Not long ago I was standing at the check-in counter of a hotel where I thought I had a reservation. Unfortunately, someone – quite likely me – had messed up and the hotel didn’t have my reservation.
Not a problem, the woman told me, they had rooms. She gave me a quote but it seemed high. After all, this was a last minute inquiry so I was going to get the rack rate. I asked two questions. First, “Can’t you do better?” The answer was no. My second question was, “Do you have wi-fi in the lobby.” The answer to that one was yes.
I sat down with my iPhone, fired up the hotel chain’s app and booked online for a lower rate. I returned to the counter, the woman found my new reservation and we were all happy.
Hotel apps let traveler’s take control of the situation. There are apps from the hotels themselves as well as apps powered by third party services such as Expedia and Hotels.com. Here are 5 great hotel apps you need to have whether you’re a road warrior or an occasional traveler.
1. Choice Hotels. This app is actually the star of the little story I told to introduce this topic. This chain has more than 6,000 hotels worldwide. A quick search finds no fewer than 16 Choice hotels in the Myrtle Beach area. Visitors to this area could use the app the compare features of the various Choice hotel brands in Myrtle Beach as they’re selecting. As with many of these apps, it uses your phone’s GPS features to find hotels in your location. Also, it ties into your Choice Privileges account. Andriod and iOS versions are available.
2. HotelsByMe. This app is an affiliate of Hotels.com and Expedia so you aren’t limited to just one hotel chain. It boasts an inventory of more than 100,000 hotels world wide. As with the Choice Hotels app, it uses GPS to determine your location and present you with hotel options. As a comparison, I again searched for Myrtle Beach hotels and was rewarded with a list of 60 properties, some as inexpensive as the Myrtle Beach La Quinta, which came in at less than $60 a night, to the Shore Crest Vacation Villas in North Myrtle Beach which will cost visitors about $250 a night. Palm, iOS and Android apps are available.
3. Hotel Tonight. This app is carving out a niche for itself by offering deeply discounted rooms when travelers book at the last minute. They boast up to 70 percent off standard hotel rates. Users get up to three deals each night in the cities covered. Hotel Tonight started out covering about 30 major cities and more than 10 airports, but they are adding more cities all the time. If you have some flexibility and really want to hold down travel costs, you need to have this one. There are both Android and iOS apps.
4. Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. I’m going in the opposite direction with this app. While the first three apps I described give you information on a huge number of hotels, with this app you get the skinny on only two: The Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin resorts. However, developed by hotel program students at Florida State University, this app is a rich digital brochure for both resorts. It includes videos, photos, restaurant information, lists of activities, maps and the means to contact the resorts. iOS.
5. Starwood Hotels and Resorts. As we round out our list, we’ll stay on the upscale side but check in with a company that offers more than 890 places to stay around the world. The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) app gives travelers access to their accounts; upcoming stay information, including maps to hotels; the ability to make reservations; access to global customer support; and updates on travel trends. Getting back to our Myrtle Beach benchmark for comparisons, the APG app offers two excellent properties including one just across the street from Broadway at the Beach, one of the most popular shopping, dining and nightlife spots in the entire Myrtle Beach area. iOS.
Each of these 5 great hotel apps deserves a test drive. I’m confident that as you explore their features you’ll find a couple that dovetail well with your travel habits.
Jessie Adams writes on a variety of travel topics ranging from golf courses to myrtle beach oceanfront hotels, and stretching from California to South Carolina.