Jan192009

SkyAuction.com Goes Upper Upscale on Hotels

Four Seasons, J.W. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Conrad, Hyatt Resorts, and InterContinental Hotels are hotel brand names you might be surprised to see if you have not visited the travel auction site SkyAuction.com lately. 

I focus much of my analysis on hotel loyalty programs since I find chain hotel brands give me the most value for the 50 to 80 nights a year I stay in hotels.  The added value benefits received for a hotel stay as a top elite member in a major hotel loyalty program like HHonors or Starwood Preferred Guest can easily amount to $100 per night in complimentary upgrades and services.  Sometimes a spectacular room upgrade can be an added value of several hundred dollars for a single hotel night when you walk into a large best-in-the-hotel suite.

There is lesser value in hotel loyalty programs for the guest not receiving regular frequent guest elite benefits during the hotel stay. 

When you just want to get any room at any upscale to luxury hotel, there are alternatives like Hotwire.com and Priceline.com for getting a relatively low room rate compared to booking through a major hotel chain or an online travel agency like Expedia.com.   

SkyAuction.com hotel listings these days resemble more and more a bucket list of upper-upscale hotels rather than an auction block for struggling independent hotels and time-share dumps. 

SkyAuction.com is almost the reverse of Priceline.com.  You see the specific hotel where you are bidding for a stay, but what you don’t know is whether another bidder will win the auction at the last second.  Also, you don’t know, at least until after you have won the bid, whether your preferred dates will be available.

Booking and Bidding Advice:

1.      Check your desired dates on the hotel’s own reservations website to see the prevailing rates for your tentative stay dates and look for special offer rate discounts or add-ons like parking, breakfast, and free nights on extended stays.

2.      Calculate the SkyAuction bid limit based on adding together:

a.       Bid Price for auction

b.      Taxes and fees ($49 per night additional for most SkyAuction hotel offers)

c.       Any seasonal surcharges listed for your desired hotel stay dates.

3.      Compare the cost of SkyAuction hotel offer to hotel website best offers. 

4.      Make quick estimate of the value of additional items like breakfast, parking, spa treatment, and recreation opportunities incorporated into special offer rates.  If you need parking or really desire breakfast at the hotel in the morning, then special offer rates often provide these amenities at a lower overall package rate. 

Fortunately, SkyAuction has a fairly easy policy of refunding a winning bid if the dates of your stay fit within the parameters of the auction and the hotel doesn’t want to release a room during your preferred dates.

The upper upscale hotel market is being impacted by the reduction in travel in 2008.  Guest occupancy for upper upscale hotels in USA has declined over 20% from the same week period in 2008.  Total hotel room occupancy nationwide for the thousands of upper upscale hotels fell below 50% for the first full week of the new year according to hotel industry data for January 4-10, 2009 published by STR, a leading provider of hotel industry room rate research. 

The luxury hotel market segment has suffered even greater occupancy rate declines, around 24% fewer guests in the first work week of January 2009.

Thousands of rooms every night all across the USA are sitting empty.  More than half the rooms at high-end hotels with brand names like Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Conrad, and InterContinental were unoccupied by guests for the first full work week of 2009.  While the US upscale to luxury hotel market as a whole has seen occupancy declines greater than 20% at the start of 2009, the average rate for a room has only dropped around 8% for 2009 compared to one year ago. 

Loyalty Traveler analyzed potential winning bids on SkyAuction.com for hotel offers during January 17-19, 2009 and compared the SkyAuction prices to hotel’s own website offers.

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

SkyAuction Potential Winning Bid including all taxes and fees.

Hotel website rate     Sat-Sat, 7 nights   Feb 14-21, 2009

Hotel Website rate Tue-Sun, 5 nights, March 3 – 8, 2009

Hyatt Regency Aruba

$355/night

$384 per night + 19.5% tax = $457/night

$457/night

Westin Chicago North Shore

$150/night

$249/night BAR or $276 taxed.

$199/night

JW Marriott Las Vegas

$149 (up to 7 nights) 

 

$1,043 for 7 nights.

 

$745 for 5 nights.

