Needs some tips for stretching your vacation budget to go further? This week we chat with dad and tech entrepreneur Nate Ritter, from RoomSteals and learn some new tricks for finding hotel deals.
About Nate Ritter
Nate is a travel expert, who first got started in 2007 when he was able to fly & stay in Paris for $300 (accommodation included). This first experience sparked his interest in all things travel hacking through miles/points/finding deals, etc.
Most recently, he founded RoomSteals, which is a chrome extension that lets you see wholesale hotel rates before booking. Most companies, like Expedia and Booking, make money by marking up the hotel price or getting a commission (between 7-18%). They don’t add margin or take commission, so the prices are at the rock bottom.
Tips for Finding Hotel Deals
- One way to get cheap accommodations is to look for new home exchange start ups and sign up with them. Often they will offer points or credits just for listing your house, even if you don’t want to actually swap your house. Sometimes those points are enough to get a free stay.
- One option is Love Home Swap which was later bought by HomeExchange.com.
- Hotels have wholesale inventory that they offer to online travel agencies but those prices aren’t usually available to the public.
- RoomSteals allows anyone to become a member and lets you see those wholesale rates.
- RoomSteals is a Chrome browser extension that shows these secret deals once you are logged in and looking at hotel rates on Booking.com, Expedia, Travelocity, etc.
- You don’t need to be a paid member to log in and see the wholesale rates but once you see the rates and want to book, you need a paid membership to RoomSteals.com.
- RoomSteals doesn’t make a commission or transaction fee on bookings, only on a subscription of $59 per year (currently).
- Members often save enough on one trip to cover the cost of the annual membership.
- RoomSteals.com will show you the cheapest rate at that hotel, which may not be the exact room configuration that you are looking for. But you can compare once you look at RoomSteals booking engine and you can always select the room configuration that you want even if the price is slightly different.
- Members are saving an average of 25% across an entire year of bookings.
- You typically do not use points when you book wholesale rates, but you can always call the hotel in advance or give your number at check in to see if you can still get credit for your stay.
- Also look closely at the rate as often it is non-refundable or does not have some of the amenities like free breakfast or such.
- It is hard to find wholesale rates during peak travel seasons. It is easier to find rates when there is a bit of a lull in the market.
- Discounts can be as drastic as $300 for a $3000 penthouse suite.
- It often helps to call and talk to someone personally in advance as you will be more apt to get upgraded or special perks if you form a personal connection.
- Use coupon code VacationMavens to receive 20% off an annual membership to RoomSteals.com.
Save this on Pinterest
Read the Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.000] – Kim Tate
Today we’re talking about how to score a steal of a deal on your next hotel.
[00:00:16.200] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens, the family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Hosts Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:30.700] – Kim Tate
Well Tamara, when this episode airs you are going to be on the road off on an adventure with a teenager. So maybe we could talk before we start chatting about hotels. Let’s talk a little bit about road trips road trip planning and in anything useful you think our listeners would like to know if there might be helpful for them cuz I have a feeling road trips are going to be pretty popular this spring break.
[00:00:53.300] – Tamara Gruber
We have done a lot of road trips and so this isn’t our first rodeo as they say but this is time Glenn is coming along too. So I don’t know if it will make it harder or or what, but it is a massive road trip. Like I’m almost embarrassed to tell people because they are like where you going and I said, well we’re going to go look at colleges and they think that we’re just going around the New England area and we have enough colleges here but we’re actually making our way all the way out to Colorado, so I can’t even imagine how many miles we are going to put on the car. Glenn asked if you want to bring the Tesla and I was like no way because I know that while its a great car, but we just don’t want to have to like sit and charge all the time and she likes more space or whatever.
[00:01:45.500] – Tamara Gruber
Well by the time you hear this we will be I don’t even know what state will be in like, Michigan or Wisconsin I think maybe Ohio but we are we’re heading through Pennsylvania and looking at schools in Pennsylvania then we are going to Cleveland. We’re going to Ann Arbor, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin, we’re going to go and stop a night in Nebraska and then make our way to Colorado and then we’re going to spend a few nights.
[00:02:08.900] – Tamara Gruber
Then I set up a stay at a ranch which is going to be our relaxation portion of our trip and then book it all the way back to the east coast. Of course. We are stopping a couple of nights along the way because it is a lot of driving we get back and then we need a quarantine for a week and I’ll be so happy to not have to drive Hannah to school. Our car is going to need another service by the time we get back.
[00:02:36.900] – Kim Tate
I’m sure it will be like when we did that Maine trip kind and I assume you’re driving the Volvo then? It served us well it’s going to tag along again
[00:02:48.400] – Tamara Gruber
Hey it went down to Florida and back in the summer. So, you know, it’s got a lot of miles but yeah, it took I mean for us to this trip was really it was all about, you know, seeing colleges. We feel like there’s quite a few to see she’s interested in ones kind of all across the country. Even if we wanted to fly to them. We don’t we have to be like hopping onto planes here and there if we really can’t travel at all during school because of the quarantine requirements and so luckily the spring break works out where she is on a hybrid week when we get back. And so when we get back we can quarantine so do her virtual learning. The rules here are you have to test after 5 days quarantine for 7 and then she has to test again before she goes into school. So it all works out. You know, it’s great. It’s an opportunity for us to look at quite a few schools and hopefully we’ll get a few more in over the summer and then she can decide where she wants to apply and if she wants to do early decision or any of those kind of things cuz fall’s just crazy cuz we have soccer which is a very time-consuming thing and then she’ll be you know, in her new classes and working on an application.
