Comp Hotels

Travel in the age of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Earlier this year some friends and I decided to book yet another trip to Las Vegas to attend the 2020 NFL Draft events. Little did we know, the virus that originated in Wuhan, China would cause such havoc here in the United States.

In January, 2020 we booked a couple hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip utilizing both our M life Rewards and Caesars Rewards loyalty programs. As expected, our desired April 22nd through April 26th trip was going to be expensive due to the planned events taking place that week. After spending weeks of watching prices and checking for deals, we ended up booking the Paris and Excalibur for an average of $220 / night (for a 4 night stay). We booked at these two resorts due to the fact we’ve stayed here before, and the price was within our range. We were confident we found a good deal and were excited to visit in April.

A few weeks went by and more media coverage was appearing regarding the Coronavirus. I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that Las Vegas would nearly be “shut down”. Although this is a crazy time, it was also a time to capitalize on travel deals that almost seemed too good to be true. On March 11th, 2020 it was announced that MGM was halting its Vegas buffet operations due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after, other Casino resorts around the Las Vegas area began to follow suit. It was at this point, something happened that I’ve never witnessed before – massive price drops for hotel rooms.

Within hours of the announcement of closures, I decided to log in to my M life and Caesars Rewards accounts to check hotel pricing. To my astonishment, I was able to rebook our rooms for an average of $120/night – nearly half the price when I originally booked it. For the next couple days, I was checking hotel pricing multiple times throughout the day. I’d usually check in the morning and in the evening, typically seeing the biggest drops in the morning and price rebounds in the late afternoon. For those of you who don’t know, MGM and Caesars resorts allow for room cancellation or rebooking up until the day before your reservation. Using this system I was able to effectively cancel my room and rebook at the lower rate. It’s important to cancel first otherwise your rewards won’t discount the new reservation.

Something I noticed while checking prices was the fact that anytime there were new announcements of closures or change to policy, pricing almost immediately reflected this. As President Donald Trump enacted new regulations and restrictions to travel, pricing would fluctuate.

It was on March 15th when we found the best deal I’ve ever seen in Vegas! On this day, there was major speculation that the NFL draft events in Las Vegas were going to be cancelled, or at the very least changed or rescheduled. Upon hearing the news, I logged in to check pricing and was amazed to see “COMP” next to most Casino Resorts.

Constantly check for the best price. Booking directly offers the best discounts.

We cancelled both reservations at the Paris and Excalibur in favor of re-booking at Caesar’s and the Flamingo. We dropped our average nightly rate from $120 to about $75 with all taxes and room fees included. Our reservation at the Flamingo ended up being $0 + the daily room fee. A normal nights stay in the upgraded Caesar’s room was approximately $325 / night, or on a normal weekend without a major event, $235 / night. We were more than pleased with our persistent price checks.

Persistence and constant price checking pays off.

A story for another day, but we had similar results with flights. Originally it was going to cost us approximately $250 to fly round trip from Colorado Springs to Las Vegas. While checking over the weeks, and around the same time as the price drops for the hotel we managed to book flights out of Denver to Las Vegas for $45 per person round trip.

The ultimate tip to this story is to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on the news or other outlets. Many times this will influence the market as a whole and in this case, save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Most resorts will allow you to cancel your reservations, take advantage of this to save yourself a quick buck. Despite the situation at hand, this tactic can also be used even when there isn’t a nationwide virus outbreak. I have had many trips that I’ve re-booked multiple times to save a few hundred dollars. One thing is certain, I’ll continue to keep an eye on this trip until the day before I leave, assuming my flight or hotel doesn’t get cancelled.

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