When I book accommodation for my travels I always pay a lot of attention to the reviews and the price. I usually don’t go for the cheapest option, but I do travel rather budget. So when TravelPony approached me to review their booking site, I was intrigued.
TravelPony promises amazing prices, which it says it is able to offer thanks to the fact that it is a “members only” site. That doesn’t entail much, though. All you need to sign up is a Facebook account and that Facebook account is what unlocks special discounted prices.
Besides that, TravelPony counts on word of mouth. The site relies on customers to talk about it and, specifically, to share their bookings on social media.
“Share my booking on social media?”
When you make a booking on TravelPony, you are asked if you want to share something about TravelPony on one of your social media. However, you can also opt out of this by just checking a box that says that you’ll tell your friends about TravelPony instead. This does make me wonder just how effective TravelPony’s word of mouth marketing strategy will be in the long run.
How exactly does it work?
The steps are outlined by TravelPony like this:
Step One – Login: Login to the site to see the prices. Using a Facebook login is suggested but not required and TravelPony only uses the Facebook login for security and ease of use. No data or auto posting is required.
Step Two – Search: Customers search for their destination city.
Step Three – Choose: Look at a hotel page to book your hotel. As a courtesy, TravelPony shows customers every price it can find for the same hotel room on different hotel booking websites.
Final Step – Book and Share: Book and complete the purchase. Sharing a social post about the customer's deal is highly encouraged but not required and if customers don't want to share a message on Facebook or Twitter, they can simply take the “Pony Promise” to tell their friends about it offline, which is a very polite opt out.
Is TravelPony cheaper?
I decided to test that by booking a 2-night stay through TravelPony for my trip to Québec. After having entered “Québec city” in the search field and chosen the dates for my stay, I got a list with results, similar to this one (I didn't take a screenshot back then):
The hotel that was most within my price range, was the Château Bellevue.
As you can see above, the hotel page lists the amenities of the hotel, as well as a comparison with room prices on other hotel booking sites. TravelPony comes out of the equation as the cheapest option.
When you’ve chosen a place to stay and are ready to confirm your reservation, you’ll be asked to share your booking with TravelPony on one of your social media channels. You can, however, easily opt out of this.
You have full control of what you post and when you post. TravelPony will never post anything without your permission. The only thing that’s mandatory is that you add @travelpony and a link to their website.
Normally I use several filters when I search for accommodation: wi-fi, non-smoker room… Unfortunately, TravelPony doesn’t give you that option. You just search on location and date and it’s only when you get the results that you can click through to each hotel individually to check their facilities. However, I’ve also found some hotels that didn’t have any extra information.
There’s also no way to search within a certain price range. TravelPony only makes a distinction between “standard” and “upscale”. You can, however, let TravelPony list your search result from lowest to highest price.
The fact that TravelPony only distinguishes between “standard” and “upscale” says something about the hotels they partner with. At the moment they aren't partnering with a lot of budget hotels. If you're looking for a hostel, TravelPony isn't the best place to search.
Will I use TravelPony again?
I'll definitely use TravelPony again, but probably not as my first stop for a hotel search. As they're fairly new to the game they don't have that many properties listed just yet (although new ones are added regularly) and mostly also because they don't really focus on budget accommodation.
However, if I do find an interesting hotel elsewhere, I'll definitely check out the prices for that hotel on TravelPony as I'm sure it will be the cheapest.
Also, when I feel like going a bit fancier, TravelPony might be the place to do that for a few bucks less.