Finding the best hotel deals can sometimes seem as elusive as chasing a rainbow. Of the literally thousands of rates, how do you know that you're getting the best one? To pay the least for the most during your next hotel stay, consider these tips on finding the best hotel deals:
Tips for Getting the Best Hotel Deals
Hotel so-called "rack rates," the ones that are posted on the back of the hotel door, are rarely the best rates available. To improve your chances of getting the best hotel deals, I offer the following advice:
- Ask; Then, Ask Again - Many hotel deals are not advertised or offered unless you ask for them. Always throw out a line, such as "Is this the best rate for this room?" before finishing the transaction. Ask this when you make the reservation and again when you check in. (Things change.)
- Travel Off Season - For all my talk about hotel deals, if you are traveling to Las Vegas on New Year's Eve, to Paris during fashion week, or other high volume periods, you will likely pay the "rack rate." However, if you can visit Europe in January, February, or March; the Caribbean in the fall; or Hong Kong in the summer, for example, you'll have a much better chance of getting a low hotel rate.
- Be Flexible - Just as with air travel, it pays to be flexible in your travel dates and individual hotel choice to get the best deal. For example, the St. Regis at Central Park in New York might be sold out of discounted rates, but the Essex House next door may be available at a fraction of the cost.
- Use a Travel Agent - Using a travel agent can often get you a good hotel deal. Some agencies have their own special rates at certain hotels. Plus, because she works with travel all day, a good agent is likely to know where to look for the best deals.
- If All Else Fails, Upgrade - If all of your best efforts have been unsuccessful in getting a low hotel rate, ask for an upgrade. It can't hurt and you may just find yourself in a suite for the price of a standard room.
Help on the Internet
Web surfers can find help with hotel deals on the web. Below are just some web resources for finding good hotel rates. Again, no one site has all of the best deals. You have to compare them to other discounts.
- Hotels.com - The leader in Internet hotel sites, visit here to start your web search.
- Travelocity - This mega-travel company offers negotiated discounts at thousands of hotel properties around the world - some of which are surprisingly low.
- Priceline - No longer a bidding site, Priceline.com is easy to use and advertises that you can save up to 50 percent off with their hotel rates.
It Pays to Belong
Many hotels offer discounts to certain groups. Most of these rates are never offered. You have to ask for them. Some of the most common are:
- Corporate Rates - Corporate rates are offered at most hotels. Some of these are deep discounts offered exclusively to specific companies that frequently stay at a specific hotel, but many hotels and resorts offer a sort of generic corporate rate that applies to anyone traveling on company business, whether you work for a one person (you) home-based company or a multi-million dollar conglomerate. Some of these rates are the lowest rate; some are not, but it never hurts to ask.
- AAA Discounts - The American Automobile Association (AAA) has hundreds of negotiated rates for its members at hotels around the United States.
- AARP Discounts - Don't be insulted the next time you get an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) application in the mail. You only have to be 50 years old to join and this huge organization offers its members substantial savings on hundreds of hotels.