[00:03:57.400] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s really not ideal time to go look at schools unless they’re local and then of course you could wait until after you get acceptances or whatever, but I think she would like to just narrow down where she would like to apply so it’ll be good, you know, obviously there’s no tours happening, but it’s just about going and like walking the campuses seeing the surrounding areas are some of them have a self-guided walking like Maps or apps are things that you can use. So yeah so are our route was very much dictated by okay, which schools are on her potential list that we could kind of wrap into this trip and how many hours in between and how much like when are we going to get there while we have at least like half a day to spend, you know in this area before we move on and the timing was very much dictated by that like, okay, we’ve got a six-hour drive. We’re going to get in here at night and then leave the next morning and and then in the afternoon, we’ll head to the next place or something like that. So it’s it’s very it’s like it’s not a relaxing trip.
[00:04:59.100] – Kim Tate
That sounds like it’s a little different cuz I don’t know. You have planned a lot of road trips and so have we. Do you have a plan of how far each day you want to drive and I know it makes a difference with that where you’re saying you’re more about getting to the destination. But you know for us we’re headed out on a road trip down along the coast and so we’re going to make Scenic stops. Like we want to be able to pull out and you know it admire the scenery take some photos. There’s stops along the way. So do you guys have a plan normally when you’re planning a road trip like we don’t do more than this many hours per day.
[00:05:34.300] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I’m going to try to stick to that just cuz I know how exhausting it can be. We definitely are driving down to Florida and 21 hours with you know, something that we’re not eager to do again, but we try to stick to somewhere between like a 7 to 9 hours a day and we have a couple of those are going to have to drive from Wisconsin to Colorado. I think it would be like a 14-hour drive in this just like a little too much.
[00:05:59.600] – Tamara Gruber
So we’re stopping in Nebraska like along the way to break that up and then when we come back we’re going from Steamboat Springs in Colorado, which is kind of in the central Colorado and then we not like Center but like it’s it’s not on the Eastern edge of Colorado. I guess I should say and then we’re going to drive like I was debating. Can we make it to Kansas City? Can you do should we try to push all the way to you know, Saint Louis like how far do we go? And we did we decided you know, what we’re going to push for like, I think it’s an 11-hour day that day and get somewhere in Kansas and then go to St.
[00:06:41.400] – Tamara Gruber
Louis the next day and then St Louis to Columbus and then Columbus home is going to be like a 12-hour day, but it was one of those things where it’s like well at the time with Pennsylvania or New York, you’ve had quarantine or testing requirements. So I’m like, well, we can’t stop Pennsylvania or New York overnight. So we kind of have to just push through that last leg. So I think again with everything like with covid it’s not always what we typically do is.
[00:07:09.200] – Tamara Gruber
We have to do so, you know sometimes right now but I would say generally we try to stick to like a 7 to 9 hour driving day because you know, I mean if it’s not much driving, obviously you stop to go to the bathroom. You stop to pick up some food, you know, so it becomes a lot longer.
[00:07:25.600] – Kim Tate
When we’re planning our road trips. Like when we go out to Canada to visit family where it’s more like we’re just taking a little time on the road and get into Canada.
[00:07:35.800] – Kim Tate
Then we’re normally around that 7 to 9 hour mark is what we would actually works out to almost 7 hours one day and nine hours the next almost perfectly good spot. But when I’m doing scenic driving I try and keep it around the 3-5 hour mark and that’s even last time when we did our California coast trip. I planned on 5 hour days and that was way too much we missed out on so many things and we are getting in to these beautiful destinations at night so late where you didn’t even see the ocean and you missed the California sunsets you were having dinner at 8 at night and so for me when I’m doing like a Scenic Drive, I try and keep it around that 3 to definitely no more than five hours. But the three two three four hour is kind of in my opinion a sweet spot for us a Scenic nice vacation drives that makes sense that money,
[00:08:33.500] – Tamara Gruber
especially something like the California coast. Because there are so so many places to stop. I know we just drove like Carmel to Cambria and that drive there is so many places to stop like just yeah, you think you think that you’re going to make it by like you said that you end up spending way more time than you think so, I think that’s really very smart. There is definitely a difference between a we’re driving to get there and we’re driving to enjoy our drive.
[00:09:04.200] – Kim Tate
Yeah, and I think that’s what people maybe don’t always consider and think about enough and also just how many days you are going to be at it like the fact that you guys are seasoned roadtrippers. So, you know what that feels like what I mean for people who aren’t used to it the leg cramp sciatica back. I mean it it gets exhausting. And so if you’re pushing a seven and nine hour days for 3-4 days in a row, you’re you’re not going to be happy and you’re not going to have I mean, I don’t know if you’re not going to have a good vacation.
