Nikki McKinnis is disappointed with her recent Hotwire deal.
She played Hotel Roulette — and lost. It’s a game of chance — bidding on mystery lodging with Hotwire. If your bid is accepted, the hotel is revealed. In the end, you might get a great hotel at a fabulous price. Or you might not.
What are Hotwire deals?
Here’s how Hotwire works: First, you select from a class of hotels (between one and four stars). Then you name a price that you’re willing to pay. The big hotel reveal happens if you have placed an acceptable bid.
McKinnis was looking for a bargain when she booked a room for her family in Smyrna, Tenn. She selected a two and a half star property. Hotwire lists Hampton Inn, La Quinta, Holiday Inn Express and Best Western as comparable hotels.
McKinnis’ price request was met. But to her disappointment, her confirmation identified the assigned hotel as the Rodeway Inn. McKinnis immediately reached out to Hotwire with her concerns.
“There is a vast difference between what Hotwire listed and what I received,” McKinnis told Hotwire’s representative. “I am traveling with my children. I would never have selected a hotel listing with exterior entrance rooms due to safety concerns. So I hope something can be done to make this right.”
A Hotwire customer service representative explained that the Rodeway Inn fulfills her request for a two and a half star property. The parent company of Hotwire, Expedia, maintains the star system. The Rodeway Inn is a two and a half star property regardless of the hallway locations.
Hotwire deals are nonrefundable
Hotwire refused to grant the cancellation, saying:
Please be advised that we considered all the information your [sic] provided but we are unable to cancel the reservation.
To best assist our customers during the on-line booking process, Hotwire strives to provide clear instructions and accurate information on our site. We constantly review our hotel partners’ star ratings to ensure we provide the most accurate and up-to-date information. I can assure you Hotwire continually evaluates our hotel star ratings, and by soliciting customer feedback following every stay we adjust our ratings accordingly.
Regardless of a hotel’s star rating, you should expect a clean, private room that comes with housekeeping services. If you encounter a problem during your stay, contact us and we will work directly with the hotel to resolve it. We determine our ratings by:
– Starting with the Expedia star rating.
– Soliciting customer feedback following every stay and adjusting our ratings accordingly.
– Investigating and acting on customer rating concerns.
Contacted the Elliott Advocacy team about this Hotwire deal
Faced with a hotel room she did not want, McKinnis turned to the Elliott Advocacy team.
Hotwire’s response was that the company offered McKinnis a room whose rating is equal to the one requested by her. Their representative added:
For Hot Rate Hotels, we work with hotel suppliers to negotiate low rates for customers and the hotel name and street location are revealed only after a customer completes a booking. These bookings are non-refundable, which is detailed for the customer prior to booking. Should a customer prefer to have more specifics about their room prior to booking (such as interior- vs exterior-facing doors), we also have a retail hotel option (where all hotel property information is provided prior to purchase). Because of this, we are unable to refund Ms. McKinnis’s stay.
Unfortunately, McKinnis learned a painful lesson about hotel pricing. Hopefully, this is one that will educate our readers. If there is a specific request about a hotel room or type, you’ll have to book it the old-fashioned way.
But if you have no specific requests, are looking for a bargain and feel comfortable accepting from a wide range of hotels, Hotwire might be for you.
For McKinnis, however, this Hotwire deal was a bad gamble.