Are Closed user groups the only way to find travel discounts?

Are you familiar with closed user groups within the travel industry and how they help consumers find the best online discounts possible? These groups originated in the telecom industry and referred to a simple platform which allowed paying subscribers the opportunity to make free calls within the group. Essentially, the very same tactic can still be found within that industry through a service in which telecom operators offer free calls to members on the same network.

Closed User Groups within the Travel Industry

Closed User Groups in the travel industry were the only way to find online travel discounts prior to the internet. Hotels Etc and a number of other travel membership clubs were inundated with applications and requests at the time from consumers who want to pay less for their travel needs. In a similar fashion to the above mentioned telecom companies, Hotels Etc offered their subscribing members the opportunity to avail of huge discounts within a closed user group. Hotels Etc negotiated the discount – their members saved money.

Closed User groups

But why are these travel membership clubs suddenly so important?

Travel clubs have always been important but the arrival of the online world and search booking engines in particular meant it was easy for consumers to find the best travel deals without them. But history does repeat itself in every market and with the introduction of a new law called rate parity, we are now seeing the re-emergence of travel membership clubs.

You see, the law of rate parity now restricts traditional booking engines from offering genuine discounts or value to their customers. Stipulating that every booking engine, whether this is Orbitz, Expedia or anything similar, must display the same cost across all channels of distribution which effectively means they cannot advertise the heavily discounted prices we have seen in the past.

Hotels Etc and the ease of booking

Hugely popular in the early 1990’s, finding discounts with a travel club is really a straight forward process. Having negotiated the best discounts direct with the supplier, travel clubs then offer these heavily discounted vacations or travel services to their members in return for a small subscription. And the best part of this system? Closed user groups are exempt from the laws of rate parity and they are not restricted in any way from passing these discounts on to their customers.

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As mentioned, these travel clubs are re-emerging and in contrast to the very beginning of online booking, they now offer all of the perks (and more) of a traditional booking engine. Fast and straight forward, accessing the best online discounts with a travel club could not be easier.

Morale of the story: For many years, travel booking engines led the charge in terms of finding the best prices for hotels and vacations in particular but recent laws have restricted these traditional booking engines from providing any real value. If you want genuine value, travel club membership is now the only real option to find the best online discounts.

Packing for a Caribbean Vacation

You’ve booked the flights, you’ve got a place to stay (thanks to those sweet hotel discounts you found online), and now all that stands in front of you and laying on the beach on your soon-to-be-fabulous Caribbean vacation is the dreaded thing we all try to put off as long as possible — packing. But, don’t worry too much about it, getting everything together and shoved into those old bags you still haven’t replaced won’t be nearly as hard as you might think. So take a breath, close your eyes, imagine yourself snorkeling with all kinds of different magical-looking fish, and let’s do this.

Packing for a Caribbean Vacation

Old bags with CAMERA

No Passport Needed

There are some interesting things you need to know about getting into the Caribbean as far as passports and visas go. First off, if you’re American and a full-fledged U.S. citizen, you don’t need to have a passport if you’re flying into Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes the trifecta of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix — the others require you to have more than basic U.S. IDs (driver’s license, etc.). If you’re hopping on a cruise, you can actually visit more of the islands without a passport, but be sure to double-check where you’re going before assuming you’re all good.

Caribbean Weather

Another important thing to thing to do before you start packing is familiarizing yourself with the weather happening for wherever and whenever you’re traveling in the Caribbean. There’s not a lot of major differences between the temperatures from one to the other and the average temperatures are around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit most days, but depending on the month you’re traveling you might have more or less rain, which is a good to know. Brief showers happen nearly every day on most of the islands, too but not enough to pack any legit rain gear.

Vacation discount

Packing Light

It’s easier said than done, but thanks to the consistently hot climate, the Caribbean is a place where less is more. In fact, many people who are traveling for a week or less easily get away with packing a couple of carry-ons, wearing a light jacket, and keeping it simple. Depending on your needs (I know, shoes)  and length of stay you could easily get away with not checking any bags, which would also save you a lot of hassle and potential delays if you’re flying.