[00:09:32.300] – Tamara Gruber
That’s what I’m a little bit worried about Glenn cuz he has not done many of the road trips with us at all. You know. What were we certainly drive to New York the New York-New Jersey area all the time, but that can be like me anywhere from 4 hours till like seven hours depending on traffic. But yeah, so it’ll be interesting and that’s why I tried to make sure we didn’t have too many back-to-back long drives, you know, like the super long like, okay, let’s like I think when we are doing that last home, it’ll be like, we just want to get home like you have that anyway, yes, so I think that’ll be a motivator to us and I didn’t want to have too many of those long days. And if I did have a really long day like when we have like a 10-hour day and the next day is only like a 4-Hour day and then we’re going to spend some time in St. Louis. You know, I went to the top of the arch.
[00:10:22.200] – Kim Tate
I want to say that that Arch I have been there. I was there when I was a little kid and then recently again later in life. I remember being told to go up to the windows when you’re at the top when you get out in a little room and 2 lean like you put your feet against it and lean into the window that do not have Glenn do that. It is just freakiest feeling I’ve ever experienced you actually I don’t know if it’s something about the way the windows are cut you feel like you’re falling like you feel like the arch is falling like it’s moving. Yeah, but a very weird sensation.
[00:11:09.000] – Tamara Gruber
I did go out in the Sears Tower or whatever. It’s called now in Chicago where they have those like box that like go out and I did do that. It took me a minute, but actually it was easier. If I like sat down on it then when I was standing in it, I don’t know why but it just felt like more secure but they have all of those kind of things now where it’s like the Tilt out, you know where you are like cleaning? Hannah will do it.
[00:11:36.800] – Kim Tate
I’m sure you are going to have a great time and I’m looking forward to following along and it’ll be fun to hear. You know, what Hannah thought and what you guys experienced on the college visits on our upcoming road trip. We are swinging through to a UC Berkeley which is on Lizzy’s list. And so we’ll see what that campus looks like. Again, it’s California, so there’s not any open. We’re just going to swing through there and.
[00:12:09.100] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, well, we have to let me know cuz that’s definitely maybe one that we would get to in the summer as well. And I just I hear that that’s a very beautiful campus and it yeah, you know, a lot of these campuses that are not closed campuses like you do residents and everyone kind of walks through them. Anyway. Just can’t go into buildings .
[00:12:25.300] – Kim Tate
Yeah we will see, I mean she cannot afford UC Berkeley but luckily it’s not her first. It’s not her absolute first choice, but it’s definitely on her list, so.
[00:12:38.000] – Kim Tate
Well, let’s talk to Nate because we’re going to go from talking about planning our drives to learning about maybe some little tricks to getting a great deal and all those hotels that we have to stay at along the way
[00:12:49.500] – Tamara Gruber
which is certainly helpful so let’s talk to Nate.
[00:12:58.600] – Tamara Gruber
We’re here with me Twitter. Nate is a travel expert who got started in 2007 when he was able to fly and stay in Paris for $300 and his first experience sparked his interest in all things travel hacking through miles points and finding deals most recently. He founded rooms deals, which is a Chrome extension that lets you see wholesale rates before booking and today he lives in San Diego with his family. So welcome Nate!
[00:13:22.700] – Nate Ritter
Thanks for having me!
[00:13:24.700] – Tamara Gruber
I’m a little jealous of the sunny San Diego and I’m here in the cold snowy Northeast. But you know, it’s okay one day I’ll get to travel those places again.
[00:13:34.700] – Nate Ritter
We have I please have our crosses to bear right buyers. So you have cold.
[00:13:40.600] – Tamara Gruber
So I thought it’d be nice to get a little bit of your backstory. Maybe can tell us like how you got started. Obviously that trip to Paris was pretty influential. Can you tell us a little bit about how you managed that and what where that has led since.
[00:13:58.700] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, absolutely I just love the travel hacking was by the way your second podcast with DF and then he had another one recently right with Lynn. These are fantastic podcast. So I’m happy to be here on that. Yeah, so flying to Paris for a couple hundred dollars round trip, and we stayed we actually stayed there for a month with free accommodations as well. So we the only thing we really spent there was on food in dinner entertainment or whatever we did when we went out.
[00:14:26.500] – Nate Ritter
So it was pretty fantastic to be able to do that and you know it all credit to the person who taught me how to do it originally travel hacks in a couple years earlier that was it has changed our lives as a family for sure. So we we paid our first we paid for our first flight and hotel in about 10 years recently. So we’ve got to go get a couple we used to take an international trip every year or every other year and then about 5 or so domestic trips in the alternate year. I’m all for free.
[00:14:58.700] – Nate Ritter
Or almost-free would sometimes we have to pay taxes, but one of the bigger than a fun times we had was when we rented out our house for the weekend in San Diego. Comic-Con was a big event and we didn’t didn’t realize it until we rented it and then realized oh, this is a big event day and can somebody snapped it up so fast we can just we actually ended up backing it out cuz we were like nevermind so we backed it up and then we put it up and we used points to stay at a hotel for that weekend.
[00:15:31.800] – Nate Ritter
And so we went to hotel with a pool for the kids and the kitchen and all this kind of thing and we came back with $1,000 more than when we left. So that was our favorite favorite kind of moments the other than the Paris one.
[00:15:44.500] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah, that’s another advantage of living in a place like, San Diego.
[00:15:58.600] – Kim Tate
You said someone gave you a tip to get you started, what was that?
[00:16:01.200] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, I think the travel hacking part of it that first step was when somebody had told me and I think I’m going to I can’t remember exactly where they said they were going to say Amsterdam perhaps but they said they were going and they were only spending a couple hundred dollars. I never got to be there for a week and was like, that’s no way like, how did you do that? And I trusted this guy is so it’s like I know you’re not lying to me.
