Those Irresistible Price Alerts: ‘HOT!! Chicago to Barcelona, Spain for Only $272’

CruiseWatch.com, a cruise search site, sends free price alerts to registered users. The site allows you to search for a cruise then set a price alert tailored to price drops and specific cabin types, such as interior or balcony rooms. Users can also set a maximum budget to see if or when a cruise falls into that range.

The Germany-based service is tailored to American travelers because they are the biggest market in cruising, according to its chief executive Markus Stumpe. While it doesn’t sell cruises — bookings are handled by travel agency partners — the site offers free advice and strategies for saving money, including how to cancel and rebook if a cruise price drops more than the value of a cancellation fee. According to the company, cruise fares tend to drop around 100 days before sailing and users report typical savings of around $300.

Hotel room prices fluctuate less than flights, but the app Pruvo offers the assurance that if a rate drops after you’ve booked it, you’ll know about it and can rebook. Once users share an existing reservation with Pruvo, it tracks your hotel reservation and if a better rate comes along for the same hotel, on the same date, in the same room category, it contacts you. As long as the booking lies outside of the penalty window for cancellations, the service tells users how to cancel their reservation and make a new one at the lower price.

According to Pruvo, hotel prices drop about 40 percent of the time after booking — on average 14 percent of the original booking price. Most drops are a result of competition between online travel agencies cutting their booking commissions, according to Doron Nadivi, the chief commercial officer of Pruvo. The service is free; the company makes money through commissions from its hotel and travel agency partners.

Last summer, Google.com/travel enhanced its free hotel search analyses. It began offering price insights on hotels searched on a mobile platform that lets searchers know if a price is low, high or typical; indicates whether prices are trending up, down or holding; and compares an individual hotel to similar hotels nearby.

In a recent search for hotels in New York City in October, I got a best rate of $132 a night for the Pod 51 Hotel in Manhattan, indicating it was a “deal” at 21 percent less than usual. It also showed rates at “similar hotels nearby,” including the Vanderbilt YMCA at $100 and the Fifty Hotel & Suites by Affinia at $197. Clicking on its “price insights” tab, I got more data; Google called the rate low, with typical rates running $155 to $297, and displayed a graph showing rate fluctuations for the past month.

With such searches for hotels in a city over specific dates, Google and Kayak will allow you to activate a hotel price alert that follows rates in the destination.

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