Cinque Terre by night, featured on Trafalgar's tour of Italy

Pretty much everyone I know that loves to travel also loves to feel like they're a savvy traveller. Finding the best bang for your buck in destinations can be like a badge of honour – but sometimes you need a little help from your friends, or in our case, insiders such as Trafalgar Tours, Disney Cruiselines, Globus Journeys and Booking.com.

 

Take, for example, a recent trip to London. I discovered a fabulous 5-star property, The Arch London, above, in the leafy Marylebone neighbourhood (Madonna lives just across the street!), using booking.com's search engine, and it was listed at anywhere between 10% and 25% the hotel's posted rates, even with free cancellation policies in place. And the rates come up in Canadian dollars, so no fumbling with exchange rates. You know what you're paying right off the bat.

Bigger bang for the Canadian Buck #1: Once I booked, the bonus discounts got better. I was sent a special Booking.com QR code in the Booking.com app that gave me discounts and deals on 44 attractions in the city.

Turns out Booking.com launched a new initiative last year called Booking Experience, "a first-of-its-kind service, that leverages Artificial Intelligence technology and powerful machine-learning to predict individual traveller intent," according to the company. It creates a personalized list of local events and attractions, and lets you get front-of-the-line access and purchase tickets directly within Booking.com's mobile app. In addition to London, Paris, Dubai and New York City travellers who book with the search engine will also receive the code and access to the mobile app.

How it works: Show your code to staff at any attraction (note that some attractions require ticket collection in another location). Staff will scan your code so you can enter. The family and friends you're with can enjoy all the same offers, too. Shortly after your check-out date, Booking.com will send you an email with an overview of your ticket transactions. Then you can arrange secure, online payment, no third-party needed. The QR code is automatically linked to your credit card of choice.

Booking.com has leveraged insights from its millions of travellers about what they liked (and didn't like) about various destinations and the experiences they had there. "With Booking Experiences, our passion for data-driven insights, our deep knowledge of travel and our ambition to smartly infuse Artificial Intelligence technology into our product are all coming together to create a new, uniquely mobile travel experience that's curated, seamless and personal," said David Vismans, Chief Product Officer at Booking.com. "Our ultimate goal is to keep you inspired, regardless of whether it's your first – or fifth time visiting a particular location."

NEXT: Bigger bang for the Canadian Buck #2 ...

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