[00:16:22.600] – Nate Ritter
Like, how did you how are you doing this and he’s like, how do you know when it’s every couple years to different places and I’m like, okay for real like what are you what it what is this like some weird club that night?
[00:16:41.400] – Nate Ritter
But now he was he sat down he’s like, well, I have the spreadsheet and I have all these credit cards that we turn through and then he showed me the credit cards and he literally had like a ziplock bag full of credit card sound like that’s in that’s crazy like. You know, and so I asked all the typical first, you know, two questions that come you know come with it. How do you how do you do that? And I get your credit hit doesn’t doesn’t hurt your credit.
[00:17:05.400] – Nate Ritter
How do you how are you able to do that? Don’t you get in a blacklisted by the credit cards? And you know, how long does it take to do it? Like all these questions? Right? And he’s like, okay, it’s alright. Let’s just sit down for an evening in any explained it all in and that was it. I was hooked.
[00:17:18.200] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it’s kind of like travel blogging and people always like I do you get to travel for free and like, well, you know, there’s a lot of work behind it and it’s like with travel hacking it is you’re traveling for free, but you have to put an effort right to do that cuz I’m sitting here thinking like Kim, what are we doing wrong? Like I do travel and use points in miles and all that but not to quite that extent we’re still paying a little bit more than $200
[00:17:44.700] – Kim Tate
you know talked about this before tomorrow that it truly can be like the couponing thing and you have to have a real passion for it where the amount of time and effort is kind of fun and like a hobby to you because it’s it takes a lot of work to manage all that. I mean I’ve seen the people like you said, I need that have like the credit cards in the every quarter. They change out every month or change output.
[00:18:07.000] – Kim Tate
Like what car do you use for dining, what card use for gas what can to use at grocery stores and they keep track of all that and it’s it’s definitely a lot of work.
[00:18:15.100] – Nate Ritter
I think it actually one of the hardest things not actually earning it even that like that’s take some organization. I think the spending of those points is probably where it is the craziest cuz you have you know, only so many things right all the awards seats that that that alone with a divvy up the airline itself they divvy up all the seats into the all the different, you know categories and what not. Like that’s I didn’t know that until I started.
[00:18:41.600] – Kim Tate
And sometimes it’s like so if you want to see the availability for this Airline, you actually go to this other partner line. If you’re not going to talk about flying we are going to talk a little bit more about hotels but to start off, you know, we know you’ve mentioned that you have kids. So what do you normally look for in a hotel that you think makes it family-friendly when you’re considering where to stay with your family?.
[00:19:08.000] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, there’s a couple things we look for in fact, I recently just found a list of brands that I’m going to be looking for specifically, but we look for Extended Stay or Residence Inn type of brand and I think one of the reasons why we’ve all kind of gone towards Airbnb’s because we get those kitchens and and the extra rooms and that kind of thing and so we don’t we look for hotels, which usually if you see if you stay with a particular brand new kind of know what their standard is.
[00:19:35.400] – Nate Ritter
It’s not quite as a variable at airbnb’s of course with hotels, but should we look for these Extended Stays or residence Inns or those kinds of things where you get kitchenettes? That’s our first that’s the first thing we look for is do we get a kitchen. I’m usually that means that the room is slightly bigger as well and they’re not that different of a price in any other hotels in so that our number one filter in the number two think we look for is transportation and I’m things that I like for instance it is it easy to get there with buses or Subways or ridesharing can be a little difficult unless if you have kids too big because I’m sure as many of your listeners know what do you do about the seats, you know, if you did you bring along when those inflatable ones or do they have them or do you never know? So inflatable seat car seats can be helpful in certain situations, but we really try and stick to public transportation if we can and then we look for a walkable locations. So less traffic roads Parks beaches nearby grocery stores restaurants all those kinds of things.
[00:20:36.400] – Nate Ritter
They really cut down on the cost of a transportation outside of the area that you’re in but also just the enjoyment of like walking outside of your hotel are your accommodations in finding, you know a park to play into the kids or Beach to run on those kinds of things is just very very helpful. So one of the examples we have this when we did go to Paris now we have is absolutely gorgeous inside inner Courtyard area, and I’m the staff was amazing, especially to our kids sitting up like chocolates and fruit baskets and I mean like we’re not a celebrity.
[00:21:07.900] – Nate Ritter
We were treated like it and that it was literally two blocks from the Eiffel Tower but it was practically hidden and it was to searching like like that that we kind of came across this this little gem of a of a hotel. It was tiny, but you’d never see it from the outside. But from the inside was just absolutely beautiful to
[00:21:25.000] – Tamara Gruber
I love those little hidden gems fantastic and as you are talking about some of those Brands. So I’m thinking like also like not only do they have kitchenettes which are so helpful, especially right now and you’re trying to like maybe prepare more food or bring more food in if you are traveling but a lot of times they’re the ones that have the free breakfast and then there was no charge for parking if you’d like those kind of things to so I’m actually looking at doing a road trip and that’s exactly the kind of brand that we’re looking at right now.
