Traveling More Cheaply and Using Kaligo.com
Over the Christmas holidays, I read my friend Matt Kepnes’ book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. I first met Matt back in 2008 in Chicago at a mini travel-blogging conference after BlogHer. He was — and is — living the life that most of us can only dream of, traveling the world and running a successful website all at the same time. Matt, if you ever need a personal assistant, you just let me know.
You should definitely check out Matt’s book if you have a chance. It made me think a bit differently about the things I spend money on when traveling, and that alone made it worth the £9.74 investment. So when I was looking for a hotel in Helsinki, rather than my usual large business-class hotel that earns me points or the luxury boutique hotel with expensive soap and iPhone chargers and bluetooth speakers, I went with the design-led-but-still-cheap Hotel Helka at £59 a night. And while that’s certainly not the $50 a day that Matt gets away with, it was a lot better than the £150 a night I probably would have spent otherwise. Matt, it only took me six years to adopt your principles, but I’m getting there!
I also experimented with a new booking site in making my reservation. It’s called Kaligo.com and their (very good) gimmick is that you can earn additional frequent flyer miles with your booking. This was my compromise with myself…cheaper hotel, but get more miles. Plus, I booked my stay using my BA Amex so I got even more miles there. I have the BA Amex Premium Plus Card, which gets you 1.5 Avios for every £1 you spend and 3 Avios for every £1 you spend direct with British Airways or BA Holidays.
Here is how Kaligo describe themselves on their About page…
A brand you can trust and enjoy, Kaligo.com is a leading global hotel booking platform that rewards customers with incredible miles & points across a wide range of favourite loyalty programs.Launched in 2014, Kaligo offers great rates and a large selection of 300,000 properties across more than 200 countries.
My Kaligo Review: Earning British Airways Avios with Hotel Bookings
As I started working on my Kaligo review, I saw lots of attractive offers on Kaligo.com for my Helsinki stay — two nights at the Hilton Helsinki boasted 3200 British Airways Avios. But per previous, I chose the much more moderate Helka Hotel, which included a bonus of 700 Avios. I was very focused on saving money this trip and The Helka cost me just 59 quid a night. Note that booking direct or through other platforms was the same price! So booking through Kaligo for the 700 extra Avios seemed like a no-brainer. Kaligo’s confirmation noted that I should receive my Avios within six weeks after my stay. I just checked my Executive Club statement and the 700 Avios arrived five business days after I checked out of the hotel.
I can’t think of a reason for not using Kaligo for all my hotel bookings now. If I can get extra miles…why not??? (Although please note that booking through Kaligo may mean you can’t otherwise earn points on your stay like you would as an IHG member or Marriott member, etc.) Sure, I am also a member of Expedia’s Reward Program in the U.S. but to be honest, I have totally no idea how it works. (Fodder for further investigation, of course.)
I liked the Helka overall, but I will admit…I missed my luxury bath products. Also, the bed was not the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept in. That being said, the hotel breakfast was awesome — why is it that tourist class hotels include breakfast but luxury hotels do not? The bar area was also pretty cool. I basically tried to spend as little time as possible in my hotel room.
Here’s my little video tour of The Helka…
Kaligo.com vs Booking.com Review
I decided to run a comparison of Kaligo.com vs. Booking.com to see if there were any differences for a Helsinki stay over the same weekend. I plugged in that I wanted one room from Friday, July 27th to Sunday July 29th for one person. To make things easier to compare, I also said I wanted 4 star hotels or above. Kaligo provided 40 4-star hotels and 4 5-star hotels. Booking.com provided 42 4-star and 9 5-star properties, so perhaps Booking.com has a slightly larger selection.
Kaligo said its best offer was the Scandic Grand Marina, presumably because of the large number of Avios on offer. The site listed the Scandic Grand Marina for £141 per night PLUS I’d earn 5,700 avios. This rate is inclusive of fees and taxes. Once I went through the checkout process, it actually said the total rate was £280 which is fine. The rate was for a single room with breakfast. However, in reading the fine print, if I canceled the booking between July 24th and July 26th, I’d be charged £140. If I cancelled on the 27th, the entire fee was non-refundable.
Booking.com offered me a rate of £264 for my two-night stay, and no Avios. So it was £16 cheaper BUT this was an immediately non-refundable rate. Oddly, the room choice was listed as “Family Room: 2 Adults + 1 Child” even though I had specifically said I was a solo traveler. (Breakfast was included.)
If we assume that 1 Avios is worth about 1p, the 5700 additional Avios we are getting through Kaligo are worth around £57. In this scenario then, if we are not cash flow sensitive and don’t mind spending £16 more, it makes more sense to book through Kaligo.com. (Note that there are all different ways of valuing Avios so 1p isn’t entirely right but it’s a good general rule of thumb.)
I then went on to compare the prices between Kaligo and Booking.com on a number of other 4 and 5 star properties and they were pretty much always the same…although with Kaligo, you got the Avios too…
Kaligo.com Airline Partners
Since my original Kaligo.com review, the site has expanded and now offers points with multiple airline reward programs. A small screenshot of some — not all — of the partners is included above.
Summary: My Kaligo Review
So in summary…my Kaligo review is positive and I would use the service again for sure. Paying the same price as other platforms but then also getting Avios seems like a no brainer to me. But think about Matt and his book and don’t just book for the extra Avios. Book for value! This gives you more money to spend on you! And all the Marimekko and Iittala in Finland…
Check out these other articles for more Kaligo.com reviews and details:
- Head for Points interview with Kaligo CEO
- Doctor of Credit on Kaligo (This is a very thorough Kaligo review.)
- Doctor of Credit analysis of Kaligo vs. Rocketmiles vs. PointsHound
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