While flight prices get the most attention, hotel stays are often a trip’s most oversized ticket item. So how do you find the best deal?
Do Your Research
Like flights, finding the best hotel discounts takes a bit of research. The first step is to decide what kind of accommodations you want, the dates of your trip, and how you plan to pay (cash or points/miles).
Next, use a website to search for hotels by price and guest ratings. Make sure the prices you see include taxes, fees, and other add-ons. If you are a member of an organization such as AARP or AAA, you can often save even more. For example, AARP members save 15% at Marriott hotels, while AAA members get 10% off at many Best Western hotels.
You can also look for hotel deals by using the hotels.com site, which acts as an aggregator, pulls results from the major OTAs and hotel sites, and then sends you to the booking website of your choice. It can be a good option if you have some flexibility on your travel dates or don’t collect loyalty rewards for a specific brand. This method can be advantageous when searching for hotel deals during peak season.
Don’t Be Afraid to Bid
While bidding has become controversial, it can lead to incredible savings. If you are willing to leave it up to chance, booking sites offer great rates on rooms that would otherwise go unoccupied.
Another strategy is to mention that it’s your birthday, anniversary, or honeymoon and ask for a particular treatment. Often hotels are willing to offer room upgrades and amenity kits to make the stay memorable for you.
If you’re traveling for business, ask about corporate rates. Even small businesses can save significant hotel rates by finding the best discounts. Travel Management Companies (TMCs) work with an extensive network of providers and may have access to rates that aren’t advertised on the hotel website. They can negotiate unique amenities like free parking and a different bed size or location. They can also help you secure corporate discounts on airfares and rental cars. Some TMCs offer loyalty programs that can also save you money on hotels.
Don’t Be Afraid to Book a Refundable Room
Whether you’re an advance planner or a last-minute traveler, hotel rates change constantly. Consider booking a refundable room to avoid the frustration of missing out on a deal. Then you can relax and enjoy your vacation, knowing you can cancel if necessary without penalties.
Online booking sites and hotel websites offer different deals, so comparing their prices is necessary. Some hotels even offer deals on their website that you need help finding on OTAs. And if you’re not comfortable booking directly with the hotel, try using a search engine like Google to get a broad overview of options.
Some people swear by bidding sites, but it’s important to remember that you could lose money if you book a refundable rate and you don’t end up staying at the hotel you booked. Be sure to read the cancellation policy carefully before you book, and make sure to double-check it with the hotel’s site. Some hotels will waive fees if you call and explain the reason for your cancellation.
Do Your Due Diligence
It’s essential to do your due diligence when negotiating hotel discounts. This includes researching a property’s earnings and cash flow, and reviewing operating trends, key business performance metrics, and working capital requirements. It also involves assessing a deal’s strategic fit within your investment portfolio and how it will benefit you in the long term.
One of the best ways to find a great deal in a hotel is to book multiple nights. It will often lower overall prices as the average nightly rate decreases. For example, if you are looking for a hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, compare prices for one night, two nights, and three nights to see how much the average price per night drops each time.
If you are searching for a last-minute deal, try searching for “Secret Deals.” These deals will give you a lower price on a mystery hotel within your preferred star rating range but will reveal the hotel after booking.