[00:21:53.100] – Tamara Gruber
So I imagine that when you were first doing your travel hacking it was a lot easier than when you started trying to manage it with traveling with a family. I mean, especially when it comes to the airfare is but you know hotels definitely add up, you know when you travel.
[00:22:07.900] – Tamara Gruber
The family and I both have teens. So just wait for that because then you need a little bit more space. You know, everybody doesn’t fit into one room quite as easy, so I’m wondering do you have any tips on ways to find deals mean sounds like you’ve done a good job so far is it just using you know miles or are points rather or are you actually just into finding some good deals and kind of secret ways.
[00:22:31.800] – Nate Ritter
Yeah kind of a combination of things now with the credit card churning. It’s become a bit difficult, especially with Chase and kind of the changes they have made in the recent years. So we do a bit less of that now but what are the ways in in this is something that is not not easy to do all the time because it’s you have to kind of keep an eye on what’s out there. But what we’ve done in the past to get like Frances free accommodations one way as we keep track and kind of look for new startups that would come out that we’re kind of like home exchange type startups and we found one you may have heard of Called Love home swap.
[00:23:06.700] – Nate Ritter
And when they first started they were out of UK and they would actually give you points credits towards staying to get with another member if you just simply listed your home and so we didn’t necessarily want to rent it out for say, but we did want to see you in a what was this exchange thing about and when we when we listed it we got points eventually home exchange. Com bought them and we transfer their points into that service, but we would get points just simply through services like that.
[00:23:36.400] – Nate Ritter
Just a listing are our house not necessarily even renting it then we ended up with I think about a month’s worth of points in that way, but I learned through working in the travel industry about this kind of underlying inventory of hotel prices that existed that nobody really it’s not public because of the way that the the hotel industry kind of works. They they have this agreement with the online travel agencies, which are like the expedia’s and booking.com and hotels.com of the world have this agreement there that this whole it looks like we’re going to call wholesale inventory does not exist in it. You can’t exist in the public sphere. You can’t show the prices for particular dates for that particular hotel. That’s kind of a three points there if you do and it was some some companies have done this in the past. They can get their hands slapped and then basically they lose their ability to show that inventory. And so it’s pretty push down upon in terms of like making sure that you know, who is who who’s accessing these rates but there are there’s a whole underlying set of hotel rates that I found out about it a couple years ago and I was just blown away that price difference is that are out there. And so that’s the other other we’re out that we trying and and get really good discount rates on hotels.
[00:24:56.300] – Tamara Gruber
Once you see that or once you know that there’s some of those routes available like how do you then have access to him? Like I’m thinking I had a brief stint as a travel advisor for a short period of time. So I know the travel agents get commission and that’s usually off of a best available rate. So clearly there’s even better that could be offered and then there’s of course like corporate rates and discounts things like that. But how is your kind of an average traveler family traveler? How do you get access to those more wholesale rates?
[00:25:27.300] – Nate Ritter
There’s traditionally been offered to people in clubs. It is basically a closed user group and that’s basically kind of these membership clubs where you would buy it and we’ve heard about these clubs that exists and have effectively the same inventory that we have with the product that we built but they have this this this inventory and they charge something like $1600 a year and then some like, you know, a hundred dollars a month or something like that to have access to it.
[00:25:56.300] – Nate Ritter
Essentially what it is is it’s it’s a non Publix. It’s a private group of people wear the company whose administrating that group knows each of the members that I can’t so that way it kind of keeps it to a private atmosphere so in a way you can kind of think of it as corporate rates. And so if you work for Verizon as an employee, for instance, you might be given some code or something that you could then tell the hotel. Hey, I have the corporate rate and they would give you a better discount better rate because the corporation has managed to negotiate this in this particular case is not even a negotiation.
[00:26:29.600] – Nate Ritter
It’s just that this is what it used to be is it used to be that the hotels with bundle with airfare and tour operators in the area and those kinds of things and now because of the internet those have all been kind of unbundled and so now you have hotels which have a huge margin this underlying cause that’s actually very low compared to what you’re seeing online and so because of that unbundling that the online travel agencies like Expedia have done, now those are capable to be used in purchased just because of the industry acronyms they’re not able to be purchased by the average consumer at the price that they could be. So what we do at RoomSteals. We’ve basically taken this idea and said well, we’re just going to go ahead and say you anybody can become a member and you can see the see that price and where to make that completely transparent and so we’re to show you what that prices and then let you book it.
[00:27:24.700] – Nate Ritter
If you would like so is a bit bit of a couple caveats the model and I had to how we’re doing it. But the Baseline idea there is that we want to show the public. This is the actual wholesale rate that’s available to you and it’s just that we have to hide it behind at login. So you have to be a member and that’s it. So we do that through social login. So for instance if you you can use a username and password, but the easiest ways to the also use for instance your Google account or Gmail account or something like that.
[00:27:56.200] – Nate Ritter
What you do with it is considered private and now we can show you the wholesale rates for trying to expose that to the public but doing so still within the rules of the travel industry.
[00:28:05.500] – Kim Tate
It’s good to know that you’re you’re kind of aware of those the rules cuz I know you know, there was a big story about I think it’s skiplagged or something like that where a guy had written code that basically would find it was cheaper to go to go from Orlando to Seattle and you want to there’s a stop in Denver, but you find out that it’s actually cheaper than what Orlando to Denver is. And so the skip lag was kind of doing this cheating way of getting you where you just get off the plane in Denver and not get back on.