Your Itinerary Determines Your Needs

Are you planning on doing some hiking? You’ll need some active clothes and a pair of good rubber-soled shoes that can give you the support you need. Are you just going to lounge on the beach all day and drink cocktails? You can probably get away with packing not much more than a couple of swimsuit options, flip-flops, and one or two pairs of shorts or dresses to wear when you’re not listening to the waves. There’s no one perfect list for this since each trip is unique, but think through what you’ll be spending your time doing and pack accordingly.

Toiletries

Your toiletry needs will pretty much be the same, but you might want to throw in some extra sunscreen, lip balm, or aloe/lotion depending on your plans to get out into the wild or your skin tone. It’s going to be hot and sunny most of the time, so ease into it and remember, you can always get more sun the next day, but it’s hard to deal with a really bad sunburn.

Gadgets

Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to pack in your cameras, selfie-sticks, GoPros, Kindles, or any other electronics that you feel like you can’t live without. You’ll probably want to keep the phone off as much as possible, but it’s your Caribbean vacation, not mine, so you can do whatever you want.

Is Punta Cana worthy of the award for Top Caribbean Destination?

Punta Cana was recently named the top Caribbean destination in Trip Advisor’s “Travelers choice awards”. This award was based on a number of factors but ultimately, it relied on visitor reviews of the period of one year. But how did this happen and why is Punta Cana supposedly the best destination in the Caribbean for a vacation?

Is Punta Cana worthy of the award for Top Caribbean Destination?

Caribbean

Located in the very east of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana finds itself on white powder sands right next to a pristine ocean. Stretching for more than a hundred miles along the coast, the resort is hugely popular and has enough options to cater toward every budget, big and small. Whether you want a luxury hotel, a quiet guesthouse or a villa complete with infinity pool, you can find it here next to a plethora of attractions.

I guess there must also be a reason why so many people decide to get married here or choose it as a honeymoon destination? And yes there is, for it is here you will find many spa treatment center, enjoyable adventure activities, incredible restaurants and lively nightlife to top it all off. Indeed, Punta Cana is a Caribbean destination which does not seem to be lacking in any area and even the convenience of taking a trip here is inviting.

Situated a short twenty minute from the airport, the resorts require minimal travel time and with more than thirty countries flying to the region, it is always easy to get there in the first place. As mentioned above, another highlight of the resort is the food and it is common for each hotel to have its very own world class restaurant. If you decide to go all inclusive, this will obviously mean there are no excuses for sampling everything on offer but if you wish for a little more variety, it also means you can stop into any of the other resorts for something different.

Sunset

Options in Punta Cana

And then there are the resorts themselves; Dreams, Barcelo, Now, Iberostar, Excellence and more, there are so many accommodation choices and when you take advantage of hotel discounts, there is always amazing value to coincide. In fact, where else can you find rates this affordable in the Caribbean for luxury hotels? No wonder it was voted the best Caribbean destination in the awards for Trip Advisor.

That said, the decision is yours but as always we highly recommend checking out our hotel discounts to make sure you are getting the best price and to save you from needlessly spending more than you should be on your up coming vacation.

You can activate your free trial on Hotels Etc by clicking here and star finding out just how much you can save for a vacation in Punta Cana.

Las Vegas or Orlando? The best Vacation special offer in 2016

As if anyone needs another reason to take a Las Vegas vacation or visit the sunny home of Disney and co. Except for arguments sake, let’s just say you are having a hard time getting some money together, that you are unsure of where to go exactly or hesitant about using up some precious vacation leave; Hotels Etc. are here with the best vacation special offer in 2016 to rid you of any procrastination and help you decide on just taking that vacation regardless of what else is going on.

