By Terry Trucco
New York in springtime – it’s lots better than New York in January, and hotel rates reflect this. What better time to unveil a new online booking site promising low prices?
Tingo purports to offer that elusive but delectable commodity – the sure thing.
You book your room at the price listed on Tingo’s jazzy red, white and blue site. But hotel prices rise and fall like ocean waves or elevators and can change repeatedly during a week (or day). If the price drops before you check in, the site automatically rebooks the same room at the lower price. And if the price goes up, you’re locked in at the rate you booked originally.
Just how much do hotels change their prices during the life of a reservation? A lot, according to stats provided by Tingo. During the month of February, prices dropped an average of $46 at 218 New York hotels the company followed. More specifically, a night at the Casablanca reserved at $499 on January 27th dropped to $365 by the time the hypothetical party checked in on February 14.
How do Tingo’s base prices compare with those offered by hotels? We did a random search for hotel rooms in New York for the weekend of May 4 to 6. Tingo’s price was identical to that offered at the Yotel ($339 a night) and at $428, lower than at the Sherry Netherland (but the hotel’s $494 rate included two complimentary bathrobes). Hmm. But at $277, Tingo was way cheaper than the $359 that popped up on the Hotel Belleclaire site.
The company promises to e-mail you each time the price drops and will refund whatever you’re owed to your credit card a few days after you check out.
Caveat: only hotels labeled Money Back! are in play (the Warwick, listed on the Tingo site, doesn’t come with the deal – and Tingo’s $335 a night price was higher than the $284.75 we found on the Warwick’s site if you prepay).
Still, Tingo looks promising – and fun. And as part of Smarter Travel Media, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, it’s got cred. It’s plugged into rooms all over the world. We can’t imagine hotels will like it much, but they must know what they’re getting into when they sign on.
And the name is definitely intriguing. It means to wet or moisten in Latin, but we think it was chosen because someone just liked how it sounded. Bingo.