Traveling means you need to penny-pinch on every opportunity you can. This is why I love hotel and flight apps. Most of these apps let you enjoy members-only discounts, as well as points accrual and discount coupons that you can enjoy on future bookings.
One of such new apps on the market is Traveloka. The app promises an experience that lets you “search and book cheap flight tickets/ hotels in 3 easy steps”: type, search, and click to browse. It also boasts a “what you see is what you pay” system -- no hidden charges whatsoever.
Traveloka has both desktop and mobile versions, but according to its website, users can enjoy bigger discounts on the mobile app. And of course, when discounts are mentioned, I am always quick to try. ALWAYS. #salemonger
Traveloka's interface is pretty straightforward. Once you've downloaded the app, you will be brought to a home page to choose hotels, flights, or a combination of both. The app is intuitive too, conveniently suggesting origins and destinations, plus a nifty calendar for check-in and check-out dates. Its soothing white-and-blue interface is clean and streamlined, without annoying pop-ups, ads, or alerts while booking (or even afterwards).
|You can choose from over 100,000 hotels across the world in the Traveloka App, including B&Bs, homestays, inns, serviced residences, lodges, and pension houses.|
To get started, I downloaded the Traveloka App and registered as a member. Signing up requires one of three easy-peasy ways: entering your email or mobile number, signing up via Facebook, or with a Google account. I chose the last and was a member in one click. You can also send feedback or report a bug at the ready (which, by the way, I did not encounter during my searches).
Compared to other platforms, one advantage I found with Traveloka is that you can readily see prices even if you're not a member, which eliminates the hassle if you're there to simply check on current rates. If you've decided to lock in on that price, simply click the “Book now” button. You will be directed to a registration page, and you can continue booking without going back to square one.
To see if they do offer the cheapest flights and hotels, I typed in a flight from Dumaguete to Cebu. Voila! Immediately, a list of airlines plying that route is populated, starting from the cheapest. I checked with the airlines and the rates match. No hidden charges and booking fees as promised. I also like that I don't have to go back and forth to unclick add-ons. The app lets you add things as you go.
But of course, searching is only half of the deal.
So, to see if the booking process is really one that's geared for “Travel Made Simple” - a benefit outlined on their homepage – I booked the cheapest stay for Larena, Siquijor for a trip in May.
|Surfing on both the Cebu Pacific website and Traveloka App for Dumaguete-Cebu flights for verification. True enough, ticket prices are the same in both -- no hidden charges.|
Here's the 411.
After typing in hotel details, you'll see a list of hotels within and near your desired location. At the bottom, there are clickable tabs for sorting by price and filtering according to price range, facilities, rating, preferences (budget/ luxury), and accommodation type.
The hotel snippets outline main perks such as breakfast and free WiFi availability, a refund clause, and two ratings: one is Traveloka's consumer-based rating and another is for Tripadvisor. I found this convenient, since I got to read guest reviews without opening Tripadvisor on another browser.
|This is basically what you'll see when you select a hotel on the list. Tap on the back button to see the details for other hotels in your chosen area.|
Clicking on a specific hotel shows a complete rundown of must-know stuff: facilities, reviews, a map and the hotel's distance to main attractions, and a detailed description. It's a superb feature to have on something as handy as a smartphone.
But what I love most is their integrated, one-click Google map that shows the exact location of each hotel in the area, along with their respective prices. At once, I was able to decide which facility to book based on both location and price.
Because I want to check if Traveloka really does offer lower pricing for app users (or if it's only a marketing gimmick), I compared the desktop and in-app rates. The result: a P60 discount on the app on a P550+ standard single room!
Aside from such discounts, Traveloka offers regular travel promos and coupon codes on both flights and stays. At the moment, they offer a 50% discount on select international hotels. There's also an additional 35 percent app-only discount on Japan and Singapore hotels (Type in ESCAPE35 on the promo code until March 31). Pretty good incentives to download the app, if you'll ask me.
|Searching for the same hotel on the app and on Traveloka's desktop website gives you an exclusive app-only discount on hotels. Here, I saw a P60 discount on a standard single fan room in Tumamak Lodge.|
Now, I've decided on Tumamak Lodge in Larena, so I went ahead and booked a double room. The booking page showed me a summary of my stay, as well as special requests (if any). After that, it's just three steps more to sealing the deal (which means three chances to check if you made the correct booking): review, pay, and receive your voucher.
Paying with Traveloka is a breezy experience. You have a choice to make a secured credit card payment (all Visa and Mastercard CCs are accepted), which is my default payment for online purchases. During registration, I've provided my credit card details already, so one click did the work.
|Payment page. Choose My Cards to pay with credit card, or Other Payments for over-the-counter payment options.|
If you don't have a credit card, You may also opt for over-the-counter payment via Dragonpay or Coins.ph:
- 7-11 branches
- M. Lhuillier branches
Here, you can finally apply coupon codes for further discount.
My only concern is that Paypal payment isn't available yet - something they can improve on.
Within seconds after payment, I received a confirmation text on my phone confirming my booking, as well as an email with my hotel voucher and transaction receipt. Accessible offline, this voucher contains booking particulars and a map to the hotel, and a proof of stay, should the front desk request for it. It's a relief to not have to worry about last-minute printing, which is a bad habit of mine.
|The Traveloka hotel voucher is sent to your email right after payment. It is accessible offline.|
Also, if your hotel has a phone (i.e. not super rural as mine), the voucher will also have a “Call Hotel” feature, so you can be phone-patched immediately to the hotel should you have inquiries. Neat, yes?
Overall, I think the Traveloka App is promising. Everything is made ridiculously easy, be it checking flight and hotel details, comparing prices, or even booking. Save for that that itsy bitsy part on being Paypal-less, I dare say this has probably been the easiest hotel booking I've had using a mobile app. It's convenient, simple, and you'll have all you need in the palm of your hands when vacation day arrives.