You’ve finally decided to take a much needed vacation to that place you’ve dreamt about since the third grade. Hooray. Now, unless you plan on literally living out of your suitcase (frankly the cheapest option) you’ll most likely want a real roof over your head and a warm blanket on your bed. Below are four must-read tips for getting the best price on a hotel room when you book online.
1. The Early Bird Gets to Stay in the Birdhouse.
The first rule of online accommodation hunting: start months in advance of your expected travel date. Even if you’re committed to snatching up that 11th hour deal using an app like Hotel Tonight, it’s in your best interest to leave yourself plenty of lead time to compare rates for a roster of hotels, using aggregators like Hotels.com, and to find the most rewarding discounts.
Hasty booking can lead to buyer’s remorse when you see, perhaps even the very next minute, a deal flash across your screen for the same room at a slashcut price. Preparation is especially crucial when planning a trip during a peak season: if you wait too long, you’ll get boxed out of the majority of hotels, and the vacant room you do find will likely be priced way above market value because of the abundant demand. Google Hotel Finder will tell you the most affordable times of year to vacation (hint: it’s usually in the off-season).
Also, keep your eyes open for a low price guarantee from a third party affiliate. With these sites you can book well in advance, and if the room happens to drop in price before the cancellation date, the portal you booked through will refund you the difference.
2. Discounts Discounts Discounts
Coupon cutting isn’t just for grocery store runs. Discounts on hotel rooms abound, you just need to know where to look and what to look for. First, scour the hotel’s website for promotions they might be overtly hosting. Second, trawl the internet for discounts at Hotels.com and other travel sites that can slash percentage points of your bill.
Second, take advantage of the organizations (and demographic) you belong to: if you are a member of A.A.A., A.A.R.P., the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, or other groups, you often qualify for immediate discounts on your room. Oftentimes hotels will not honor two discounts on the same bill, so ask the manager or clerk to advise you on which discount you should use.
3. Think Hotel-Holistically
A hotel is just one ingredient in your vacation pie, so you’ve got to step back and take a look at how exactly it’s going to fit in. For instance, you may think you’re getting a great deal on a hotel, but if it’s situated somewhere in the sticks you might be spending your extra money (and more) on cab fare or public transportation.
Similarly, you might want to consider a travelers package which bundles all the elements of your trip together: if you come across the right package, you could end up spending less on a nicer hotel. That said, if you know you’ll be spending a lot of time outside your hotel, why drop heavy cash on it? There are tons of more reasonably priced options.
4. Raise Your Voice
Lastly, and this might sound too good to be true, but you can name your price. How? Two ways.
The first: you can still haggle, yes haggle, with the manager of a hotel for a cheaper room (especially if it’s the off-season and you know the place is mostly vacant), or for extra amenities or even free ones. Remember the old adage: you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. So force a smile, or if you can, some tears.
The second way is by online bidding. At Priceline.com you can submit a bid for a room over a number of days. You can be as undercutting as you like with this as long as you’re ready to accept that price: because if you win the bid, you’ve got to foot that bill. Good luck.
There is absolutely no reason why you need to pay ticket price for a hotel room. So why should you? And after you’ve tried these tricks, get creative and let us know your secrets.