[00:28:35.300] – Kim Tate
There was a problem because it was against the terms of service of your airfare, but it sounds like the secrets of power that by keeping it clean so that it is it is kind of open up now. Here’s a question that I wonder do you earn any points? So if I’m a Marriott member and I find a Marriott deal and I use rooms deals what iron Marriott points still.
[00:29:01.500] – Nate Ritter
So that’s a great question in Wholesale in the wholesale Marketplace traditionally, you don’t and so what you’re giving up. Is it giving up some of the amenities some of the extra things like using your loyalty cards in in those kinds of things you may not get for instance a free breakfast. Sometimes their terms of service might change. Do you want to come to pay attention that to see if it’s refundable or cancel? A lot of times it is now because of covid-19 that’s still something that they could be given up.
[00:29:28.400] – Nate Ritter
But what I found though is even with these rates actually to trick it seems to be just the one thing to do is is even if you booked a hotel rate in the matter what rate you book actually I would always now I always call the hotel ahead of time and I give him my loyalty card in the added to my reservation nine times out of ten. Even if it’s a wholesale rate and then the same thing though, I would also call and just you know talk to them and many times do I upgrade you to a room? Like for instance that that’s small room that I mentioned in Paris next to the Eiffel Tower we just told them hey, we had this kind of crazy experience and we’re coming in and you know that we know it’s last-minute and we just kind of told him the story and our story as to what we were experiencing while being there and they like, oh no problem come in and they upgraded us to this suite and that’s when they started sending like chocolates and like all kinds of crazy stuff and it was just because we had a conversation we didn’t we didn’t specifically ask for it and we didn’t even infer it, we were just surprised by it and it was just because you know as a front desk clerk, I mean their job is to really make your stay really great.
[00:30:33.500] – Nate Ritter
And if they have room in time to do that, then they’ll do it in the same thing goes for the loyalty points. So back to your question that it if you just simply say I have a loyalty card tonight add that to this reservation nine times out of ten they’re going to do it and even if they don’t what I would do then is I would go to the front desk when I check in and do the same thing and say, you know, we leave out of here because you’ll get a different response depending on the person sometimes.
[00:31:01.500] – Kim Tate
I’ve had that with conference rates and sometimes they will still treat me like, you know a member so I sometimes feel counted as a stay right even if you don’t get points and sometimes it’s like a number like you have X number stays than you qualify for something.
[00:31:13.200] – Nate Ritter
That’s one of the biggest tips that I give to people and it seems so mundane because you like to talk to people I know that’s right, but it’s it seems too good to have the most perks out of all the things that that we do in terms of travel hacking and all that is talking to the front desk folks and just being super nice and and it’s amazing what happens when you’re just nice to people that should have said it’s sad that maybe that’s a rarity.
[00:31:44.300] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah, so you mentioned that you know that typically this would be a club membership that you’re paying into and I know a lot of when it comes to flights a lot of those are still like paid subscriptions and things to access certain deals. So is there a payment or is there a membership fee for using room steals or it’s just you login and membership in quotes is free.
[00:32:07.400] – Nate Ritter
There is a fee. The way that we decided to do this to make this more transparent and more available to people kind of one of our internal motto is we want to enable you to save more so that you can travel more and so the idea here is that we want to show you what the wholesale rate is. So that’s free. So when you sign into room steals you and then we have a Chrome extension that you can use in so as you browse around like booking.com Expedia or something like that, it will show you the rate the wholesale rate that’s available.
[00:32:43.900] – Nate Ritter
And so if that rate makes sense if it’s cheaper than what the rate is that you’re going to see I’m at booking.com. For instance. Then you can click on on on a extension and come over to Room Steals to book in the part where we make our money. So we make no money on the transaction.
[00:33:01.400] – Nate Ritter
So if so no money on on commissions no money on margins for each transaction that comes to your system. So we honestly don’t care whether you booked it through us or whether we find you another rate somewhere else and we show that to you our goal is to make sure that you see the cheapest rate possible. So we make no money on each transaction book. So to be able to enable us to do that. We do have kind of a subscription model. So it’s an annual fee right now.
[00:33:27.900] – Nate Ritter
It’s $59 and will probably be up in that actually in the next month or so and we will by the way grandfather everybody into Old pricing. We have some people who are still on a dollar 99 a month. But yeah, we kind of gate keep it by making an annual fee. So it’s kind of like a Costco sort of thing. Like we keep the commission’s really low and not on Frost we didn’t eat nothing but we make our money on the subscription. So the idea here is if you see a rate that covers that subscription, which many, most of our members are paying members. do, you book it and you’re likely covered completely and as an example, I’m just last week. We had a new member show up and they saved $500 off of think it was a two day or maybe 3-day stay so easily cover their they’re $59 a year membership, you know, so and it’s still way better than paying the retail price no matter what once you pay the annual membership now, it’s like basically all you can eat from there on.
[00:34:34.100] – Kim Tate
So yeah, like you said, it is nice that you show the number in advance. So you can really see that’s all I’m going to save more than $59. So it’s a done deal. So are there we talked about the fact that it sounds like you can book on the on the sites and everything is there so there’s no tricks then if you want to see secret deals in Hidden rooms, and you know, we’ve all had the the old fashioned Travelocity price.
