Last-minute Hotel Booking Apps

When you find yourself away from home with no accommodation booked, how do you go about finding a room? Do you jump on the web? Start making phone calls, or walk into a reasonable-looking hotel and start negotiating on rate??

In the USA, travel search provider Hipmunk is now offering metasearch (metasearch is the ability to search deals from a range of providers at the same time) on same-day hotel bookings, via iPhone and Android smartphone apps. The Hipmunk app draws information from a massive range of mobile-specific and general deal listings to find the “best” rate for that night.

The issue for Australia is that we don’t have Hipmunk or most of the other leading same-day booking apps available to us.Many online booking providers, such as Wotif and Hotels.com, offer smartphone apps but they mirror the content of their main sites rather than offering app-specific or dedicated same-day deals.

In a mock search for a hotel in Sydney, I compared various websites, apps and same-day booking apps and found very few variations in prices. The same Sydney based hotels listed in my results feed at exactly the same price with each new search -  no bargains anywhere. One app: Hotel Quickly, opened its bookings at noon but claimed to be “booked out” of Sydney rooms when I checked at 1.10pm.

The metasearch provider Kayak was looking like a good option (apart from its rates being in US dollars), until I clicked to book and the price went up more than 15 per cent once fees and taxes were added. I hoped to have more luck with the “local” same-day deal provider Stay Today, which opened in Australia and New Zealand just over a year ago – but it came up with only two hotel options.

My next plan was to go with Hotels Combined, which is a leading metasearch engine that claims to compare prices from hundreds of websites. The company has a smartphone app that is easy to use, with simple filters for star rating, price, facilities and other factors, but failed to come up with the best available price on one of the hotels I checked. By the time I had done all that, my phone was cluttered with apps, I’d lost a few hours and I had failed to find a one-stop solution.

To save time my advice is to pick one or two booking sites and download their (free) apps so you can use them if you need to make a booking on the go.

You could also try the tried and tested method of walking into a hotel and asking what price they can do on a room that night. Negotiating in person is not for everyone but it has its benefits, one of which is that the hotel can offer you a discount without officially dropping its rates or being seen to discount.

Good luck and happy travels!

How to Pitch a BlackWolf Turbo Tent

BlackWolf’s Turbo Tent is a fantastic tent;  offering  a large amount of space with a relatively quick set up time. When it’s not in use it packs down to a compact size making it easy to transport and store.
Here are a few  tips to help you get the best out of your tent:

1. Pegging out the tent

  • After pulling the tent out of its bag, unfold the legs and lock the knuckles into place.
  • Before pushing the tent up, peg it out firmly. These tents do not stand up easily on their own as they are prone to twisting around putting a lot of pressure on the top pole connection.
  • Once you’ve popped the tent up, you may need to peg the tent out a little tighter.

2. Using the guy ropes

 As with any tent, the guy ropes will need to be pegged out tightly to hold the frame securely. In windy conditions, the tent may twist and bend putting unnatural pressure on the pole knuckles and joints. By putting the guy ropes out correctly, the tent will not be allowed to twist around, giving it the best chance to stand up to windy conditions.

3. Attaching the Fly

 As mentioned above, putting the guy ropes out is very important. The Blackwolf Turbo tents only have guy ropes attached to the fly. This means that the fly almost always has to be put on in order to secure the tent. In fair conditions, you may get away with not putting the fly on, in which case you may like to tie some ropes to the frame and make your own guy ropes just in case the wind picks up during the night.

4. Using the awning

 The small awning at the front of these tents does not provide much shelter in stormy conditions. It also does not have the option of being zipped down and secured. If it’s raining, you will need to drop one of the awning poles lower than the other to avoid water pooling on top of the awning.

5. Additions to improve your awning space

 If possible, getting a base camp fly or super fly is a great advantage. This means that in good conditions you can quickly use the original fly for a quick set up. Alternatively, in stormy conditions you have a fly that will give you a completely enclosed front room allowing you to escape from the elements. However, if you choose to use this it will take a little bit longer to set up.

6. Get an extra Bag

 Unfortunately, these tents can be a bit fiddly to get back into their bags. If possible, purchase another large good quality canvas bag that you can put the fly and the poles/pegs into. This not only makes it easier to get everything into the bag, but as you will have two smaller and lighter parcels it makes it easier to carry.

7. Use extra straps

After collapsing the poles when packing up the tent, you will need to lay the tent down on the ground and roll it up. The strap that has been provided, to stop the tent from unravelling, is not the greatest option. If possible, purchase a couple of good quality surf board straps to wrap tightly around the tent. This will hold the tent together and pull it all in smaller to make it a lot easier to put back into its bag.

8. Ground sheet

Even though these tents come with a very strong floor, it’s a great idea to put a tarp or ground sheet down to protect the floor of the tent. The last thing you want is a sharp stick or rock to puncture your new investment.

BlackWolf Turbo tents are awesome tents, using the tips in this blog will hopefully allow you to get the very best out of Turbo and if you need parts and accessories don’t forget to visit  www.leisuregear.com.au