This is why it is common for a website nowadays to be designed to look into your location and browsing history in order to personalize your web experience. Travel sites are no exception. Depending on where you’re searching for your next hotel from, the rate you are offered is likely to be different. If you are located in a low-income country, for example, you may get more affordable hotel deals than those accessing the site from a high-income country.
Fortunately, there is a workaround and it involves the use of a VPN.
A VPN allows you to circumvent location monitoring and web tracking, which allows you to see prices usually available in other countries.
How Does It Work?
You probably have noticed that whenever you search for something on Google, the search engine knows to show you results in or around your location first. Have you ever wondered how they do this? Google uses Basic Service Set Identifier or BSSID information from your WLAN Access Point to get your approximate location. Comparison and hotel booking sites basically do the same. Additionally, they employ a handful of methods to learn about your unique online habits. From there, they simply tailor hotel deals and/or prices based on this information.
Here is how they do it:
- Tracking Your Cookies—Cookies are responsible for storing your browsing history. Let’s say you visit a comparison site to know about the different hotel and travel deals in a certain location. Your browser’s cookies will automatically store this information, enabling comparison and hotel sites to detect your search preferences. This is why you might feel stalked after searching for “vacation in Berlin” and suddenly seeing ads everywhere for hotels, flights, cars, and restaurants in Berlin. It’s called remarketing and it is one of marketers’ most clever ways to connect with consumers who already have exhibited the intention to buy. If a travel company notices that you are searching for hotels repeatedly, they know your chances of booking a hotel are high, so they will increase the price of all available hotels.
- Using Your IP Address—Also known as Internet Protocol, your IP is proven to be the easiest way to detect your location. And yes, travel sites know this. Depending on where you are located, these websites are able to present you with different hotel prices.
- Mobile Tracking—Remember that GPS feature on your smartphone? Well, it turns out it can pinpoint your location. So once you start browsing travel websites, your mobile device will feature different prices depending on the location.
- Tracking Your WiFi—If you allow websites permission, then expect your location to be detected via WiFi.
Why does any of this matter? Because if you have the ability to stop these websites from tracking your online activity or location, you can easily can manage to change the prices offered.
The question now is this: “How are you going to do this?”
How Can a VPN Help You Save Money On Hotels?
We already know that travel companies (e.g. hotels, travel discount sites, etc.) usually provide you with deals and/or quotes depending on where you are located, browsing habits, and even the local currency. In some cases, you can see different prices for the same hotel on the same dates depending on where you searched for it.
Also known as a Virtual Private Network, a VPN can change your IP address to a different one depending on the server you are connected to. It also adds encryption and gives you a much better and more secure internet connection. More importantly, it gives you the ability to browse the internet anonymously and from various geo locations.
Through a VPN, it is quite possible for you to find better deals and save hundreds of dollars on hotel bookings. Be sure to compare different VPN services before choosing the best VPN for your needs.
Putting That To The Test
If you go on some of the leading hotel reservation sites like booking.com or hotels.com, you can play around with a VPN and find some deals—though it’s not necessarily a sure thing.
We went hunting for bargains on a 2-night stay in central Chicago in the middle of the week. We tried a number of different VPN server locations - United States, India, Japan, and Ukraine - to see if any of the prices changed, and by and large we were out of luck. On booking.com, we found that regardless of which location we set our VPN to, we still had the exact same number of hotels available in the same $56 to $160 range.
We did have luck though, when we changed our server location to Japan. We looked at the “top picks”, and found big savings on a prestige Chicago hotel, the Congress Plaza Hotel.
In our non-VPN search, a 2-night stay at the hotel was listed as costing $268.
While with the Japan server-based VPN, the same 2-night stay cost $241 - a savings of $27. That’s no small thing, especially if you’re booking for a longer stay.
By and large though, when it comes to saving money on a hotel by using a VPN, it’s similar to saving money on airline tickets. The VPN can help you save some money, but your best bet—if you’re flexible—is to play around with the dates, the location, and the services you need.
How Can You Save Money On Hotel Bookings Using a VPN?
Using a VPN to save money on a hotel booking is a no-brainer. It is a feat that you can easily master in a single sitting, by following a few simple steps:
- Start by clearing your cookies on your go-to browser.
- Connect to a VPN server in a different city, state, or country.
- Open a private or incognito browser window, so you can start shopping for hotel deals.
- Repeat this process until you find the best one.
It is worth noting that you need to perform a couple of searches to find a discount on hotel deals with a VPN. And to make a clear comparison, do some searching without the VPN. This guarantees that you are indeed getting the best price.
Is it legal?
With this incredible savings you might be asking yourself if this is legal. Fortunately, there are no legal implications to using a VPN to book a hotel, and comparison sites actually do not care if you do. Yes, that is right—they have no problems with you using a VPN. At the end of the day, as long as you book through them they are happy campers.
So if you are looking for a surefire way to save money on your next hotel booking, remember that you may be able to save some serious money by hiding your location using a VPN.