My Latest Trip Booking
Recently I’ve put plenty of research into booking a number of short trips. Last week I wrote about booking cheaper flights by doing some wider research and considering all options – including mixing and matching airlines.
The second tip I wanted to share relates to hotel bookings. Again, I wanted to show how a little research can uncover some good deals – even during a peak/high demand period.
The Ice Hockey World Championships
For context for this story – I’m a massive ice hockey fan. Now you may not realise this, but it’s actually a very good time to be a big ice hockey fan in Great Britain! This May, for the first time in 24 years, Team GB played at the elite level in the World Championships, facing the likes of Canada, Finland and the USA in Slovakia. Amazingly, despite some enormous defeats (including a 9-0 defeat vs Denmark!), they finished the competition by rallying back from 0-3 to beat France 4-3, and so somehow managed to qualify to play at the elite level again in 2020 (at the expense of France). Next time the event will be hosted in Switzerland, which is one of my favourite countries, and obviously not a million miles from home.
After another year watching the event on the television, I’ve decided that I’d like to follow Team GB to Switzerland for the 2020 competition, so that I can catch a couple of live games. The problem with this is that Switzerland is already expensive and as soon as the cities were announced for next May, hotel prices increased to reflect this. Whilst the tournament may not be a big deal in the UK, thousands of fans from the top hockey countries will be keen to attend. If that isn’t bad enough, at the moment the fixtures aren’t even available, so planning a stay is very difficult. What we do know is that Team GB will be based in Lausanne, and the cheapest I could find in Lausanne during tournament dates, (when I checked on the day Team GB’s group was confirmed) was about £200-300/night for a basic hotel. Cue lots of Team GB supporters feeling disappointed about the tournament suddenly being very expensive to access.
So… I did some research. I’ve been to Switzerland previously (for free! – see here) and I know how good and efficient their rail travel is. I created a list of all cities within an hours’ train journey of Lausanne, and popped each one into Expedia and Booking.com. Twenty minutes later, I’d discovered that the Ibis Fribourg (which has some fairly decent reviews) could be booked for about £60/night, and that there were regular trains from there, taking about 50 minutes to get to Lausanne. Which just left me with one potential issue – the fixtures weren’t yet announced, so I didn’t know the ideal dates, and of course the price could increase at that point as more people look at options.
To resolve this, I looked at this years fixtures and noted that every team will likely play at least once every two days (and sometimes on consecutive days too), for the first 10 days of the tournament. With that information, I booked two overlapping cancellable 2 night stays (at a slightly higher £70/night) during that period. This virtually guarantees that there will be a Team GB game on the middle day of at least one of those bookings, and gives me a very good chance of being able to catch two Team GB games (depending how game start times align with flight times). Once I know the fixtures, I can then cancel the less practical booking and keep the other. Given that the numbers of people travelling from Britain will be relatively low – because it’s ice hockey not football(!) – I won’t have the same issue with flights and Geneva airport is very well served with multiple options per day to use Avios points to fly British Airways from Heathrow, or with EasyJet from my nearest regional airport.
So Voila – after a bit of research, I can potentially attend the World Championships for 2 nights at just £140 for accommodation, 8,000 Avios and £35 taxes for flights, plus the cost of my game tickets. I’m hoping I’ll also be able to fit in a couple of games featuring some of the top countries, assuming I can get tickets.
To find out how easy it is to earn and use 10,000+ Avios points for flights – see my post here.
The other note to add is that during my research, I identified that Hilton Evian-les-Bains, is located in France on the other side of Lake Geneva from Lausanne. This hotel looks fantastic and, quite conveniently, not far from the hotel there is ferry across the lake to Lausanne, which again means it could be accessible within 50 minutes. Normally this hotel is available at 44,000 Hilton Honors points per night – however, they haven’t yet released May 2020 availability and depending on when the games start, the last ferry of the day may be too early. If those dates are released at standard points prices though, I’ll probably consider this again.
So – that’s the thought process of a travel hacker trying to get to the Ice Hockey World Championships!!
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