Why “pricebreaker” travel deals are not always worth it

BRAZIL - 2021/08/10: In this photo illustration, the Expedia logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2021/08/10: In this photo illustration, the Expedia logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Travel companies such as Expedia and Priceline will sometimes offer quick deals for hotels around the country but are these travel deals worth it?

To answer this question we have to dive a little deep into what you are getting for your money. Is the value there? Is the value there…for you? Each person/s have their own idea of what value is and it is often quite different person to person.

I tend to lean more on the cheaper side of hotel stays whereas my brother sees no problem shelling out $200 or $300 a night for a room. That brings me to these quick booking deals. Priceline offers a “Price Breaker” deal. One low price that guarantees you one of three hotels in the area that you are booking. For the purpose of this article I jumped over on Priceline to get an idea of what would be available for four nights next week around Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Three hotels popped up as potential bookings. Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort, Westgate Town Center Resort, and Melia Orlando Celebration. The website lists the normal nightly rates at $156, $106, and $151 respectively. Priceline’s deal is giving one of them to you for $77.00 a night. Obviously, that is HUGE but there is a catch almost 99% of the time.

First, you have to agree to book at that price and only after you have booked will the hotel be revealed to you. That honestly is not a big deal. The hotels that are listed, and they vary quite often, are typically nice and while you may tend to think they will set you up with the cheaper of the three, that too isn’t always the case.

That’s the good news. You really can land a quality hotel and I have even been able to land one of the very popular Swan or Dolphin hotel near EPCOT.

I have used this service several times on different sites and they all tend to be the same. The property is typically decent to exceptional but there is no guarantee. Once you book, you can’t change it and in most cases unless you purchase protection, you can’t cancel it either.

The worst part about all these is the hidden costs that you find out about in two ways.

First, you actually read all the fine print before you book and second, you fail to read the finer print and find out when you get to the hotel.

My wife and I “won” four nights at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. It was one of our three and we couldn’t believe we got this grand hotel right on Disney property for less than $100.00 per night. When we arrived for check-in, our experience quickly changed.

We were told that there is a “resort fee” that is paid daily and ran us about $45.00 per day. We were told that there was no “free” parking for guests and that we had to park in the garage which wasn’t adjacent to the hotel directly. That was not only $30.00 per day but we were billed $30.00 to the room each time we drove out of the parking garage and pulled back in. All in all, our four night stay that we thought was around $400.00 plus tax, cost us $700.00.

Similarly, I took a trip to the area with one of my kids to do a special passholder event at Hollywood Studios. I booked with this same feature for a hotel that was supposed to cost $58.00 a night. We paid the $58, then paid an additional $50.00 resort fee and a mandatory parking fee of $45.00 regardless of whether or not we had a car. In addition, we had to sign a waiver stating that the hotel would not be responsible for any break-in or vehicle damage. The hotel stay was probably worth about $60.00 max and was in a horrible location.

Next. The Stadium Hotel in Miami Gardens. dark

So do they ever work out they way you want them to? Absolutely. Sometimes you get lucky. I was able to book Disney Animation Resort for $95.00 a night, typically over $200.00 a night with additional parking charges of $25.00 a day. That was a great stay and worked out well.

These offers can be great and save you money but don’t go into them blind because you may not be thrilled with the results.