Booking a hotel doesn’t need to be a pain. For many, the process starts and stops with heading online and simply booking the hotel through a third party travel agency such as Priceline or Expedia. These help take some of the headache out of the booking process, but it isn’t possible to truly receive a discount. All of the prices listed here are the same prices everyone else receives, so it really can’t be a “discount.” For customers looking for ways to save on hotels and land the cheapest price possible, there are a few different secrets hotels don’t want them to know about. These are unadvertised methods for cutting down the price of a stay, while often times upgrading the room grade at the same time.
Call the Hotel Directly Instead of Online Hotel Booking
Hotels like to bring in online bookers to their own, personal website or have customers contact their 1-800 number instead of going through the third party retailer. The websites often offer the same listed price as the third party retailers, but at this price the hotel doesn’t need to pay a booking fee to the third party. However, it is possible for a customer to contact the hotel they wish to book with directly for further discounts. Unlike in the world of online booking, contacting a hotel directly makes it possible to negotiate pricing. As long as there are rooms available and it is not the busy time of the year, the hotel is far more likely to offer up steeper discounts for interested travelers. This way, the traveler can save money on their booking, avoid signing up for a half dozen email services and form a personal connection with the hotel itself.
Do Some Research
As a companion option for calling the hotel directly, it is important to do some research in local hotels in order to secure the best price possible. By looking up the price of local hotels, it gives some price comparison points to negotiate with. It is important though to know what hotels are not connected to one another. Some chains are run by the same parent company, so attempting to bring down a hotel price when using a sibling hotel as a price example is not going go work. However, by using a competitors hotel cost as an example, it does make it easier to bring down the price.
Booking the Same Day
While traveling, it can be difficult to know where to stay or what location someone is going to be in on any give day. This means it is better to book the hotel the day of and to simply check-in. However, there are less expensive times of a day to check in, so by waiting a few hours, it is possible for a visitor to save a good amount of money. If at all possible, it is far better for a guest to check in around 5pm instead of in the morning. In the morning, there are still hotel reservations coming in. However, by dinner time, some of these reservations are going to be no-shows, and it allows customers with the ability to pay a discounted price and to save significantly on the hotel stay. Bookings made through some third party websites require the customer to pay in advance. These rooms are booked for the night as it gives the traveler the right to check in at any time. However, for the reservations not paid in advance, when it comes to 5 or 6 pm, the reservation is waved in favor of an actual paying customer. So, by waiting until dinner time, a traveler can save a large amount of money. It is important to note though that hotels do drastically increase the price of a hotel booking around 9 or 10 pm. This is because the hotel knows booking options are limited and the traveler isn’t going to want to search all over the place. So travelers should wait for daily bookings, but not wait too long.
The Free Upgrade
There is a secondary perk in waiting until around 5 or 6 to check into a hotel. At this time, it is easier to land a room upgrade upon request without paying anything extra. Now, this only works if a hotel room is already paid for, but it provides the opportunity of landing a better room for the same price. Should a traveler attempt to check in early, the chance of landing a room upgrade is slim. The hotel needs to hold onto these superior rooms in case someone pays for the room during a booking. However, after 5pm, the rooms are likely going to go empty. Plus, premium rooms are the last rooms to rent out in the evening times as travelers who check in late are looking for the best deals typically, when means they want the least expensive option. Due to this, the hotel is more likely to free up the lesser expensive rooms by bumping up guests who request an upgrade. By 5pm, hotels know what sort of rooms they will have available for the night and if there are premium rooms still available, they often are more accommodating to free upgrades upon request.
Membership Programs Offer Discount Hotel Rooms
Chances are, a traveler has a membership card that can secure a discounted booking whether they know it or not. This doesn’t mean they need to be part of a Hilton rewards program or something with the Marriott. Instead, membership groups like AARP or AAA all typically provide some sort of a discount, yet these are almost never advertised. It is possible to use the membership program to receive a 10 to 15 percent discount on any hotel rate. Now, there are a few different ways to go about using this sort of a discount. When checking for the hotel rate online, there might be a membership option to select when booking the hotel and this automatically takes the price down. The better way to use it though is when discussing the price of a hotel in person. These membership programs offer a percentage off and not just a rate. So, it is better to negotiate a price down that is already lower than what the advertised price is. Once the price is agreed upon, the customer should bring up the fact they are a AAA or AARP member. This way, the price is dropped even further. Should the individual bring up the membership program first, they will be told the discounted rate and not be given the chance to take the price down any further. It is like holding a card up the sleeves. The card should never be played until there are no other moves left.
Opt for Independent Hotels
When staying with a hotel chain, there is always an expected quality regarding the hotel. When staying at one Marriott, there is a similar feeling offered up when comparing it to another Marriott. Some travelers like this. For others who would rather save money, it is better to stay with an independent, local hotel. Independent hotels do not need to pay the franchise fee and other costs associated with using the hotel name. Having the hotel name guarantees some bookings for the hotel, but it also guarantees a price rate increase. In order to cover the monthly franchise fee, which can often be significant, the price is folded into the cost of the rooms. Instead, one little secret most hotels, especially chain hotels, don’t want a customer to know about is that the independent hotels provide just as nice, if not nicer accommodations, for less. These hotels are generally locally owned and provide higher quality meals and often better services all around.
When All Else Fails, Look to Groupon for a Hotel Reservation Online
If you haven’t looked at Groupon for travel before you really should. Groupon provides a truly incredible way to save money on just about everything. These booking options are often far less than anywhere else a traveler is going to find. Now, the website does not have every destination listed, but hotel that want to appear full during any give time may go through Groupon and offer discounts as steep as 75 percent. All a traveler needs to do is head to the Groupon website and type in the desired destination to see what may or may not be available. Plus, there is another way to increase the savings on top of what Groupon already provides. Should a customer find there is a deal they want through Groupon, before booking it they should create an account through Ebates. This is a shopping website that pays back a percentage of online purchases directly back to the customer. Depending on the time of year, Ebates pays back anywhere from six to 10 percent back to the customer for Groupon sales. This means, on top of receive a steep discount through the Groupon deal, the customer can receive an added 10 percent back to sweeten the deal.