Sunday, January 24, 2010

What I Learned Last Night booking the Super 8


You may have read what I learned about booking at Harrah's.
My next focus was on the hugely expensive rooms for April 16-17 at the Imperial Palace.
$85 and $95 did not set well with me, but at the same time I did not feel like going very far on the bus and that weekend, just after the National Broadcaster's Convention, would be a great weekend to look for easy poker tables filled with tourists.

I could not beat the price until I took a look at the Super 8 next to Ellis Island. Over the last few years this place has been getting better reviews. I am hoping it will be about like a downtown room.
I caught a price of $58 for those two weekend nights, but the price was not refundable if I cancelled. Then I tried the AARP/AAA price and hit $62 with the usual 72 hour prior to arrival cancellation fee.
So for a total of $6 I could book these rooms and still look for better deals and have the insurance of no cancellation fee if I could not make the trip.

And here are the FREE AMENITIES:

Hotel Services & Amenities

* 24 Hour Front Desk
* AAA Approved
* Air Conditioning
* Airport Shuttle
* Alarm Clock
* ATM Machine
* Business Services/Copy/Fax
* Cribs
* Dataport
* Elevators
* Free Parking/Outside/Street/Bus/ Truck
* Guest Laundromat
* Heated Outdoor Pool
* Free High Speed Wireless Internet
* Ice Machine
* Interior Corridors
* Available at front desk
* Rollaway

* Safe Deposit Box
* Security
* Spa
* Vending Machines
* Phones-Free Local Calls
* Long Distance Access/International Access
* Satellite/Cable Television with CNN, Fox, etc.
* TV with Remote Control
* View from Room
* Wake-up Service
* Handicap Facilities/Ramp
* Non-Smoking Room
* Pets Accepted in 1st floor rooms only-$15.00 plus tax per pet, per night
* Pool View
* Suites Available

That sold me. Perhaps the rooms are not as nice as the Imperial Palace Delux, but staying there would mean that I could have free internet access and a laundry right in the middle of a 16 day stay. That is truly amazing!
I also like having HBO for a movie when I am just too tired to play and yet not ready to sleep. Their television is supposed to be better.
I don't need the free shuttle back to the airport this trip as I am heading downtown at the end of my trip and I'll get that from the El Cortez, but if I like this place well enough, it will be great on a future trip.

So I called and booked and saved $63. Norma was a great help on the phone. She answered all my questions and even told me that if I could get a Traveler's Coupon book, there are often coupons in there for this property.
Working with Harrah's Rewards and booking Super 8, in an hour of rebooking I saved $125.
This brings my 16 night stay in Vegas in April down to $34 - $39 average a night (with taxes) depending on which of two casinos I pick for the second weekend of my stay.

What I learned last night about booking a Harrah's casino

My next trip is in April. Generally I go in August  and December.  I avoid conventions.  I stay downtown or slip away to Laughlin where the VP is still full pay.
However, I am changing my gambling focus, dropping intense VP play and concentrating on live poker.
For live poker the strip is a better place to play.  And conventions are very good things. Casinos don't change the odds at the poker table.  People and their quality of play do.

Now, I play no one armed bandits.   Generally I go unnoticed by casino marketing.   But my Harrah's poker play around the country apparently has attracted some attention, and I am getting my best deals on their Rewards site using my card.

So I booked there a month ago. 
Now here is the weird thing about that site.  Once you make a booking, you can't book again on line for that month in any Harrah's properties.  They don't want you to get two rooms at your special rate.  You have to call.  You don't have to pay the $10 processing fee for the call because it is the fault of the computer.  They waived that when I asked. 

You also can't see what they call your "offers."

When I booked there were no "offers" for April.  I booked too early.
But I am a book and rebook frugal guy even when staying on the strip, so last night I decided to call and see what was what.  I had to change my dates anyway. 

I had booked Flamingo for five cheap nights, ($40)
I explained my dilemma to the booking operator.  She agreed that I could not see rates to decide if I wanted to rebook to save money.  She was surprised I could not see my offers, but I suggested that she could see my offers so would she mind looking to see if I was missing any good deals.
Since I booked, the rewards rates had gone up $25 over the five nights.  But my offers included two free nights.  So she rebooked me. I saved $80-$25 or $55 plus 12% =$62

And for this call I did not have to pay the $10 processing fee either.  Apparently changing a reservation entails no fee, so the frugal way to book is to book something on line, wait a while, and then call.

I also had three nights booked at the Imperial Palace, but I could only use my "offers"  in one Harrah's property.

So, it seems that early booking on the Rewards site saves money.  Then it seems that just as the "offers" show for the dates booked, a call to Harrah's may save more money.
What surprised me most was the two comped nights.  Poker play does not often generate many free nights.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Hey, the Vegas bus stuff got so big it had to be morphed into its own blog.