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Planning a trip soon? Use the following tips to score yourself some major hotel travel savings. If you haven’t tried these before, you are seriously missing out!
Hotel Travel Savings Tips:
What to ask for when you arrive…
Skip the View (for now): If traveling off-season, book a room without a view and ask for an upgrade later. For beach or mountain travel, you can usually take a chance on waiting until you arrive to book a room with a view. Many times when traveling off-season, I have gotten free room upgrades just for asking! This does not always work, but it is always worth a shot.
If you can travel late at night, you can possibly get a huge discount: A great example of this is stopping halfway on a long road trip. If you arrive in the middle of the night, ask for a discount! Another way to gauge this possibility is by calling when you are an hour out. When you call, explain that you are considering staying overnight to break up your trip. You may be offered an unadvertised price since you will only be staying a few hours.
Be aware of all the options…
Consider staying in the next town over: If you are headed to a popular city destination, look for neighboring towns and save major cash. For example, if you are visiting Washington, D.C., stay in Arlington, Virginia instead to possibly save hundreds of dollars. Plus, you will only have around an 18 minute commute!
If you haven’t tried Priceline yet, you are missing out: Do you have champagne taste on a beer budget?🙋 If so, you will love Priceline! I have booked four star resorts for insanely low prices by bidding. If you are nervous about bidding, try Express Deals. Similar to bidding, you will not see the hotel name until payment. Usually, you can get a good idea by looking at the map and reading their “compare to” notes about the deal. I have only guessed the wrong hotel once, but I still loved where I stayed!
Consider booking a vacation rental: After factoring in food costs, you might actually save more by booking Turnkey, Airbnb or VRBO. Look at a map and search for the next town over for more options and possibly bigger savings.
Book Off Season: Headed to the beach? Go when tourist season ends to soak up the warm weather and avoid crowds. Plus, save big by booking off-season prices. If you aren’t sure when the prices will drop, ask for a rate card. You may be able to have the entire year’s rates emailed to you. A great time to do this is when you are set on a specific hotel. This has worked well for me at places that rarely offer savings.
As you can see from the image above, I had an email sent to me with rates for an entire year! Just look at how much the price drops from season to season! For the Mini-Suite, the price in Summer Peak is $429. If I decide to travel Thanksgiving or Christmas instead, I pay just $199!
Get familiar with the entire hotel site…
Book in Packages: Although the initial amount is higher, depending on what you are planning, it might make sense to book a package. For example, my husband and I booked a Taste of Fall package last year. The only thing in the package was an appetizer and two beers at the hotel. However, the hotel room was unbelievably cheaper than booking without a package. Plus, we knew we would be eating some at the hotel anyway.
Even if you are not planning an activity, you can often book a meal at the hotel to get a package price. You will probably be buying food anyway, so why not!? Packages change often so be sure to check often in months before booking. Check the site thoroughly as packages are not always in the same place as reservations.
Check for Other Specials: If packages are not available, check for seasonal specials. On countless occasions, I have found cheaper rates by browsing the site more thoroughly. Specials are not always in the same place as reservations. If prices are not listed, do not be afraid to call. Sometimes prices are too low to list on a site.
Play Around with Dates: Do you really have to travel on a weekend? If you have been banking time off, you could save hundreds by booking Thursday-Saturday instead of Friday-Sunday. Also, skipping to the next week will often slash the price. Make sure to click around different dates in the month to be sure you are getting the best price. An easy way to do this is to check the box to include flexible dates when possible (see image above). The hotel does the work for you with this option.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to browse incognito or delete cookies so you do not see a major price spike!
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone…
Make the Call: You may be shocked at rates when comparing online prices to phone prices. Since discovering this trick, I never book online without calling first. If the price is higher, simply ask if there are any discounts available. Do not be afraid to politely decline booking on the phone if the price is not what you want. Sometimes you may even get another last chance offer to seal the deal before hanging up! In a world of texting and online booking, a rare phone call sometimes offers the most savings.
Always Check “Best Available” & “Advance Purchase” Rates: Even if you have membership savings such as AAA, you may save even more with Best Available Rate. If you do not see this rate displayed, look for “show more” or call. Save money by booking ahead with Advance Purchase Rate. Some hotels only require a week out to get Advance Purchase prices!
Points and Other Perks…
Loyalty Programs: Sign up for loyalty programs, even if you think you will never be back. You might be surprised at how many hotel chains are owned by the same company. Plus, some loyalty programs have long expiration dates. Even if points expire, some programs allow you to spend just a few points to keep the account active. For example, Marriott’s Reward Program allows you to spend points to prevent points from expiring. I was shocked when after one stay I had enough points to redeem for a Marriott Gift Card! My account stayed active and I got a free gift card so it was like I didn’t lose anything!
Another reason to join loyalty programs is you often get freebies that would otherwise be pricey. For example, Marriott Rewards offers free Wi-Fi when you have a Rewards Account. Sometimes Wi-Fi can run your bill up to $20 per day, yuck! Avoid these unnecessary charges by signing up for rewards.
Join the Email List: Sign up to be on the email list for your favorite hotels to possibly snag exclusive savings. If you don’t want to crowd your inbox, create a separate email just for savings offers.
Follow hotels on Social Media: Be the first to hear about exclusive savings and offers. Plus, get access to contests and other rewards you may not see elsewhere.
Celebrating something? Don’t be afraid to give yourself a shout out to the front desk. Even if you do not get a discount, you could get a room upgrade, a free dinner…the possibilities are endless! I have often gotten room upgrades by sharing this information with the front desk upon check-in. You will never know unless you try.
Whip out those Membership Cards & Flash Your Status: Are you an AAA or AARP member? Don’t forget to show your card! If you are a veteran, senior citizen, government employee, teacher, etc., ask if discounts are offered. Most of the time the answer is yes!
Always Check the Deal Sites…
Groupon, LivingSocial and TravelZoo: Before you book, be sure and check Groupon, LivingSocial and TravelZoo for shockingly low prices. The best deals are often weekdays, so this may not be the best option if you can only book weekends.