In an economic environment that can be described as stagnant at best, finding the best deal when traveling is more important than ever. With so many options available for booking hotels, it is sometimes difficult to know who is really offering the best rate. If you're willing to invest some time by doing a little research, however, the pay off in savings can sometimes be huge. Here are a few tips for scoring the best rates, which I've learned from both my career in the hotel business and as a frequent traveler.
Call The Hotel
One of the best methods for scoring a great hotel rate is to speak to someone at the property directly. Reservations agents at the various 1-800 numbers have zero latitude in negotiating rates outside of what the hotel tells them. If you speak to someone in-house, however, you might find an undisclosed rate or package gets offered that you probably wouldn't find elsewhere. Last time I booked with a hotel directly, the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta went ahead and bumped me up a room category for the same rate. Another good reason to book in-house...
|Plenty of great deals to be found in Las Vegas|
Try A Travel Agent
While traditional travel agencies have more or less gone the way of the dinosaur, they can still be a great way to save money on your vacation. Travel agents have access to booking engines that often have rates far less than even the cheapest of online outlets. For several years, yours truly was an independent travel agent and on one occasion I managed to score a rate at the New York Palace which beat all of the online guys by $120...per night.
While travel agents can still sometimes find the best deal, more often than not they won't be able to compete with their online counterparts. Many hotels offer advance purchase rates which are a discount to their normal pricing, although keep in mind that in exchange for the discount these are usually non-refundable. If you're looking for an even deeper discount, well, you can always let William Shatner be "The Negotiator" for you.
Search For Promo Codes
Many hotels and websites offer promo codes for special rates to select customers. It's easy to find promo codes for Expedia and other websites from people that share them online, however the trick is finding ones that actually work. I recently found a promo code for a hotel that didn't save me any money, but it did get us free breakfast and parking for our stay. Well worth the 3 minutes I spent searching online...
|Perhaps you can find a code which tosses in a bottle of wine...|
Just Show Up
While starting a vacation without a hotel reservation is something I could never do, being a walk-in guest can sometimes score you an awesome rate. Some hotels offer front desk agents incentives for landing walk-in business, which might entice them to offer you rates lower than you'd otherwise find. This is especially true late at night when a hotel is trying to fill its last few remaining rooms.
By giving a few of these tips a try, chances are you'll find some savings when booking your next hotel. The important thing to remember, however, is that in the end you're planning a vacation. Don't allow the desire to save a few bucks to take away from what should be a fun and refreshing experience. Still, it's always nice to have a few extra dollars in the pocket when traveling, especially if you're like me and have a hard time saying no to 24 hour room service.
Enjoy Your Stay