Are you wondering about the state of affairs in New Orleans? Has the “City That Care Forgot” managed to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina? Information on New Orleans recovery can now be easily accessed at the city’s brand new “Recovery Projects Information” site.
It’s been more than 2-1/2 years since the Big Easy was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The massive hurricane, complete with high winds and high waters, hit New Orleans on August, 29, 2005. Protective city levees broke, and the majority of the city was flooded. Luckily, one of New Orleans most popular historic areas, the French Quarter, was spared; that’s where I am headed in a couple of weeks.
According to the Bush administration, it’s expected that it will take a quarter century for New Orleans to fully recover from Katrina. But where tourism is concerned, it’s business as usual. Read on . . .
Your flight cost is only a small part of your vacation travel budget.What about hotel room charges?You might get a cheaper plane ticket because you will stay overnight (especially a Saturday night), but if you don’t get your best price on a hotel room, that hot deal airline ticket may no longer be a bargain.
Bound for the Big Easy!
My husband and I have planned a springtime trip into southern Texas where we’ll be staying for a week.Our destination is 2500 miles away from our home town, so we figured we should do a little more travel while in the South.Then we remembered New Orleans; we hadn’t been there in a long while, and we would like to see how the Big Easy has recovered from Katrina.
We booked all lengths of our flights through Expedia, and got great deals. But while our Texas condo was covered because we traded a week in one of our vacation properties, we needed accommodations in New Orleans.So, a trip back onto the Web was required.
Follow Bill Shatner’s lead – Visit Priceline.com
I had heard a lot about Priceline.com and I am a big fan of William Shatner, the front man in Priceline advertising, so I thought I’d give Priceline a go.
I took Priceline’s quick tutorial which made the search process very understandable and easy.I brought up several options, which all looked good.But I knew hotels in New Orleans are still going at bargain prices, so I thought I’d take advantage of Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price,” feature.
Again this feature was very easy to use: I selected the French Quarter as my area choice, I opted for a 3.5 star hotel (at Priceline’s “good deal” suggestion), and then I offered a price.I got as far as the page requesting a credit card number, with the advisory that stated that if my offer was accepted, my credit card would be charged, and there would be no going back.That’s when I thought I’d do a little more research.I opened another browser window–and I am glad I did.
Open another browser window, or two!
I hit on a site dealing in New Orleans boutique hotels; among them was the Ambassador, the same hotel I had seen on Priceline.com.But the prices were extremely different.While Priceline’s price looked good, the boutique hotel site’s prices were awesome, less than1/2 price.I was just about ready to book when I remembered my other ace-in-the-hole: TripAdvisor.TripAdvisor is a great site for quickly checking out properties before booking.Many other hotel guests post candid reviews of their stays.And in the past, TripAdvisor has saved me from booking into substandard properties; I opened another browser window.
When TripAdvisor came up, I noticed some negative reviews, but there were also several positive reviews.I studied the negatives first and found they were a little one-sided, kind of unfair.So, I pulled up several of the positive reviews.On average, most people were happy staying here, so long as you asked for a 2nd floor room that faced the street, and you didn’t mind having Harrah’s Casino directly across the street. The property was acceptable, so I clicked on further info. TripAdvisor came up with a quote, too—slightly higher than the boutique hotel site’s quote, but quite a bit less than Priceline’s quote.I now had confirmation on a normal good price for this property.
Straight to the horse’s mouth—not such a good deal!
So far, so good.But I could still open another browser window.And so I did.And went straight to the horse’s, er, Ambassador Hotel’s website.I had heard that sometimes better deals can be had by calling the hotel directly—it was NOT the case this time.I was quoted double the rates showing on both TripAdvisor and the boutique hotels web site.Even with an AAA discount, the rate was still nearly double the other quotes.So, if we were going to stay at the Ambassador, for a reasonable price, we had to book at a third party site online.But, it only takes a second to open another browser window; I logged on to Hotels-Rates.com.
One more browser stop to make!
Hotel-Rates.com mirrored the higher rates quoted by the hotel’s reservation clerk, so once more both the boutique hotel site and TripAdvisor were offering the absolute best prices.We finally settled on an entirely different property, a hotel with a higher star rating, and an even better price, relatively speaking. We felt thoroughly confident about our choice, having first done the research to confirm what constituted a good deal.
Bottom line?Pay yourself hundreds of dollars for a few minutes work!
It’s true the whole search took about a ½ hour, but it was so easy, so informative, and so money-saving, especially if you don’t jump at the first great-looking price.Open a few more browser windows and check out a few more web sites.You’ll soon know if your great price is really great, or if it is average, or if it’s downright lousy.
Next time you are planning your vacation, remember that a few more browser windows, a few more searches, a few more minutes can mean a few more dollars—in fact, hundreds of dollars, will remain in your pocket.