Business or pleasure? Whether we are traveling for work or for fun, we all want to enjoy our stay – and we all to find the lowest possible price on a great hotel. A lovely accommodation at a fair rate is not too much to ask, right?
Well, like everything else in this life, the best things require a little effort. So before you can ride off into the sunset on your time away from home, you have to saddle up and get busy looking for a deal.
Anybody with an internet connection can Google “cheap hotels” or “best deals” to get started. The search results will yield some good options: Hotels.com, Bookit.com, and Booking.com are easy to navigate sites that will save you money on your hotel. They offer photos, reviews, and a detailed explanation of amenities so you know where you are staying and what to expect.
If this is all the energy you can muster to save yourself some hard earned cash, reserve your room and be done.
But if you are a steely-eyed, bargain hunting beast…we are just getting started!
Destination and Logistics
Knowing about your destination will give you some great insight into where to look for the best deals. Consider these questions:
– Is this a business, vacation, or venue specific destination?
Hotels at a heavy business destination are going to be busier Monday to Friday yet have more availability on the weekends. Rates will reflect their traffic so weekend rates might be better there. Conversely, a venue specific destination, for example, around a concert venue, or sports arena, will raise rates during peak events. Widening your search results even a mile or two will give you many more options.
– Are there secret hotels in the area?
Many smaller hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, or cottage motels do not pay the fees to be included in the searches or offer deals on the discount sites. The best way to find them is to visit the city website and look through the “Places to Stay” or “Visitors” tabs. Don’t let the word “motel” in “cottage motel” frighten you – they are usually charming, locally owned and operated, and very well maintained. Another goldmine for unearthing these secret treasures are the local Chamber of Commerce sites. AND! The Chamber’s sites often have coupons or special deals.
– What will you be doing and where will you need to go?
If you need to rent a car, access public transportation, or pay for taxi services, then these costs must be added in the total cost of the accommodation. Getting a great deal but having to pay for taxi service daily will offset the benefit. Explore the area online and anticipate where you plan on going.
Cheap Deals Hotels
If you want the most incredible deal, a deal that will make all your friends think of you as their new go-to booking guru, then you must leave no stone unturned.
Here is what we are looking for:
GOOD: 10-20% deals are easy to find and you can save them on most booking sites easily.
BEST: 35-50% is the range of realistic deals – they are out there.
UNREALISTIC: 75% to 90% are not discounts based on actual rates that guests are paying and booking. This is based on a “Rack Rate,” which is the inflated rate where the hotel adds fees to the highest rates for the most expensive rooms to make the discount seem larger. Let’s be real, you are not going to find a $275 room for $27.50.
First, visit the website for the local tourism bureau for your destination. They will have AMAZING local deals on their site, and plenty of coupons.
Take the extra time and CALL the office.
The tourism bureau will mail you a welcome packet with all kinds of coupons, freebies, upgrades, and special deals. Score! Some sites will let you order the welcome packet online, however, speaking to someone is an added layer of assurance that your packet will get to you and may even get you some extra perks! Hotels booked through the Official Tourism and Convention Bureau can offer savings of 30-50%.
These coupons and deals change daily, so check often.
Generally speaking, hotel rates are always in a state of fluctuation, so you can’t assume there is ever a standard rate. Seasons, events, and their vacancies impact their rates weekly.
Third, visit the hotel websites. Sign up for newsletters and loyalty programs in advance of booking.
When you don’t book right away, they will begin to send you incentives, discounts, even cash rebates for referring a friend.
Also, check through all the discount programs – AARP, AAA, and Military Discounts are standard but many also offer discounts to work specific groups like the AMA, the Bar Association, educators, and more.
Direct Manager’s Special
Fourth, now this is where the whole thing comes together. Narrow down your list of preferred hotels and cross reference them with the ones for which you have the best coupons and deals.
THEN, call the hotel directly. Not the corporate line. The actual hotel.
Call during normal business hours (but NOT during checkout or check-in times) so you can speak to a general manager. Be prepared to negotiate. Sometimes they are unwilling or unable to offer better deals but MANY times they can and will. When you are bargaining, be nice. Be interested in their city and their hotel, mention positive reviews, express your desire to stay there, and don’t be afraid to casually mention the other place down the road with a slightly better deal that just isn’t your favorite.
Managers want fully booked facilities. Corporate is happy to avoid paying commissions on bookings made in-house as opposed to a third party site. This is a win-win for everyone. It never hurts to ask.
Last-Minute Hotels Deals
If you failed to do all the legwork and compare and plan early, or if you have an unexpected trip…NOT TO WORRY!
Some of the best rates can be had by calling the hotel directly within their cancellation window. Usually, guests can cancel within 24-48 hours of their reservation. This creates vacancies that managers are eager to fill.
Whether you book your hotel early or last minute, never settle for full price. There are so many ways to save your money when booking a hotel.
Now enjoy your trip!