$1,659 for 7 nights (Marriott site). Includes breakfast for 2. 

 

Skyauction $1,043 without breakfast and points.  Great deal to save $600. 

$1,302.55 for 5 nights (Marriott site). Includes breakfast for 2. 

 

Skyauction $745 for 5 nights without breakfast and points. Great deal to save $550.

InterContinental      New Orleans

$118 (up to 7 nights)

$239 per night + 13% + $2 = $272/night

$153 per night

Miami Hilton

$99 (up to 10 nights)

$239/night + 13% tax = $1,350.35 for Feb 16-21

$246 March 3-8, 2009

Conrad Hotel Miami

$153 total (up to 14 nights)

$1,645 +  $213.85 (13% tax) = $1,859 or $266/night total

$275 advance purchase NR March 3-8, 2009 = $311 / night total on Hilton

JW Marriott Desert Springs, Palm Desert

$180/night through May 2

or $120/night May 3 to Aug 31 (up to 10 nights)

 $346/night or $2,423 total for Feb 15-22

$348/night or

$1,861 for 5 nights at $311 per night average + $37.15 tax + $24 resort fee

Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC

$66 (up to 8 nights) Stay through June 30, 2009

$99 USD total per night on Marriott

$107 USD total per night on marriott.com

Westin St. Francis, San Francisco

$148 night

$226 +14% tax = $258 night

Sold Out

Hilton Post Oak at the Galleria

$91 night (up to 14 nights)

$219/night

$191 (5 nights) $179 (2 nights) = $1,313 + $223 (17% tax) = $1,536

$209/night

 

$183 night + 17% tax or $1,045 for 5 nights

Sheraton Maui

$279 min bid (no bids) + $49 taxes = $328/night on SkyAuction for low season stays.

$270 per night + 11.41% tax + $26.04 resort fee = $327/night on SPG. 

 

(SkyAuction $50 seasonal surcharge raises daily rate to  $378/night.)

$245 + 11.41% tax + $26.04 resort fee = $299 per night on SPG.

 

(Skyauction is $279 + $50 surcharge + $49 taxes/fees = $378 per night.)

Small Luxury Hotels member hotel for up to 5 nights

$250 (additional taxes and fees were not mentioned on offer.)

 400 hotels to select from with this offer.

Castle on the Hudson Tarrytown, NY $650/night + tax

InterContinental Tampa

$250

$193 + 12% = $216 on IHG

$296.10 +12% = $332 on IHG; March 3-8, 2009

Ritz Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

$224/night

$175 bid + $49 taxes/fees per night (up to 14 nights) $224 x 7 = $1,568

3 nights $249 + 4 nights $299 + 12.5% tax = $2,186 ($300 resort credit for 7 night stay.)

$299/night or $1,681.87 for 5 nights with a $200 resort credit.  SkyAuction would be $1,120.

Carlyle, Manhattan, New York

$299 + $49 Taxes/fees = $349/night total

Website rate Feb 15-22, 2009 $550/night + tax  or $627/night total

$495/night + 14% tax = $565/night total

Actual winning bid prices are not known. Potential winning bids shown were bids shortly before close and most hotels have had more than one offer in past week with similarly priced  potentially winning bids.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Hi,

    Webloyalty Reservation Rewards offers Hotel Overbooking Protection. It safeguards you against situations in which your guaranteed reservation is not being honored. Now you can get the quoted rate of the room returned to you as cash back – up to $500.00 per year.

    Thanks
    Sofia.

  2. Hello

    I have used SkyAuction.com several times! Great Company. There are many hotel auctions I have won at such a low price it was unbelievable. What I have also taken advantage of are their Dining and Entertainment Packages. I am looking to travel to New York and I noticed I can bid on a $100 Dining Certificate and 2 Orchestra Tickets to a Broadway Show! What a Deal! I will defiantly recommend.

    Best,

    Ralph Patterson

  3. If you want to know what the actual winning bids are, either create a watch on the auction, in which case you can look at the auction after it closes, or click on “Winners” at the bottom of the page to see all recent auction closing prices.

Comments are closed.