🛏 Travel Advice: How to Book a Hotel Online in the Philippines
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Now that the Philippines has the fastest-growing economy in Asia, more and more Filipinos have the discretionary income necessary travel across her 7,100+ islands to experience all the wonderful culture and cuisine from the different regions.
From attending Santo Niño mass during the Ati-atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan, to experiencing 12-hour street parade of the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City in the Visayas, the freedom to navigate around the country doesn’t come without increased financial responsibilities, as you’ll need hotel reservations to extend your travels to tourist attractions and remote provinces where you don’t have family or loved ones.
For many new wanderlusts, this signals the first time they’ll need book a hotel accommodation. With that in mind, we’ve outlined 5 Steps to successfully book a hotel room online!
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1. Start with a Budget
First, you’ll need to identify how much you’re willing to spend on lodging. Chances are, your hotel cost only reflects 20% – 30% of your total trip cost, exclusive of transportation, such as flight, bus or taxi, as well as meals, daily activities, pasalubong, etc.
You can gauge of how much to money to spend based on how much time you plan to spend INSIDE the hotel. Will you be traveling around a lot and just want a room as a base of operation? If you’ll just be there to sleep and shower, then perhaps a mid-scale room with a global brand is not necessary, versus if you’re trip is a family vacation or anniversary.
Finally, be aware that your nightly-rate (the fee that you see online) is exclusive of value-added tax (VAT) and booking fees. These final taxes and fees will be added to the final cost of the hotel room reservation and could range represent an additional 10%-20% of the total price.
|🏆 Pro-Top: Since you can’t escape paying the VAT tax, you can enjoy legitimate savings by booking with online travel agencies that do not charge booking fees, such as Mandaluyong-based Travelbook.ph.|
2. Select Your Payment Method
With regards to credit access, the Philippines does differ greatly from developed economies in that most Filipino’s primary payment methods are cash or check, bank card or remittance. With that in mind, the need for flexible payment options is a necessary consideration when booking hotel rooms online.
The basic question to ask is: can you pay the full amount now to reserve the hotel room, and in doing so, lock-in the nightly-rate; these are more important strategic financial decisions during peak travel season when hotels within a single area can be complete booked or extremely expensive due to demand. Or, do you need to buy yourself time to receive every last paycheck before your trip?
Unfortunately, most global booking sites, such as Agoda or Hotels.com.ph, only offer the ability to hold a reservation with a credit card payment. This is not always the case, as you can sometimes find hotel properties on these sites that will allow you to reserve online yet pay upon check-in.
Philippine online travel agency Travelbook.ph understand these challenges for Filipinos and have worked exclusively with 2,700+ local hotels in the Philippines to offer flexible ‘book now, pay upon check-in’ payment options – meaning no credit card is needed!
3. Identify Room Type & Amenities
Are you traveling alone, or are additional people staying with you? Do you need food available 24-hours?
Many local hotels operated by Filipinos (versus the large global brands), offer different category of room types within the same hotel, ranging from shared dormitory (or hostel) rooms, to family suites, and the traditional single- and double occupant rooms and suites. If you’re a solo traveler or backpacker, you can certainly elect to stay in these dormitories with shared bathroom facilities as affordable options to save during your trip. At the same time, if you’re a multi-generational family, a family suite or two rooms would meet your needs.
During your stay, here are the top amenities that you should consider:
• Meal Included – Although Filipinos are accustomed to meals included rooms, please note that this is not a standard amenity.
• Free Wi-fi Access – Globe, Smart, etc. data plans are always spotty, especially in the province, so be sure to check ahead if wi-fi internet is free and available.
• Air Conditioning – Filipinos are accustomed to meals included. This could include local meals.
• Safe Deposit Box – If you plan to travel with expensive tech gadgets or irreplaceable jewelry, you want to make sure your hotel room will have a safe deposit box with a passcode or lock.
4. Choose Your Location
Next, choose a location that is close to the majority of your activities, so you don’t spend a lot on transportation. For example, if you’re on a business trip, you’ll want to stay closer to your meetings versus the stress of hailing a taxi and missing late to a conference or meeting. Usually, there is only a handful of main streets that house the majority of the hotels. However, if you’re flexible, you can sometimes you can score a bargain at hotels nearby the location you want to be.
5. Finalize Your Travel Dates
The last part to identifying all the “deal-breaker” considerations for your hotel stay, is to finalize your travel dates so you can lock in the best nightly-rates. Be sure to verify your check-in date 2-3 times, to make sure you are arriving on the correct calendar day of the week. In general, check-in times for new guests are in the early afternoon between 1PM-3PM, meaning, you will not be able to get in your room until the previous guest has checked out and the maid services has cleaned your room.
It’s possible to arrive earlier and see if you can check-in early, but even if your request is turned away, you can still drop off your bags with the front desk.
Now that you’ve decided on your budget, amenities, payment method and travel dates, you’re ready to move on to the fun part, and that’s finding all the hotels eligible to accommodate your hotel stay.
|📝 Note: We have intentionally left this section vague because we will be exploring in greater detail the best ways to review and research hotels for a future article.|
6. Research the Hotel
Similar to the convenience of shopping online for clothing or a newest Android mobile device, you can research and book hotels without having to communicate the hotel directly. With that in mind, Trip Advisor is a great place to start your research. Additionally, many reviews are included by the online travel agencies, provided by people who have already stayed at the hotel.
7. Search for Hotel Deals
Whether you need a budget hotel Tagaytay for a weekend getaway in Cavite, or 4-star luxury room in Makati to celebrate an anniversary, you want to pay as least as possible! Make sure you search for coupon vouchers or last minute promos on deal sites like iPrice.ph, iVoucherCodes.ph, as well as Mango Ave PH, are great way to save with last minute hotel deals.
Currently, online travel agency options to book a hotel online in the Philippines, include global brands Expedia, Agoda, Hotels.com.ph, as well as local online travel agencies, such as Travelbook.ph. You can also book directly with the hotel chains, such as Marriott or Holiday Inn.
|🏆 Pro-Top: According to TripAdvisor’s “Best Time to Book” 2016 Report, in general, Asia prices rise slightly 3-5 weeks out, before seeing the lowest prices within the final two weeks before the travel date.|
8. Download the App or Visit the Website
Finally, download the iPhone or Android mobile app or visit the website of the online travel agency you’ve decided has the best nightly-rate for the hotel you want to book. Be prepared to provide the following information:
• Full Name: – Who is booking the reservation?
• Guest Name: – Who will be checking in? (Important if you reserved the room for someone else).
• Address: – Which e-mail address should the reservation confirmation be sent?
• Check-in/out Date: – What date will you arrive and check out. Check this 2-3 times!
• Payment Method: – How will you be paying for the hotel room?
Congratulations, you’ve just booked your first hotel online! Hopefully, the hotel will meet your travel needs and requirements, and that you saved money doing it.