[00:35:01.300] – Kim Tate
So, is there a this is it sounds like this is just like booking a room direct. You can choose your room configuration. Cuz for families that’s huge. Like I’m not going to share a king bed with my daughter and my husband.
[00:35:14.300] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, you are search engine in the way that the rooms are displayed because we pull in from so many different sources. It’s not as nice and neat as booking.com, I’ll admit that but we are showing you is the cheapest rate at that hotel so might not be the exact configuration that you’re looking for.
[00:35:32.200] – Nate Ritter
But that being said, you know at that point when we take you to 2 hour booking engine, you can easily compare and see what the differences are. It does say, this is a king with a couch or this is to Queens or whatever so that you can select your configuration the price that we show you is like I said is the cheapest at that hotel and it may not be the one that you’re looking for. But you can definitely select your configuration. It might be a slightly different price but wholesale still should beat whatever the.
[00:36:01.300] – Nate Ritter
Retailcomm public version is and isn’t always happen that way and I’ll be the first to admit that but the bookings that we have gotten they’ve been quite significant and we see most of our members when they booked something with us. They’re saving on average of 25% over across the entire year they’re booking and that’s just because some people find insane rates and some people find you no one’s in there just booking embittered the same as it celebrates, but on average is 25% So I think that it seems when I’ve used the service myself that I’m able to find Kings and double queens and those kinds of things without too much problem in there still much cheaper than I would find on any of the other sites.
[00:36:40.300] – Tamara Gruber
So it sounds like you see maybe the lowest in the extension, but then once you click over to actually book, then you can still get that actual the room the specific room and configuration that you’re looking for.
[00:36:51.700] – Nate Ritter
Yes, and yes and many times. I has the same verbage even in the description so you can look at the the verbage it says, you know, here’s the thing includes breakfast or doesn’t include breakfast and you can see the same verbage on the on booking.com or whatever service you looking at.
[00:37:08.000] – Tamara Gruber
So when it comes to family travel, you know, we time to travel more on the weekends school breaks summer all of that kind of stuff. Is there a better time that you’re seeing better deals, like is it with this typically be more of like a corporate and then therefore you’re seeing better deals on the weekend or is it just kind of like everything where it depends on kind of more of the location of the hotel?
[00:37:30.400] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, it really depends on all kinds of factors. So as you your list has been no hotels and especially the bigger brands have a person who is dedicated to be to find out how they can manipulate prices to get the maximum dollars at total dollars out of whether it is occupancy or the rate itself. And so they’re always manipulating that price over time depending on what they see. So if the weather is going to be great for some. Of time or there’s a golf tournament in town or something like that.
[00:38:00.600] – Nate Ritter
They’re going to change the rates according to what they see in in their Marketplace. And so the hotel rates, do the same thing, they fluctuate as well. And so the only thing I could say pretty definitively is if there is a Citywide event. So let’s say for instance a Formula One event or something like that in your city or something that’s going to take up the entire city. There’s it’s very unlikely. There will be any wholesale rates available at that point just because it’s really if you think about Supply.
[00:38:30.300] – Nate Ritter
They’re not going to have that I can give you any wholesale rates if they’re occupancy is quite high already. And so that’s their that this person is at old job is to maximize that that amount the whole wholesale rates show up when there’s a bit of a lull in in the marketplace. It’s really there for tour operators or for other people to package together groups of travel packages in so that that was its original purpose for the wholesale rates. And so so when that happens when there’s availability in the market for people to come in and be tourists, then they’re going to the rear to see more wholesale rates available when there’s less capacity and available and in the city is bought up in terms of hotels or travel traveling tourist, you get to see the last not to say that it’s completely unheard of in a high season at all since I’ve seen in both Las Vegas and in Portugal I heard I’ve seen these rates where the penthouse suite switch by no means will I ever be able to afford? Otherwise we’re going for $3,000 a night and I saw them for going for $300 a night and that’s what the difference is an end. If you looked on Expedia or any of these other sites, you will see them at $3,000 because they’re selling that same price that they’re buying it at 300 and that’s that’s where we come in. That’s that’s actually one of the examples that I used because it was so irritating me to see that that’s why I built the service at the meeting.
[00:40:06.800] – Nate Ritter
But again, it’s it’s really depending upon what the market kind of looks like in the local Geographic market and what that revenue managers doing.
[00:40:15.900] – Tamara Gruber
It is good to think about though. I think back to quite a few years ago when we were traveling to New York and I found like such better rates in lower Manhattan because it’s more in a business district on the weekends, you know, if you can kind of think about like well hey, where would they may be be, you know offering maybe where would capacity be lower that they might need to offer these rates, you know, and so maybe think about that even locationwise or timing-wise.
[00:40:41.800] – Kim Tate
I think families they need to keep in mind like if you’re wanting to go on vacation that weekend cuz your kids are out of school or whatever. There’s probably a large majority of people who have that same idea to wrap up. We got your good deal about the rooms deals in wholesale.
[00:40:58.900] – Kim Tate
You’ve also given us the tip of you know, talking to the hotel directly and seeing what you can you know yet maybe as a little perk or upgrades but do you have any other final tips that families are people Travelers can use on you know deals for saving money on hotels that you want to share with our listeners.
