This is a review of Hotel Hustle, the coolest hotel tool ever. Oops, I guess that spoils the review summary.
As I’ll explain in the next couple of weeks, I owe a huge thanks to the Hotel Hustle tool. Without it, I likely would not have many of the hotels I have booked now.
There are a number of dates, and a number of hotels, where award availability stinks. But I get award availability emails and text messages when those awards become available.
This post is about the tool that allows you to set hotel award alerts. While I’m grateful for the help it has provided me, that’s not why I’m writing this. Truth is, this tool has been my secret weapon.
The dates you want aren’t available for award redemption… but you really want them. But you have to book somewhere else because award availability is going elsewhere.
Of course, all award nights are refundable. This means that you keep checking back in once a week, or whenever you remember, and you rarely find what you’re looking for.
And really, what are the odds that when you remember to check, it happens to be when someone else canceled their awards.
It’s a poor use of time, and ultimately, it’s an ineffective way to find award availability.
I search for a specific date with Hotel Hustle, and if there’s no award availability, I simply set an alert.
When it does open back up, I get a text and/or email alert telling me that it is now available.
Like… totally, for real!
And that’s not just how I theorize it will work, I have gotten many texts and emails, where I stop what I’m doing and book.
Well, normally I wait until I get back to the hotel room and book.
Thankfully, so far, every time I’ve made the booking because of this tool.
Every one of the hotels I set an alert for somehow opened up at one point or another. Even with seemingly barren award availability, eventually I got an alert. And like I said, I always got the booking after getting the alert.
I figure there are two main reasons for the rooms consistently opening up.
1) Because the hotel had people cancel before the cancelation deadline.
2) The hotel has the rooms for sale with cash, and they eventually just open them up for awards. Much like airline awards.
Depends on the chain
I will say that my experience largely depends on the chain.
I’ve been doing the IHG thing since 2012, and I’ve noticed award availability always comes up. In the past, I would know this because I would make IHG my home page and check every 30 minutes when I was desperate. But it often worked out.
For example, the Crowne Plaza on Times Square came available the day before New Years Eve.
But now, with Hotel Hustle, it always becomes available. At least with IHG, it never fails, and with even more sparse hotel award availability situations.
However, when I first gave the tool a try, it was with Club Carlson. The Radisson in Austin actually. It was always sold out of basic rooms because the basic room and the standard room were the same thing, but the hotel had a way of limiting award space. It’s a crappy thing with some Club Carlson chains. And it never opened up.
But I’m not counting that example for a few reasons. For example, I was new to the tool, and I didn’t need that hotel to open up since I had another booking, so I probably didn’t pay as much attention.
Plus, I think it really is a Club Carlson thing. Most chains are very good about being at least more even towards award availability and standard rooms.
And I’m telling you, even with the best IHG hotels, they have opened up in my testing.
How it works
I’m going to walk through an example with London on NYE.
1) It’s a hotel award search engine
The “normal” use of this tool is to search for different hotel awards across the different chains in one city. It’s already super cool, because it’s searching for live availability.
You can uncheck the chains that don’t apply to you, or filter by distance and star rating.
I used the sorting to only see IHG and Hyatt, whom I have free nights with.
There’s not a lot available. As you can see Hyatt has no award nights, and of the tons of IHG hotels, very few have award availability.
2) Find hotel –> Click “Create Alert”
I used my browser to search for the “InterContinental” and found the Park Lane hotel I was looking for.
If there is no award availability, it will say “create alert” instead of the points price. In this case, the IC Park Lane has room for sale for cash on IHG.com, but no award rooms. Hopefully those will open up, so let’s click, “Create Alert!”.
3) Alert is set, but click “Manage Alerts”
Now I can manage all my alerts, and see that it is indeed active. This means that I will get email alerts but not text alerts. I rather like the text alerts.
Under the column “SMS Alert?”, click that “x”, and turn it active. This will allow the tool to send you texts for that specific award alert.
4) After booking, make it inactive
After booking, go back to “manage alerts”, and click the “x” to make it inactive. Otherwise you’ll get more alerts.
Pay the $2.99
The free version has 5 free alerts, but doesn’t have text alerts!
It’s $2.99 a month – and then you get 30 alerts.
I signed up when the free version had 15 alerts and I still paid! I knew I wouldn’t have 15 at once, but I knew right away that this tool would save my butt. I wanted to support this tool. The last thing I needed was it shutting down before my big trip because it was under-supported.
Certainly try it out!
If you need more than 5 alerts (like I did end up using), at that point you’ll know it’s worth the $2.99 to snag that much needed hotel award.
I’m not getting paid to say this stuff, and like I said, I’ve unnecessarily paid. And I’m not doing this to support it or say thanks… although, it’s nice.
I’m writing about this tool because it is freakin sweet! And this blog is about how I’m getting all the cool things I’m doing. Without this tool, many of my IHG free nights would have been used somewhere less cool. I rely on this tool, and I thought I would share it with you.