We enjoyed an affordable family weekend away at Element on Coolum Beach thanks to GraysEscape.
We enjoyed an affordable family weekend away at Element on Coolum Beach thanks to GraysEscape. Contributed

Everybody wins on room prices online at GraysEscape

EVERYBODY loves a bargain.

And when you have to haggle to get it, even better.

I am a haggler from way back.

Three shopping trips to barter-berserk places like Hong Kong and China have well and truly hardened my haggling resolve.

It was there in Asia that I learned the rule of F.

To be fortunate in the haggling world, you need to be firm, fair, fast and fearless.

And now you can add fun to the mix, with a website where you can haggle for holiday accommodation.

Believed to be a world first, GraysEscape is like the love child of Wotif and eBay.

An offshoot of the massive auction house GraysOnline, it lists hotels and resorts in Australia and New Zealand.

It allows hoteliers to fill empty rooms via controlled discounting and allows travellers to score exclusive and confidential discounts of up to 20% below an already-reduced price.

Everybody wins.

"Our local travel industry is hurting, so this exciting and innovative way to put more bods in beds by allowing hotels and consumers to bargain with each other one-on-one via the red-face-free medium of a website will really help accommodation and tourism providers and also everyday Australians saddled with the rising cost of living," GraysOnline CEO Cameron Poolman said.

"Australians are often embarrassed to haggle, even in places where it is prevalent such as Asia, but on graysescape.com, scores of hotels across Australia and New Zealand are now open to offers, allowing anyone to strike a special, unique rate lower than that on any other accommodation website.

"In the end, the hotel fills an otherwise empty room and the customer scores a top deal."

Mr Poolman said the site was based on the concept that a "vacant room is revenue lost forever".

"There are more than 100,000 hotel rooms left vacant every night across Australia, which costs the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue," GraysEscape managing director Gary Berman said.

My experience was interactive and thrilling.

First, I chose a location (Element on Coolum) for a two-night weekend family getaway.

I noted the asking price, already a lot less than the regular amount.

Then I clicked on "haggle", a frisson of excitement stirring in my veins.

The advertised price was $398 for two nights in a two-bedroom apartment. I submitted $355, based roughly on an average haggle guide given on the form.

Not long after, I got an email that my haggle had been declined and would I like to submit another.

I went up to $378 and then it was accepted.

There are also "buy now" or "hush hush deals", although I did not see any of those on the site when I browsed.

You can make an offer to three hotels at once, with the first property to accept winning the business.

The process was simple, engaging and confidential.

A word of warning, though... most of the Sunshine Coast properties insist on a two-night minimum stay.

But they are just a small drop in an ever-expanding GraysEscape ocean, with Mr Berman wanting to increase the number of properties on the site by 30% by Easter.



  • GraysEscape.com is the first foray into the accommodation market by online retailer, GraysOnline, which attracts 1.1 million shoppers every month.
  • Grays bought Ubid4rooms.com from Gary Berman to form GraysEscape.


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