Yes, the king of hotel discount North America has just announced the most incredible special offers which will take their loyal travel club members on a once in a lifetime adventure for just $199. Lasting 4 days and offering every single bit of value that any other trip to Vegas or Orlando promises, these 4 day packages can be extended to 7 days for $100 extra or be taken just as they come. You want to know the best thing about it? There’s no catch, you simply sign up with your contact details here and start looking forward to an incredible break from the norm.

Orlando

These much sought after travel hubs need no introduction either, whether you take the kids with you or just want to get away for a few days with a partner, there are so many attractions and things to do in Orlando and Las Vegas. In fact, it’s almost always the case that you need to choose which attractions to miss out on when time is short but then, as mentioned above, you can always avail of a few days extra to enjoy the amenities.

We wrote earlier this week about the special vacation offer for Mexico and as you can see, the same great value applies to more than just the sunny destination down south. In this sense, what more reasons do you need not to go on vacation? With costs at rock bottom and incredible destinations all included in the packages, there really is no need to wait around any longer wondering if you deserve a break from work or what many of us know as civilization.

In case you might be wondering, the process is also as simple as could be and all we require to start getting your dream vacation booked is some contact details. With that said, you should jump over to the special offer page now to take a closer look at these great deals and make sure you are not imagining the prices we listed above.

One last thing people, we are proud to be helping millions of members from all over North America for the past 20 years and we have no plans to stop providing the best hotel discounts and more anytime soon, so get signed up, feel at home and start looking forward to finding even more of the best online travel deals in the future.

Get your dream vacation now!

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Vacation with a savings – Hotels Etc.

Planning your summer vacation can be very time consuming when searching for the best vacation savings. This is why travel clubs are making a strong comeback.

Source: Vacation with a savings – Hotels Etc.

Boston: The perfect travel destination with great attractions

Often overshadowed by the popularity of it’s neighbor, Boston may not have the same glitz and glamor to offer as New York City but it most certainly makes up for it with affordable hotels and interesting things to do. Whether you have already visited the “Big Apple” and just looking for a new travel destination in the US or searching for a great place to use your hotel discounts, Boston is an incredible city infused with a wide variety of attractions.

Here are 5 things to do in Boston to help you enjoy that next vacation:

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Visit Historic Fenway Park and catch a Red Sox Game

Fenway park is the oldest park in the major leagues and one of the most storied as well! See the famous “green monster” wall in left field, grab some beers and a few hot dogs, sing along to “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning and watch the hometown Sox as they compete for a division crown this season. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s plenty of bars and restaurants around the stadium for pre-game and post-game fun.

The South End Open Market

One of the New England’s best and most popular open markets, the South End Open Market runs on Sundays, May through October and features upwards of 20 of Boston’s local food trucks, locally grown produce, flowers, and gourmet specialty foods as well as locally made crafts, jewelry, clothing, and artwork. The South End Open Market has been featured in publications such as “People,” “Cooking Light,” and “National Geographic Travel” and is consistently ranked as one of the top farmer’s markets in the United States.

Boston Harbor

Historic Boston Harbor

One of the birthplaces of the American Revolution, historic Boston harbor boasts a wide variety of shops, seafood restaurants, sightseeing tours, and more. Take in a harbor cruise and soak up some sun and surf or visit the historic Tea Party museum and soak up some history. The USS Constitution Museum is docked in the harbor as well and offers visitors the chance to board historic “Old Ironsides” and step back through history. In addition to the museums, tours, and other doings, a variety of pubs and beer garden’s keep the harbor aglow with life in the evening as well.

