Getting the Best Hotel Rate:
Following are some tips for getting the best hotel rates any time you travel. Your mileage may vary, and some hotels are more flexible than others, but these tips should keep you on the winning side of the bargaining table.
This sounds too simple, but it very often works like a charm. Ask whether the hotel is currently running any promotions or packages, and then see if any of the following special rates might apply: AAA, senior, family, hotel membership, weekend, government discount, frequent flier, convention, shareholder or corporate. Hotels sometimes even have what is called a “fallback” rate for travelers who are resisting the quoted rate.
Shop around online
For the latest hotel deals for any location, be sure to check and compare hotels daily. In addition, check the Web sites of your favorite hotel chains; as sometimes they will run promotions exclusively for Web bookings. Hotel discount reservation services like Hotels.com and Priceline.com can also help you save considerably on hotel rates, as can general travel booking sites like Trivago and BookingBuddy.
Book by price, not by Hotel Chain
If you really don’t care about a specific hotel, and just want the cheapest deal, you may want to consider choosing your own price on Priceline or going the anonymous route with Hotwire. On these sites you often won’t know which hotel you’re staying at until it’s booked, but you can request the general location and quality (three-star, four-star, etc.) — and you could save a significant amount of money over
other booking sites. Only downside is that their rating of a hotel might not be the same rating as you would give….I’ve learned this from experience with Hotwire.
Call the hotel directly
Many times specials are offered at the hotel that aren’t available through the 1-800 central reservations system. The 800 agents have no direct access to room availability, and are often not authorized to negotiate. Hotel agents are generally more in touch with availability and specials, and are therefore more flexible with rates. Many chains allot only a select number of rooms to the central reservations system, so 800 agents may even tell you a hotel is sold out when in fact the hotel is discounting rooms because of low booking rates!
You may think you’ve found a great deal, but keep in mind that the base rate isn’t the only thing that will determine your total bill. Be sure to ask what taxes, resort fees, parking costs, energy surcharges, and other odds and ends will apply to your final tally. Even if one hotel has a lower base rate, it may end up being a more expensive option once all the extras are added in.
Negotiating when you arrive?
Leave all your bags in the car. Don’t haul all of your luggage into the lobby and then tell the agent that you’d just as soon go elsewhere if they can’t bring their rates down. You’ll look tired, hassled, sick of lugging bags, and ready to pay handsomely to unpack that suitcase.
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