So…You may have wondered while reading the blog how we pulled off some of this stuff. Fair Question.
While I’d like to think that Alyce and I have both worked very hard to set ourselves up for the future, there is no way we could have afforded this vacation if paying anywhere near retail prices for a lot of what we did. Hell, the one-way flight from New Orleans to Hong Kong in first class on Cathay Pacific would have cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 alone.
So what did we pay for that flight? I don’t know exactly, but it was around $50 – basically a small booking fee and some taxes. The rest was covered by frequent flyer miles. But wait – neither of us are road warriors, so where could we get so many miles from? Credit Card sign up bonuses.
Credit card sign ups were one of the major tricks we used, but it was just one of several.
To get good hotel rates, I used a technique of matching the hotels advertised rate to the best available rate plus some further discount, aka best rate guarantee.
Just about every major chain has a best rate guarantee policy. Some are better than others. The idea is to convince you to book using the hotel’s website – as opposed to something like Travelocity to whom the hotel would have to pay a 20%+ commission rate. By guaranteeing the best rate, you don’t need to look any further.
To give some teeth to this guarantee, the chain will add some incentive like not only matching the better rate, but beating it by 20% or giving you one night free. This may not sound like too much, but I frequently saved over 50% off the hotels best available rate.
Still, we were staying in Diplomat suites and having club access/free drinks/breakfast/etc.; best rate guarantee policies only apply to the base level room. This is where hotel loyalty program frequent guest status comes in to play.
That last thing isn’t really a trick; it is plus of hotel frequent guests programs. Basically, after you have stayed at a hotel for a number of nights throughout the year, you obtain elite status with that chain. Status has many benefits – upgrades, free breakfasts, free internet, club access, guaranteed availability, etc.
That is just the very basics. I’ll be posting on each topic in detail in the near future. I plan to hit:
Credit Card Sign Ups (including discussion on credit score)
Frequent flyer miles and flight booking tips
Hotel points and hotel booking tips
Elite status basics
An Example: A trip in business class to the Maldives