[00:41:15.600] – Nate Ritter
Yeah, I think the the biggest tip again goes back to you. I think normally it’s just being flexible with any kind of Point hacking any kind of travel hacking that you’re doing really thought flexibility is about as I mentioned talking to the front desk and then of course, you know, you’ve done these shows in the past on credit card points in miles and I think that’s that’s how we’ve been able to travel as much as we have. So the new services like these home exchange services are something to keep tabs on outside of that.
[00:41:43.300] – Nate Ritter
It’s really about making sure that you have access to those wholesale rates because they can be amazing at times but I think that pretty well sums up our kind of a 8:20 like what we really look for when were when were traveling is a family and then how we kind of do our travel hacking with those kind of of points of focus.
[00:42:02.300] – Tamara Gruber
Well you have definitely given me something to think about. I’m actually still a little fixated on the penthouse suite and because we haven’t traveled in so long I’m all right now about like give me the perks like I want to I want be luxury where is when I’m traveling all the time. I’m like, I just want a place to stay. I want to see things and do things, you know, but right now it’s just like I just want to be in a nice hotel and you know be treated like give me those chocolates, right?
[00:42:36.300] – Tamara Gruber
But yeah, so thanks a lot for your tips one question that we ask all of our guests and that is what do you wear when you travel do you have any favorite brands that you enjoy?.
[00:42:47.500] – Nate Ritter
Well, I’m a jeans and t-shirt or hoodie kind of guy. So literally, that’s all I prefer to wear while traveling. I don’t really have anything different but the most comfortable thing that I can bring it to us about any weather in without too much trouble. I do love my backpack. I will say that I try not to pack any more than I can fit in there and it’s by Nomatic and I want to try out and then all as well, but they they seem to have similar to crossover in terms of how how great the kind of community loves each of them.
[00:43:15.700] – Nate Ritter
But I will I do when I can I throw this back at you. I do actually have a question. I wish I had a comfy shoe to wear and I have not really spent much on shoes. But when I’m traveling if I’m like, that’s the one thing that I wish I I wish I would wish I would spend on tonight. I don’t even know where would you look for any suggestions?
[00:43:33.600] – Tamara Gruber
You know, we always ask and we tend to interview more women than men and so many of the women will answer about the shoes. And then as you say that I’m thinking like, you know, my husband was complaining about his feet when were walking around a lot? And so maybe he’s not thinking it as much I don’t know. I mean, I don’t pay a lot of attention to guy shoes, but I think like Skechers in general like, you know, very comfortable and so they have a lot of options for guys too. And they’re not necessarily did on all look like basic sneaker, you know, like some of them have some style to them.
[00:44:07.500] – Kim Tate
I was thinking of we did talk to the one lady that was talking about Oofos that are made for runners and offer good support, and I know you love Taos too Tamara.
[00:44:20.900] – Kim Tate
Yeah, and I think they have a male line as well, but they have really good arch support knee and said of the Taos shoes might be something to look at and we did just one of the men we we talked to recently actually went on about a shoes didn’t he had a couple different things. I feel like somebody we talked to recently.
[00:44:39.400] – Kim Tate
Talk about shoes, but now I can’t I’m blanking on it. But we’re going to go to look that up. You’ll have to look it up and get back to you Nate. But a couple that you might look at is that Oofos or the Taos. But I might be a good hiking like I think Merrill most most people on our show always rave about Merrill and they make a lot of different styles.
[00:45:20.000] – Kim Tate
Why don’t you let our listeners know where they can find you online? If you share your travels anywhere and then also kind of tell them about how they can get signed up for room steals. If they want to look for some of those wholesale hotel rates.
[00:45:34.400] – Nate Ritter
So I can be found in a pretty active on Twitter. So Nate Ritter and n a t e r i t t e r and then we first have RoomSteals on Twitter and then RoomSteals.com for the website there.
[00:45:49.600] – Nate Ritter
And then I’d love to give your listeners a coupon code for RoomSteals. So this would be for the annual fee. So when you go to room steals.com or you download the extension sign-in, you can still see all the pricing for free, but when you’re ready to actually book that hotel and need to become a member and pay the annual we have a coupon code with just use the all one word vacation mavens and that coupon code will give you 20% off of that subscription so that Annual fees so when you actually book your hotel, you’ll get even better the price at that point.
[00:46:25.800] – Tamara Gruber
Thank you, that’s awesome. I’m sure our listeners will be jumping on that.I think can be very useful to families and we look forward to checking it out both.
[00:46:48.400] – Tamara Gruber
We are back and I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to one of our listeners who I know is a long time listener. So Eliza, I just want to say thank you so much because when we put out our Instagram post about our fifth anniversary a couple of weeks ago, she let us know that she’s listen to every single episode which I think is amazing and we definitely appreciate and if there is anyone else out there that it can make that same claim. Please let us know.
[00:47:13.700] – Tamara Gruber
We’re happy to give you a shout out and thanks to everyone that you gave us a congratulations and your supported us throughout the years
[00:47:21.300] – Kim Tate
A huge thank you. We have loved because you guys so when you tell us that you like us and that you’re listening to us that makes us feel so happy. So thanks for tuning in and speaking of you can join us again in 2 weeks. We are going to be talking all about Florida hotels which are having a boom year unlike most of the travel industry.
[00:47:41.400] – Tamara Gruber
So join us then talk to you soon.