Let’s face it….vacations are best! But most of us get only a few weeks each year to put our stresses behind us and travel somewhere new and exciting. And the absolute last thing we want to do is spend a fortune just to do so! The worst feeling in the world is to think you got a great rate, only to find out later that you could have saved so much more if you’d just done this or gone there. To keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket where it should be, here are a few simple tips to help you get the best deals on a hotel room!
1. Book last minute
Most big hotel chains hold blocks of rooms for tour operators. 24 hours before prior to arrival, any rooms that are not booked are released and become available to the masses. So 24 hours before your stated check-in might just be the best time to steal a deal. Do note that last-minute reservations during peak-season can be a bit risky as the demand is high and there is a lower chance of vacancy. Consider booking 3-6 months in advance for peak-season.
2. 6pm is the magical number
This is when most no-shows occur and rooms magically “pop back up”. If you’re in a pinch for a last minute hotel, this is the absolute best time to book. Similar to #1, be aware of peak-season and consider booking 3-6 months in advance.
3. Lock-in your hotel room
A lot of hotels will provide advance purchase rates. These are typically discounted rates for booking up to 30 days in advance and paying in full. While the conditions can be strict and you’ll likely not be able to cancel the room, you can score some great savings, typically around 10-20% off the list price.
4. Just ask!
Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of courage to just ask for a deal. Especially for last minute same-day bookings, just calling in or asking the front desk for a deal can yield some hefty savings. A hotel room is a perishable item, and depending on the type and location of the hotel, they might offer you a potentially steep discount. Big chains can be a bit stingy though, so your best bet is to try for a smaller, boutique hotel. A great way to find boutique hotels and compare prices is hotels.com.
5. Skip the early check-in and arrive late!
Sounds a bit backwards, right? Well in this one case you’d be wrong. By being one of the last to arrive at the hotel, you might just get upgraded to a better room. The reason being that the cheapest base-level rooms tend to fill up the fastest. And if the hotel has over-booked these rooms for any reason, you’ll get an upgrade at no extra cost. Tip: email or phone in ahead of time to confirm you’ll be arriving later.
6. Extend your stay
Most big hotel chains offer discounts or free days for longer stays at their properties. This is particularly true of vacation hot-spots such as a Caribbean. If you’ve only booked a night or two, consider taking a bit more time off. Not only will you have a bit more time to relax and enjoy yourself, but you’ll get to do so while paying less!
7. Use a flash sale operator
Are you feeling lucky? Most chain hotels don’t offer big discounts as part of their policy. But one way around this is to use a flash operator who will sell last minute rooms at bargain prices. The caveat to this is the name of the hotel is kept hidden until the sale is complete. There’s definitely a bit of luck involved and you may not be guaranteed the exact hotel you want, but you’ll likely be happy with the price you’ll pay.
8. Use a hotel aggregator site
If you’re not already using one then you’ve likely been overpaying for all of your hotel stays. Aggregator sites are a great way to compare rates offered by different hotels and different providers. The best part is that there’s no commitment. You can compare hotel prices and then shop elsewhere or price-match. And most of these sites offer recurring promos of up to 10% off list price. In this case, knowledge doesn’t just equal power, it equals savings!
9. Join a club!
No doubt you’ve seen countless promo emails for hotel reward programs or credit card points programs and just tossed them into the bin. But you’ve literally been throwing away money! Joining a hotel reward program can be amazingly lucrative, especially if you’re doing a lot of travel. Some rewards programs will start handing out rewards and free nights after just the 3rd or 4th stay. Joining a club is probably the most effort-free way to get deals, upgrades and free rooms!
10. Use a VPN
What on earth is a VPN you might ask? In the simplest terms, it is software that can hide or alter your location and identity while navigating the web. This is an ideal way to prevent hotel and trip operators capturing your data and search history and playing with your prices. Some VPNs allow you to pick your country, so you can easily check out what the prices are for the same hotel in another country’s home currency. You’ll be surprised at some of the big price differences.