Safara is the best hotel booking app you probably don’t know
Booking travel accommodation is a bit like looking for a new apartment or a new home. It’s fun and exciting at first, but it quickly becomes tedious, time-consuming, and maybe the reason you and your partner aren’t currently talking to each other.
Indeed, hotel reservation services like Expedia, Hotel.com, and Booking.com have obscured the room reservation process by inundating users with too many choices. And up this side, all three of these sites have pretty paltry rewards programs, so you end up getting a pittance compared to the perks you actually deserve.
Enter Safari, a new hotel reservation service only on subscription. Yes, subscription, because you have to pay an annual subscription. But hear us out: you spend money on razor, coffee, and TV subscription services, so why not do it for a travel platform, aka the industry that millennials and Gen Z have. spend at unprecedented rates?
That’s what Maya Poulton and Joey Kotkins thought when they came up with the idea in late 2017. Poulton’s knowledge as a veteran of the hospitality space (she was an early employee of Jetsetter and led international and US marketing on the boutique booking platform Mr & Mrs Smith) led her to the revelation that there had to be a better way for travelers to book stays.
A quick introduction: These aforementioned platforms are what are known as OTAs (Online Travel Agencies). They serve as giant markets for people to discover and book hotels online. Originally, they recruited hotels that presented themselves as a “marketing” opportunity: by registering on the platform, a hotel would be visible to thousands of visitors who might not find it otherwise. But they have since grown into bulky behemoths that aren’t really good for anyone; OTAs are heavy tools that overwhelm users and charge hotels high fees (up to 30% sometimes) for reservations.
The beauty of Safara, says Poulton, is that they made “a commitment to never take any booking fees, and return them instead as reward dollars.” Every dollar that Safara collects in what would be a traditional OTA commission goes to your account as a dollar that you can use for future reservations on the platform.
Based on a reservation, you can expect to get back between $ 0.10 and $ 0.20 for every dollar spent. Annual membership is $ 195, so most people will get it back after two bookings. Poulton says the average member now earns $ 1,000 a year in free travel. For starters, if you’re one of the outliers that doesn’t cover your $ 195 fee in the first year, they’ll refund you the difference.
This, my friends, is called the obvious.
Safara’s curation is also on the cards, so you won’t be bombarded with all the options available in sunny whatever city you want. For example, when I searched New York for the dates of 02/27-3 / 1, I got 92 results. A quick scan showed that they were all outcomes that I would feel confident about with my mom. The same Hotels.com search yielded… 1,496 options. Safara has a very limited (but not too limited) collection of 3.5 to 5 star hotels on her site, all of which have been personally vetted (Poulton out of the thousands of hours she spent curating: ” It sucked, if I’m being honest with you ”) and covers the entire spectrum, from small boutiques to old-fashioned luxury standards like The Four Seasons and The St. Regis.
The network totals around 7,000 man-made hotels, but if none of these appeal to you, there are over 500,000 additional properties available for booking. Safara also doesn’t take commissions as a way to make money, so they don’t have an incentive to prioritize the placement of the hotels that pay them the most.
The disadvantages are rare. The first is that there are very few real budget options. Also, if you’re an infrequent traveler or prefer to stay with friends or at an Airbnb, a membership may not be worth it. But even if you only stay in hotels a few times a year, the membership will more than pay off and will also help you discover great hotels with a lot less screening.
The last word
In conclusion, if I know the audience for InsideHook as I think, Safara is something that many of you will have solid use, and others will save an absolute fortune. So, after speaking with Poulton, I asked her if she could make a deal with InsideHook readers. She obliged. Anyone wishing to join Safara will get 100 bonus points (worth $ 100), plus the points you earn from your booking, but you will not have to commit to becoming a full member until your second booking. In addition to that, they give a $ 50 additional discount on the first year of membership with the code INSIDEHOOK. This means that by the time you make your second booking and sign up, you will likely have already got your money back. Happy and prosperous trips.
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