Headed on vacation? Traveling on a budget? Looking for a great deal on accommodation? Get the most out of your next vacation by booking your hotel at Hotels.com. And, for a great deal, keep these top tips in mind to get the best price.
A strict itinerary is the most expensive thing you can take with you on vacation. If you can travel on different dates, or are open to visiting various cities, you have more options with how to save. A flexible schedule gives you the best opportunity to find a great deal.
Unless it’s your only chance to get away – skip the holidays and busiest times of the year. Going to San Diego? Skip Fourth of July. Want to to see New York City? Not on New Year’s Eve. How about New Orleans? Better be ready to spend big bucks if you want to go for Mardi Gras. Skip the crowds and search for less popular dates. Similarly, if you can avoid the weekends, you’ll be more likely to score a deal.
Have specific dates, but haven’t decided on your destination? Search Hotels.com’s Daily Deals and Last Minute Deals sections for the lowest prices to the most popular spots in the world. You can score up to 50% off regular rates and may be inspired to go somewhere you never imagined.
Hotels.com gives you so many ways to save – in fact, there are almost too many options. It’s important to understand how their deals work in order to maximize rewards. Remember, not all discounts are created equal.
Stack perks whenever possible. Use a credit card that gives you travel perks when you make your booking. Join the Welcome Rewards® program and earn free nights. Check for AAA promos. Use coupon codes. Just keep in mind – some deals negate each other. Compare the various discounts available to see what saves you the most.
For example, you cannot use coupon codes and collect Welcome Rewards® credits on the same reservation. You must choose one or the other. Since you collect a free night for every ten when collecting rewards, you essentially get 11 stays for the price of 10 – roughly a 9% savings. Therefore, if you can find a coupon giving you 10% off or more, you should use it instead of collecting Welcome Rewards®. To the contrary, if the coupon is less than 9%, frequent travelers should choose the Welcome Rewards® points to net better overall savings.
Filter for Amenities to Avoid
Don’t pay for something you can get for free. What’s more – don’t pay for things you don’t want or need.
If you don’t need a pool, sauna, and gym – why would you pay for one? Many hotels tack on expensive “resort fees” for their amenities. Look for a hotel with only amenities that you actually need. Not a fan of continental breakfast? It’s probably less expensive to book a hotel that doesn’t provide one.
There is one amenity we all can’t seem to live without – WiFi. However, charging for WiFi is one of the biggest ripoffs – especially since so many people have smart phones that provide their own connection and carry out the majority of tasks we do online. If you plan on using something other than your phone, be sure to select “Free WiFi” under the amenities filter if you need an internet connection. Paying to go online is like paying for shipping – we just don’t want to do it.
Similarly, if you’ll be driving, you should compare the cost of hotels with free parking vs. those without. Hotel parking prices are notoriously high. Free parking can add up to big savings.
Get creative with filters that matter most to you. One of our favorites at CouponPal is to search for a 5-star hotel at a 4-star price. Set the guest rating to the max (4.5-5). Then, select all hotels with a star rating of 4. This leaves you with a list of hotels delivering a luxurious experience at a lower cost.
Bonus Price Hacks
Ever wonder how online travel sites choose what to show you in the search results. Well... according to a Northeastern University study of e-commerce websites, Hotels.com and its parent company Expedia, systematically A/B test users and steer them towards booking more expensive hotels. What’s that mean? Simply put, if Hotels.com recognizes you, it tests showing you different options and frequently presents you with more expensive options that you are likely to book.
What can you do about it? Test Hotels.com right back! Mix up how you browse – logged into your account, logged out, in one browser and another, clear your cookies, and/or use incognito mode and see what recommendations and deals Hotels.com shows you. You can always log in when you find the best deal for you and book your stay. You’ll be surprised by some of the deals that pop up.
Just as Hotels.com provides different search results to users based on various factors, they often provide different deals to mobile users than they do to computer users. Check to see if any coupons are listed as “mobile-only.” If you find a good one, you’re better off making the reservation on your phone, tablet, or through their app.
The savings don’t stop when you book your hotel. Many people don’t realize it, but you can actually contact your hotel directly after making a reservation. That’s just one more opportunity to get a great deal. David Robert Hogg at MyLittleNomads.com recommends that you, “Book the least expensive room through [Hotels.com], then contact the hotel directly to inform them of special requirements or enquire about any available upgrades.”
Have a tip of your own? Share it with us on Twitter @CouponPal with hashtag #hoteltip. We’ll continue to share the latest tips and tricks, and you might just see yours online!