Take in a Soccer Match

Boston is a great sports town but beyond the Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Pats, the Copa America Centenario is coming to the Patriot’s Gillette stadium in June. See Chile vs. Bolivia on June 10th or Brazil vs Peru on June 12th. A third match is scheduled ofr June 13th with the participants unknown pending the outcome of other matches. Boston meets the world’s biggest stars on the turf of one of its most famous and storied stadiums. Don’t miss a chance to watch the game as you’ve never seen it before. While there, tour the Patriot’s Hall of Fame or buy tickets for an upcoming concert, summer shows include: Coldplay, Guns and Roses, as well as Beyoncé.
The New England Aquarium

One of the largest and biggest tourist attractions in the city, the New England Aquarium is not only a renowned leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation, it’s also one of the busiest aquariums in the United States. With dozens of exhibits featuring thousands of sea creatures from all over the world (sea lions, octopi, penguins, sharks, and more!) the aquarium provides guided and unguided tours daily as well as classes and special exhibits year round. Being conveniently located near the waterfront also means you’re never too far from great shopping, restaurants and nightlife as well.

You can find movie theater discounts as well as hotel discounts and more on Hotels Etc to make a Boston vacation even more affordable.

Wondering which cruise ship to choose for your vacation?

Are you considering a last minute cruise vacation? Or maybe planning ahead? Cruises are amazing value and most especially if you use cruise discounts, but which one is for you and how to decide on the best option?

The following are 5 examples of the best options on which to utilize your cruise discounts and for who they are most suited:

Princess Cruises

Rekindling romance, celebrating an anniversary, or just looking for a quiet getaway for two has always been the hallmark of Princess Cruises’ line. Their fleets offer a higher percentage than average of suites and mini-suites with amenities such as romantic balcony dining for two, mini-bars, upgraded bathrooms, and laundry services for that pampered feel. Deluxe dining, couples spa retreats, and private lounges are just some of the perks Princess has to offer, not to mention the price if you use cruise discounts. Cruises depart often from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and New York with destinations such as St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Kitts, The Bahamas, Aruba, and more.

Disney Cruises

For families it’s hard to beat a Disney cruise. As you can imagine, this cruise line caters to kids and families with Disney themed parties, games, and even a water park. Disney characters wander the decks taking photographs and interacting the children and families alike and there’s even classes, musicals, and other fun activities such as princess tea parties. While all this may sound tiring to the big people you can rest assured that mom and dad can also enjoy a few nightclubs, restaurants, and spa treatments while the kids are at play. Departs from New York, Miami, and Galveston Texas with destinations in The Bahamas, St. Kitts, Antigua, Mexico, and the Cayman British Virgin Islands.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s namesake Caribbean cruises are among the best on the sea for overall quality and affordability. With literally hundreds of 3, 4, and 5 night or more cruises to destinations such as Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and more the Royal Caribbean fleet boasts innovative designs, amenities, and activities such as rock-climbing, zip-lining, flight simulators, aqua theaters, and more! A variety of restaurants, shopping options, and bars also liven up the trip. The newest ship, Harmony of the Seas, even features a water park! Royal Caribbean has a little something for everyone, catering to families and friends as well as couples.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

If you’re looking to strike it out on your own look no further than Norwegian Cruise-line’s “Norwegian Epic” which offers studio-style cabins priced affordably for solo travelers. Other ships in the fleet also include solo lodgings as well as singles events, meeting lounges, nightclubs, and more. Accommodations are snug (100 square foot cabins and that’s including the bed) but if you don’t mind the tight fit it’s hard to beat the price. With an endless supply of bars, night clubs, karaoke, and even a bowling alley- it’s hard to imagine you’ll spend too much time in your cabin anyway! Departs from New York, Boston, and Florida with cruise destinations in The Bahamas, Bermuda, and Mexico.

Carnival

Carnival cruises have long been known as affordable fun cruises for the whole family. With 25 ships in the fleet and destinations all over the world Carnival has not forgotten it’s humble beginnings in the Caribbean. With home ports in Florida, Carnival’s Carribbean destinations are almost exclusively Eastern Mexico and The Bahamas. The fleet boasts children’s activities such as water slides, Imax theaters, and live entertainment while mom and dad can enjoy casino gambling, a variety of bars and restaurants, or “dive-in” movies, a poolside cinematic experience under the stars.

Check out Hotels Etc for the best cruise discounts on all of the above.