation, I can get a room at any hotel for a price that is up to 39% cheaper than the market price. Yes, I did say 39%. Even I could not believe my eyes when I saw it. Sears Vacations had indeed contacted me, explaining how through their free hotel search engine I could get prices that would be much lower than those advertised by other sites. They invited me to try out their service, and I was up for the challenge.
This is how it went – briefly
Like most people, the first thing I do when looking for a hotel is heading straight to the most famous search engines. I feel comfortable navigating them, and I like to think that they care about their loyal customers (aka me), and will help me get me the cheapest possible deal.
What I found out, however, is that these engines rarely do give the lowest possible price. Good thing that Sears Vacation challenged me to use their site, because I have now learned that if I look around, I can get insiders’ deals and discounts so that my hotel room will cost much less than any advertised rate.
I tested Sears Vacation thinking of a holiday very much need. I have been looking for a room in Bali anyways, so I thought I may as well see if I could find a good deal. I started browsing the website, and as it turns out I could find a place in Bali. I am glad to announce that Sears does indeed have the best prices around.
So I recommend anybody who’s traveling but want to keep an eye on their budget to consider checking out Sears Vacations free member pricing.
Going into a bit more details
The first thing I needed to do in order to find cheap hotel deals was signing up for Sears free membership. Before doing that, I browsed the website looking for a hotel room and the prices I got where more or less the same as those of other hotel search engines. It was when I signed up that a world of cheaper deals opened up in front of my eyes.
After signing up, I got immediate access to Insider Pricing. There was also a bonus of $100 USD in savings credit that was immediately added to my account. I could use this savings credit to redeem Insider Pricing rates.
Here’s how I have used Sears Vacations
As I have said, I am thinking of going back to Bali, and I would like to stay somewhere nice and quiet to get myself pampered. A few friends mentioned a place called Transera in Seminyak, where I’d like to be based as it is significantly quieter than the rest of the island. The hotel they recommended looks amazing – I would have a villa to myself, with a private pool: just what I need. But – from what I have seen on the most known hotels search engines, it is more expensive than I can afford.
So I looked for it on Sears Vacation. I must say, the user experience was very friendly – there’s really no difference between that and any other hotels search engines. Lots of hotels came up, including the one I was hoping for. I found a room there that is $400 USD cheaper than what was advertised on another site I looked at. It was whopping 67% saving. Now, I am known to be bad at math, so I even asked my dad to help me out with the calculations. It really was 67% less.
So here’s what I saw when looking for the room on Hotels.com website.
The final price was this.
And this what I got through Sears Vacations.
With this as the final price.
There is a considerable saving for the exact same room.
Out of curiosity, I also compared the prices of other hotels. Here’s the price I found for the L Hotel Seminyak on Hotels.com
And this is the price for the exact same room on Sears Vacation.
In this case the savings are of $113.43 USD – not as much as in the case of the Transera, but still significant.
How is this possible, and how can a member accumulate Savings Credits?
The way that Sears Vacation hotel system works is that when someone performs a search, Sears Vacation gathers all the relevant properties, then it does a real time search of the lowest online prices for those properties. Other sites like Hotels.com use the highest available online rate as their Market Rate, then add a discount to them, whereas Sears Vacations uses the lowest rate rather than the Market Rate.
It then makes that lowest identified price the “Market Price” in its system, and sets up the opportunity to redeem the Savings Credits as a discount off of that already identified lowest rate.
First of all, as soon as one signs up, he’ll receive $100 in credit. The newsletter that Sears Vacation regularly sends out also highlights opportunities to gain more savings credits. And the bonus which once again differentiate Sears Vacations from other membership sites is that the credits can be redeemed anywhere in the world.
Another tip to accumulate travel Savings Credits for members who are traveling it so book the airline tickets via Sears Vacations first (at the same prices available on other search engines), so that they earn additional credits which they can use to get significantly cheaper hotel deals.
Unfortunately the credit savings can’t be redeemed on flights, but for any airline ticket or car rental booked through Sears Vacations members earn Travel Savings Credit to use on hotels, resorts, cruises and tours, and in case another engine shows a cheaper price, Sears Vacations promises a best price match guarantee.
This means that if I ever find a lower price on another booking engine, Sears Vacation will honor that lower price – this way I know for sure I am always going to get the lowest price possible. This is valid before or up to 24-hours after I make a booking, as long as the room and services are the same (so for example the price on Sears Vacation may be higher but there is breakfast included while the engine with the lower price didn’t include it, then Sears Vacation won’t match the price). In order to get the best price match all I’d have to do is call customer service.
Useful things to consider when using Sears Vacation booking platform
One thing to be wary about is that some booking platforms say that the price of a room found on their site is final, but then add tax on later. Sears Vacations does add a tax on after showing the savings, which is the same thing that all other booking sites do. This means that the savings is the same even after the taxes are added.
When looking for a room on Sears Vacation, I could find a lot of information about it. There are pictures, reviews, etc. I still looked for the reviews on Trip Advisor (although my advice is to take these reviews with a pinch of salt), because I noticed that Sears Vacations only publishes three per place (and they are all pulled from Trip Advisor). I didn’t mind this anyways, as it is something I always do, even when looking for a room on any other booking engine.
Once I found the deal I wanted, I just had to head over checkout, fill in the billing information, and then I was ready to book my room.
On Sears Vacations, I can also check how much savings credits I have, when they expire, and I can check the status of my reservations.
The customer service of Sears Vacations is super helpful. They are available to help customers via Twitter (super handy for people like me who may not always have access to a phone) or also have a direct line for customers.
I am super excited to use my Savings Credits to look for boutique hotels and resorts whenever I travel. I recommend signing up for membership to anybody who has a trip coming up soon, and even if this is not the case as really, one never knows – so that the $100 Savings Credit are added and can be used to score a fabulous hotel at a better price than that available on other engines.
What are your favorite resources to find good hotel deals or free insider pricing? Have you already signed up for Sears Vacation, and have you found any fabulous deal? Let us know in the comments below!
This article is written in partnership with Sears Vacations.