The goal of every hotel is to have 100% occupancy. They do this by providing an assortment of deals for their customers. A room that usually costs $150 a night can be had for $75 if you know how to play the game.
Here are five simple steps to help you get the best rate at the hotel you want.
Step One – Choose the Right Hotel
Safety, location and comfort are just as important as price. The travel website, TripAdvisor can be a real asset in terms of actually choosing the right hotel for your needs. On it you’ll find candid no holds barred reviews from actual customers. When scanning the reviews, make sure you check for location (the hotel that says right by the beach can actually be a few miles away), safety, cleanliness and friendly service. For the most part the reviews on TripAdvisor are truthful because hotels caught posting fake reviews have been banned from the website.
Step Two – Search Comparison Websites
While there are many comparison websites, the best one is Trivago as it searches 160 direct booking sites for the cheapest deals at 600,000 hotels worldwide. As an added bonus there are aggregated reviews from the leading direct booking sites such as Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline.
Step Three – Direct Booking Sites
If you use a comparison site such as the two listed above, you’ll eventually wind up at a direct booking site. There will probably be very little variance in rates between these sites, but what you will find are offers for free nights, upgrades and other perks.
The two top online travel packagers like Expedia and Travelocity have membership programs where you can earn points towards these extra perks. HotelClub has a membership scheme where you can earn money off future bookings. Newcomer Tingo, an offshoot of TripAdvisor, promises to refund you the difference if your hotel rate goes down in price.
Step Four – Mystery Rooms and Bidding
Make sure you check the mystery rooms sites. You can get hotels for up to 50% cheaper by booking an undisclosed hotel on Expedia or Hotwire. You’ll find out the how many stars the hotel has, the facilities and its location, but you won’t know the name of the hotel until after you pay. By doing this, you can get the deepest discounts on quality hotels, but remember, it’s non-refundable.
You can also bid on a hotel room using Priceline.com. You just need to pick what star hotel you want and the price you want to pay. Your bid can be rejected if you lowball it too much, but if it’s accepted be aware it’s non-refundable.
Hate uncertainty? You can play detective before you click purchase on the two options above by inputting the description, location and star category of the hotel into the betterbidding.com search engine. From this you can determine the actual hotel that you are booking.
Always check what extra charges will be added- typically tax and sometimes ‘resort fees’ are shown only in the small print of the original booking.
Step Five – Book Directly Through Hotel Websites
Most hotels are open to negotiation and you can almost always get a sizeable discount if you negotiate directly with them. Many 4 star and above hotels have someone on staff tasked with handling booking negotiations, and discounts of up to 50% are the norm. If your trip can be scheduled during the week you may be able to save even more since week day rates are already lower than those charged for weekend stays.
If you belong to a particular hotel’s loyalty program, you’ll often find exclusive member only deals. One of the best of these loyalty programs is the Starwood program. It includes luxury brands such as St. Regis, Sheraton, Four Points, Westin among others and offers 50% off rack rate, free nights, cash and points deals when you use or transfer points from American Express.
- Marriott Rewards
- Hilton HHonors
- Hyatt: Hyatt Gold Passport
Lastly, make sure you watch out for hidden fees. Taxes are not always included in the initial price and rollaway beds/cribs may cost extra. What looks cheaper at first glance may cost more in the end.
If you need a stay longer than two weeks, check into Extended Stay Hotels. Equipped with kitchens and laundry facilities, these are more like apartments than hotels. With more than 700 locations throughout the US and Canada, you’ll be able to find a home away from home and the longer you stay the bigger the discount.
What’s the best hotel you’ve ever gotten? Tell us at Consumerfu.com. We want to know!