Some New Internet Doings

By Ed Perkins

If you thought you knew about online travel information, just wait a minute.

New sites and upgrades come along almost too fast to see. Here's a rundown on some of them.

Looking for a really sweet hotel deal?

Sign up for a new alert from DealBase ( You select a destination, specify the class(es) of hotels you want to track, and the maximum values of your price range, and DealBase will alert you by email to any deals that fit the bill.

You can select daily, biweekly or weekly reports. The default page lists 14 of the nation's top destinations, but you can enter others in the United States, the Caribbean or Mexico.

You don't specify a date: you get any deal that meets your criteria regardless of possible travel times.

How about a last-minute deal on a vacation rental?

The upgraded site for Zonder Vacation Home Rentals ( now offers last-minute deals and easier search functions, as well as "real time" pricing. Enter a destination area, your price range, whether you prefer a house, condo, or either; and if you want beachfront, a pool, hot tub, or Internet access.

The list automatically responds to any limitations or parameters you enter. And once you select a property, you enter dates and the site shows the rate for that time period. Unfortunately, you can't filter by other factors that might be important, such as access for disabled travelers or acceptance of pets. And, in a few brief checks, I found that Zonder lists mainly condos, and far fewer individual properties than you find on the mega-sites such as Vacation Rentals by Owner (

Still, it's a slick site and one to check when you're looking for deals on rentals.

For still more rentals, Sell My Timeshare Now ( has enhanced its rental section with a new "book it now" feature. Reservations are real time -- no going back and forth with property owners. For a reasonable amount of detail, go right to the "advanced" search option. Not all available units are in the "book it now" system; with others, you contact the property owner, as usual. As far as I can tell, the site works as advertised. As a side note, I saw plenty of good resale deals posted.

Priceline's ( improved hotel reservation system incorporates several new features:

-- A "guest scorecard" for most hotels, based on ratings submitted by Priceline customers after their return. The hotel's rating is based on overall quality, cleanliness, staff, location, and dining. Reviews can also be sorted by traveler class -- solo, couples, groups, seniors, families with teens, families with young children, and business travelers -- and the site includes some Zagat reviews.

-- A listing of hotels "similar" to possible choices.

-- An expanded "winning bids" section to help "name your own price" bidders.

Of course, online hotel reviews are nothing new: Other big Web agencies provide them, and TripAdvisor probably has more than any other source. However, Priceline's improvements are certainly welcome.

Vayama ( features "Europe through the side door" fares for the remainder of the summer and fall. The idea is that fares to such smaller "side door" European cities as Stuttgart or Marseilles can be less than fares to the main gateways. And some of the fares look good. Unfortunately, however, Vayama continues to feature misleading big-type fare figures that obviously exclude some airlines' phony "fuel surcharges."

For example, the headlined "from" round-trip fare between Chicago and Venice is $242. On its Website, Vayama does note that the total fare, including taxes and fees is $579, but the lower figure is highlighted.

Given the fact that legitimate taxes and fees aren't likely to be any more than $150 or so, the difference clearly represents a hefty fuel surcharge. But Vayama's press release cites only that before-surcharge figures, a clear distortion that, I'm afraid, some travel writers will pass along as the real fares.

As I've often reported, quoting fares that exclude fuel surcharges violates government rules, but some third-party sellers seem to be ignoring those rules. Be warned.

Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins(at) Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money ," is now available through


© Ed Perkins Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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