Travellers could save hundreds of pounds on their holiday simply by booking their accommodation on their smartphone rather than a computer.
Holidaymakers booking a hotel or apartment through Booking.com can cut costs by doing so on their phones, either on the website’s app or a browser tab.
In fact, those who opt for the ‘mobile-only prices’ could see savings of hundreds of pounds on accommodation across the world, even on a short break.
However, it is not Booking.com that chooses when and how these discounts are applied, rather the individual accommodation providers.
Customers could save on their hotel stays at Booking.com by reserving their trip on a mobile
A Booking.com spokesperson said: ‘At Booking.com we know that our customers are increasingly moving to mobile and in particular our app, with the majority of our room nights booked using these methods.
‘Our accommodation partners are in complete control of the rates they choose to list and this includes when they decide to offer discounts or special deals, which can include promotions for users accessing Booking.com from a mobile device.’
The ‘mobile-only prices’ will only be visible on a smartphone with the rates applying to all of a providers rates and plans.
It seems Booking.com encourages its partners to offer such deals, with its website telling providers: ‘By activating a mobile rate at your property, you can tap into this valuable and expanding traveller segment.
‘All you have to do is offer an exclusive discount of 10 per cent or higher for mobile users. Once you’ve done this, a special badge will appear next to your property in search results and on your property page.
‘This helps increase your visibility, and can improve your conversion rate for mobile bookers.’
Booking.com added that over half its reservations were made via a mobile device which could explain why hotels and apartments would be happy to offer such large discounts on smartphones.
It is not the only booking site, however, to offer mobile-only deals.
Expedia revealed it is common for hotels to offer ‘mobile exclusive deals’ or other special offers to Expedia consumers.
It explained these deals can be useful for accommodation providers as it can help sell hotel rooms that are available at the last minute.
Whilst not all booking sites don’t offer mobile only discounts, they do have reward schemes
A spokesperson said: ‘As in many other industries, hotel prices are dynamic and can be different from one search to another based on a number of factors including live changes in price and availability, hotel-originated rates and promotions, special deals or promotional offers, currency exchange rates and many other variables.
‘If the person searching was logged in or otherwise identified as a member on either platform, they could also be seeing special member-only deals, which is common practice across online marketplaces.
‘This is a great way for hotels to manage their room inventory, especially if they have last-minute rooms to sell, for example.
‘As a result, these deals would likely feature higher up in the hotel sort order on a mobile device as the hotel is providing a more compelling offer for travellers booking via mobile. In this instance mobile devices include smartphones and tablets.’
Hotels.com and Trivago had not responded to comment by the time of publication.
I saved on my NYC trip doing this
By Lee Boyce, deputy editor
Last week, my friend and I booked flights for New York next June – and then went hunting on Booking.com for the best hotel prices for the week.
NYC – like London – is notoriously expensive for hotel rooms, but armed with our dates, we were confident we could find a good price for two rooms.
However, I was searching on my Macbook and cursing at the high prices – they seemed to have shot up on the week before, even with me logged in and with a ‘Genius’ discount.
This is a discount it gives returning customers. My friend urged me to clear my cookies – it made no difference.
We decided to search on Booking, rather than go directly, because of its free cancellation policy. It also gives a good gauge of prices in which, if you have the inclination, you can go and search direct to price haggle.
‘Let me have a look,’ my friend said, as he loaded up the dates on Booking.com on his iPhone on a browser, not its app.
‘This looks cheap,’ he said showing me the phone. It was cheap – nearly half the price of the same hotel that had previously been spat out at me on my Macbook.
Then we spotted it. It was a ‘mobile-only’ price. I started looking on my phone – and logged in – and sure enough, many of the prices were cheaper.
In the end, we found a hotel at a ‘mobile-only’ price and we booked that way. I’d never noticed this quirk before.
What other rewards do booking sites offer?
Aside from ‘mobile-only prices’, Booking.com also has a loyalty programme, named Genius.
There are two levels including Genius Level One, which gives all customers who sign-up free lifetime access to Genius Level 1 discounts at participating properties as well as a 10 per cent discount on the price of their stay before taxes and charges are applied.
Genius Level Two is for those who complete five stays in two years to unlock free lifetime access to travel rewards at participating properties with discounts of 10 to 15 per cent.
Fortunately, for those booking a ‘mobile-only price’, the offers work in conjunction with Genius discounts, which gives frequent bookers varying discounts on accommodation.
Booking.com said it was its accommodation partners that choose how much the discount is
Expedia also offers more money off for those who are Expedia Members.
When customers sign up or sign in to their Expedia Rewards account, they can access instant savings worth 10 per cent or more on select hotels each time they see a yellow Member Price tag, in addition to the points they will earn on eligible bookings along the way.
The more points a member earns, the more free perks they will receive such as free Wi-Fi and free spa credits.
It claims its members save an average of £35 per booking with their points.
Meanwhile, Hotels.com gives its members one night free stay for every ten nights they purchase through the site.
There are also savings to be had on with Secret Prices on selected properties. For more regular customers, they could be upgraded to a Silver or Gold member.
A customer will be made a Silver member after booking 10 nights in a membership year before earning Gold status after booking 30 nights in a membership year.
Silver members should receive free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, airport transfers and spa vouchers where you see the gift box icon at selected properties as well as a price guarantee where if you see a better price on exactly the same day, Hotels.com will match it and refund you the difference.
They should also be given Hassle-Free Travel Guarantee so if you have to change your travel plans, the firm will minimise hotel charges and cancellation fees.
Hotels.com Rewards Gold members receive all of the above plus a complimentary room upgrade and early check-in and late checkout, subject to availability.
Trivago does not offer specific discounts for customers but do have deals on both their desktop, mobile and apps.