Regardless of the title, this post is helpful in getting the best possible rates in any hotel, villa, or vacation rental. It is not specific to Phuket or our villas.

While looking for a place to stay can be a chore, the most common and easiest thing to do is to use one of the online resources such as, Agoda, Ctrip, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and HomeAway. These services all provide a large catalog of places to stay and you can narrow down your searches by amount of guests, desired price – really anything.

You may have noticed that some of these services have begun to charge extra fees for the bookings. Some services such as Airbnb have always charged this. HomeAway just began this year. What might not be as obvious to you is that literally all of these services are also charging the hotel or villa owner a significant fee. They all charge at least 6% and many, if not most, charge much more.

Recently, I found an excellent article on the web…

Its ingenious name causes it to come up whenever anyone web searches for “guest service fees”. It is a long article that goes into greater detail than this. It is an interesting read and I suggest that you should at least skim it after reading this blog post.

But the point is to tell you how to get better rates. The following advise works reliably, and it works not just for our villas, but for any other accommodation. So learn it, live it, be it.

The trick is to find the direct web site, phone number, or email address for where you want to stay and book directly with them.

To do this, simply continue to search for a place to stay using your favorite online platform. Maybe even start the booking process so you can see the final price. But before you commit, look for some unique text in the description and search the web for it. You can also search for the pictures as well. (This is described in detail in the article mentioned above.) Probably the most obvious text to search is the name of the place. Often the text descriptions are literally identical to what is on the home web site for the accommodation. I know that the first words in our Airbnb text descriptions are something like “Baan Salawin at The Coolwater”. Search the web for that and you will come to this web site. Now you can book direct at prices that do not include the extra fees. Also, you have access to the phone number and email so you can ask as many questions as you like. You can get a more accurate feel for the place. This is often not possible with the online services. They do all they can to prevent the host and the guest from having direct communication. This is so they can protect and maximize their profit.

I can guarantee you that any rates you get from a direct booking with us will be better than what you get on the other services. And I am almost just as confident that our colleagues with other accommodations will do the same. Both the vendor and the guest get a significant savings. Now to be frank, if a guest tries to nickel and dime me down to extreme levels, I probably don’t want that kind of guest anyway. But I assure you that you will save money and the amounts are significant when you are talking about a $500 per night lodging.

Another strategy is to approach a smaller or local rental agency for villas.

You can find them by googling something like “phuket villa rentals”. You will see a bunch of them there. Many of these agencies are one or two people. They often have personal relationships with the owners of the villas. And because of that, sometimes they offer better prices for the same accommodation. But just as important is that they will monitor everything to make sure you get there ok and your stay is pleasant.

Food for thought.

Pat Styles

I am director of The Coolwater Resort in Phuket, Thailand. However I spent most of my life as a software engineer working for a very large company in Redmond, Washington. Now I live with my wife in beautiful Chiang Mai near the mountains while still dabbling in the computer industry when I have the time.