Through all of my travels, I’ve experienced vastly different cultures and customs. No matter where I’ve landed, however, I have found that traveling can be expensive. From airfare to souvenirs, visiting other parts of the world puts a ton of pressure on your wallet. That’s why I’m constantly looking for the newest way to be frugal during travel.
Recently, I’ve heard some good things about a new website that offers special discounts on hotel bookings called TravelPony (http://www.travelpony.com/). It’s been receiving quite a bit of buzz from some fellow travel writers, so I decided to check it out myself while shopping for my upcoming vacation in New York.
What is TravelPony?
TravelPony is a hotel booking website that claims to offer special deals on hotels to “social travelers”. By offering discounts on hotel rooms, they believe that they can get enough word-of-mouth buzz on Facebook and Twitter to drive adoption.
This idea is pretty intriguing to me, especially considering some online travel agencies (OTAs) are spending more than $1 Billion a year on ads. I definitely believe that social is a big deal. Just take a look around sometime when you’re in public. More and more people are consumed by their smartphones. However, I wasn’t yet convinced. Let’s see just what kind of deals they’re talking about.
TravelPony in Action
So I visited travelpony.com hoping to score a decent hotel in Manhattan at a reasonable price. I started to search when I encountered a prompt for me to sign up. According to their website, they “offer exclusive pricing that makes other travel sites jealous”. I wasn’t sure what this meant. It looked like a roadblock to me.
Visiting the FAQs, TravelPony explained that their rates are well below market-prices, so they were only allowed to offer them to members. So, I decided to go ahead and sign up. It was pretty quick via the Facebook login, but you can also sign up using just your email address.
Finally, I was able to complete my search.
The search populated a number of options similar to what I would see at Booking.com or any of the other popular sites. However, there was one thing that was much different. At the top of the page, there was a note that said, “Take 10-45% Off Select* Hotels Today! Use promo code TPSAVINGS at checkout”. Also, there was a discount amount next to each hotel in bright red.
I scrolled through the results and was pleasantly surprised to find a ton of good options. I found the Renaissance Hotel 57 (at 30% off) and was told that I would receive $172.20 off my booking at the checkout page. Are you kidding me? That’s a steal.
I noticed that TravelPony offered a price comparison as well, which is a nifty tool when making sure that you got the best deal possible. They showed the prices of many of the big travel companies, including Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotels.com. Cynical me, I decided to double-check these quotes to make sure that they were accurate. They were (it looks like they were all rounded down by less than $1 by TravelPony).
So you’re telling me that I can get a 4-star property for $1? I’m sold! Let’s do this.
The booking process was pretty straight-forward except for one thing that was new: the social component. TravelPony asks you to connect one of your social networks and write a post to your account in exchange for the discount. This is how they can offer such great discounts. However, if you do not have a social network, there is another option called the “Pony Promise”, which basically says that you’ll tell your friends about your TravelPony deal in person or by some other means of communication. I decided to go with Facebook and Twitter since $170 off is definitely worth a little social love.
Confirmation and Conclusion
After completing my booking, I received a confirmation email within a few minutes. I had just booked a 4-star property in Manhattan for just over $200 a night. I called the hotel a couple days later just to make sure that this was real. The front desk staff was kind enough to confirm my reservation as well. That. Just. Happened.
I have to admit that I was skeptical going into this review. I’m the first one to quote the old adage “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” However, in this case, what TravelPony is attempting to do makes a ton of sense. Give your customers great discounts and let them advertise for you. That’s social marketing at its finest. So, next time you’re booking a trip, give TravelPony.com a look. It could save you hundreds.