TravelPony – Another tool in your Arsenal

Wednesday 19th, November 2014 / 08:40 Written by
TravelPony – Another tool in your Arsenal
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The Skinny

Thinking of Booking a Hotel? TravelPony could be a great option to investigate

  • TravelPony is an innovative booking engine
  • Discounts are similar to Hotwire or Priceline, but hotels are displayed before booking
  • Prices of other booking engines shown with the TravelPony price
  • Take advantage of coupons and referal bonuses to increase the discounts

Overview

TravelPony is a new and innovative booking engine that sometimes offers similar discounts in the price range that Hotwire or Priceline will price out at.

Over the past few trips, I have at least looked at Travelpony as an option to book hotels. In most instances, it has offered something competitive. I have ended up booking my hotel through TravelPony on multiple occasions.

While TravelPony might not be the best booking engine for every occasion, it is definitely something that we can keep in our toolbelt and check when it makes sense.

I think it makes the most sense in the following situations:

  • To check for a discount on a specific hotel
  • To find out which hotels are going to be the cheapest

Features of Travelpony

Travelpony is about showing how their prices are the best. They really want to win on price, and don’t spend energy on marketing or bundling. To that end, they have a few features:

  • Large discounts off specific hotels
  • Display competing rates from a few different booking engines
  • The “Pony” promise – They ask you to inform your friends about the great deal you got so they don’t need to spend money on marketing

Discounts on Hotel Prices

The main reason I look at booking a hotel at TravelPony is because the price might be the best. What I especially like is the large discounts that they offer.

As I have mentioned in my guides on Priceline, Hotwire and Hotels.com, I always aim for the lowest price. Priceline and Hotwire offer big discounts to the user for an opaque booking service. They don’t tell you the name of the hotel until after you have made a non-refundable reservation with them. If you are unhappy with the hotel they have reserved for you, then you are stuck.

TravelPony is much more transparent than either Priceline or Hotwire and looks much more like an Expedia or Hotels.com. The difference being that the discount that TravelPony is offering is highly displayed along with the price of that same reservation, were it made at various other booking engines.

I took an example of booking a hotel in Toronto in December. It appears that the Pantages hotel is the most discounted. Clicking through, I get a total price of C$175, using the suggested coupon codes of WINTER and TPSAVINGS. If I was actively looking to stay at the Pantages, then this would be a great place to book this hotel and save the 35% over what I would have paid anyways.

Let’s compare this to what Hotels.com has to say about this particular hotel. TravelPony claims that Hotels.com’s rate is C$280+tax for this night.

I wanted to check that this was correct and in this case, it is true. That is at least 1 data point that shows that the comparison of different booking engines is actually correct.

Flexible Bookings

Let’s assume that instead of looking for a particular hotel, I am interested in booking any “upscale” hotel in Toronto on Dec 12. I am want to be able to cancel my booking and know the hotel before committing, so Hotwire and Priceline are not options in this case.

In this situation, TravelPony suggested the Pantages as the best value. However, heading over to Hotels.com, I see there are a few different options that are definitely going to work for me. The Eaton Chelsea hotel and even the Fairmont Royal York are both coming in competitive to the Pantages on this evening. Hotels.com shows us a few more options that might or might not work for less.

In this case, it is important that you investigate multiple booking engines.

Opaque Booking vs Priceline and Hotwire

One thing to consider is wether this is the best engine to use when you really don’t care where you stay. In my guides, I comment on Hotwire and Priceline as the best place to book if you are indifferent on hotel. It is a well known problem that hotels sometimes impose “premium resort fees” on some Priceline and Hotwire bookings. This combined with the non-refundability of those bookings makes these options less desirable than they otherwise might be.

In our example hotel in Toronto, I checked Hotwire to see what rate they were suggesting for a 4 star hotel in Downtown Toronto. Hotwire suggested a 4 star hotel for C$103 + taxes for a total of C$145 (which includes the Resort Fee at the hotel).

From this we can see that if we were to be a little more flexible and take a non-refundable, opaque booking, we could end up saving a decent amount of money in this case.

Coupons

Something to note is that the hotel room discount will be given to you contingent on you putting in a coupon code. Usually it is TPSAVINGS, but sometimes they have additional discounts of 5% and 10%. In my experience, I have found that the “additional” savings coupons tend to not really provide any value. This would be the 5% coupon WINTER that was in the above example.

In my experience, the additional coupons (WINTER in this case) generally don’t add additional value. For the example above, we saw the 5% WINTER coupon code and 35% TPSAVINGS coupon code. My experience has been that on a day when WINTER is not valid, the TPSAVINGS code would be at 40% discount for this hotel. This might or might not be the truth but in my viewing, it appears to be the case.

There is a limit of 2 coupon codes allowed per transaction. TPSAVINGS would be 1 that you would want to use, and when there is an “additional” savings coupon, you will want to use that. You would then be out of coupons that you can apply to this particular transaction. Most of the time, this won’t pose a problem for you unless you have additional coupons that you would like to use.

Referal codes often provide additional coupons.

Referal Programs

One of the great things about TravelPony right now is that there are readily available coupons. When you sign up through this link (my referal link), then you will receive a $35 off $200 coupon that you can use on any hotel room. I was given REFERAL35, but you can check your own.

As I mentioned above, you will be limited to 2 coupons, so you will want to try to use these on a day when there is no “additional” savings coupon code available. In my experience, on those days, the entire discount is captured in the TPSAVINGS coupon code. On these days, you will be able to get the entire discount for TPSAVINGS and use the REFERAL35 promotion code to further reduce your cost.

Our Hotel Booking in Toronto

Back to our example, we were looking at a 1 night stay in Quebec and that was going to run us C$175 at the Pantages hotel. Combining the $35 off $200 coupon code, we save an additional $35, lowering the price to C$148, which is now much better and competitive with the Hotwire booking.

Refer a Friend

The link that I posted above is my refer-a-friend link. Using this link (or any other refer a friend link) will get you this coupon. If you use my link, I do appreciate it as I will receive a $25 discount on a future hotel room. Once you have your account set up, then you can also refer friends for the $25 credit. Assuming you get the same promotion that I am receiving for referring friends, your friends will also receive the $35 off $200 REFERRAL35 coupon code in their account.

These $25 referal credits that I will receive if you use my link are not considered coupons so they do stack and are treated like a payment towards the hotel room.

Examples of Hotel Savings

Here are a few examples of what I was able to find through TravelPony.

Quebec City – 1 week out

TPSAVINGS of 20%

Banff – Christmas Week

TPSAVINGS of 15% – 25%

Hawaii – Week in February

TPSAVINGS of 20% – 25%

Milan (Europe) – Weekend in April

TPSAVINGS of 30% – 35%

Bangkok – Weekend in April

TPSAVINGS of 20% – 30%

Montreal – May Long Weekend

TPSAVINGS of 25% – 30%

Summary

TravelPony can be a very valuable resource. You can get great savings if you have to stay at a specific hotel and it happens to be one of the hotels they are promoting. It can also be a great way to book a hotel at a lower price without any of the gotchas! that might exist with a Priceline or Hotwire booking.

You can also exploit the referral benefits by referring your friends. Each of you will get some value out of it, which you can exploit.

Watch out for the limit on the number of coupons.

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