- September 9th 2011
Guest post by Tony Patterson
Hotel rates can be quite varied. The exact room type on the same date can go for wildly different prices depending on the time of booking and many other factors. To be able to get the best deal possible, the savvy traveler can utilize a number of tips and industry secrets that are generally not known by the public.
Whenever someone is searching for a good deal, the first inclination would be to look online. This is helpful when it comes to comparing rates, but it is always best to call the hotel directly.
With a hotel that is part of a larger chain, calling the reservation number will not always reach the hotel. In most cases, the phone call goes to a Central Reservation System. The reservation agents at this call center generally operate under very specific guidelines and will not be able to work with the customer when it comes to negotiation of rates. If unsure, it is perfectly acceptable to ask if you have actually reached the hotel. If not, find the local phone number for the hotel online and call direct.
The reservation department or front desk staff at the actual hotel should be able to work directly with a customer on the room rate. In many cases, the front desk staff is allowed or empowered to negotiate rates within a certain set limit. If the staff member is not savvy or does not offer a discount that is agreeable, there is no harm in speaking with a supervisor. This person should have the appropriate authority and knowledge to be able to offer a great rate.
Hotel rates are incredibly liquid. These can vary depending on the season and can sometimes change on an hourly basis. In the hotel industry, rates are often changed due to supply and demand. If going to an area for a major event, the hotel rates in town can be significantly increased. When there is an incredibly high demand for hotel rooms, don’t be surprised to see rates that are doubled.
In these circumstances, it is wise to book far in advance. If this is done before a hotel can increase rates, you should consider yourself lucky. General rates for a hotel are set at least one to two years in advance, but when there are major conventions or conferences, these increased rates do not always get adjusted until closer to the date.
Look at The Competition
Depending on the hotel, there will be other options in the area. A hotel will usually price itself similarly to the competition. This information can be used as a bargaining tool. Be certain to review all of the amenities and features of the competition. For example, a competing hotel may offer a lower rate but the breakfast is an additional charge. When negotiating with the hotel, you may be able to get additional services such as the breakfast included for free.
The Extra Perks
Many times, a hotel guest will not take advantage of special perks and discounts that a hotel or other providers may offer. Before arriving at the hotel, checking with the local Visitors Bureau—it is a great way to gather information about the area and receive special coupons and discounts to area restaurants and attractions.
The hotel itself may offer a number of things to guests at no additional charge. These vary from one hotel to the next but can include wireless Internet, dining vouchers, shuttle service and more. The key is to ask about these amenities upon arrival. The front desk staff will not always go out of their way to tell offer the information unless asked.
To get the best value and most out of a hotel stay, the most important things would be to investigate and ask. Great deals can be had by any traveler. If you don’t ask or negotiate, you could be missing out and end up paying too much for a lower grade hotel room.
Photo credits courtesy of flickr: Fairmont Hotel Lobby in San Francisco by Pargon; Luxor Hotel Lobby in Las Vegas by Rob Young; Tokyo Bay Hotel by Masakazu Matsumoto.
A former hotel administrator, Tony Patterson is a personal finance consultant, and content contributor for companies offering consumers a credit card for bad credit situations they may have temporarily experienced.
- March 30th 2010
Do all-inclusives do it for you? I’ve tried all inclusive hotels a couple of times and I have to admit that I’m not a big fan. I know the reasons why it’s a good idea. If you’re on a budget sure it’s great to know exactly what your trip is going to cost you. And if there are lots of activities included it might be an even better deal.
Cutting The Cost Of Travel
There’s no denying that going all-inclusive helps to keep the costs under control, but watch out for hidden extras that may make the deal less appealing. For example, some friends of mine recently found that although there were several restaurant choices at their hotel they were only allowed to eat at the one they liked best two nights a week; any other time and they had to pay a supplement.
The other thing that irks me is that it can be hard to avoid the mentality that says: “I’ve paid for this; might as well grab everything I can.” That seems to turn the all-inclusive into a challenge rather than an enjoyable experience. Even worse is the tendency to feel restricted by the fact that you have paid upfront. Many people find that because they have chosen an all-inclusive experience they don’t want to leave the hotel, and they certainly don’t want to spend money on enjoying a cultural experience beyond the walls. I don’t suffer from that problem.
Soaking Up The Atmosphere
The last time I went all-inclusive I decided I didn’t want to do it again. I stayed at a hotel in the Canaries where I soon tired of the everlasting buffet and felt the need to go in search of culinary adventure. Luckily there were some great restaurants and bars on my doorstep and I had a much better time eating where the locals ate and soaking up the atmosphere.
Don’t get me wrong; if I’m staying in a hotel I love it when I don’t have to think about breakfast. However for other meals I prefer to get out and about. I certainly don’t want to have to rush back in the middle of the day for lunch, feel obliged to eat in or book a picnic basket (unless I’m going on a boat). I think you miss so much this way. It’s far more fun to hang out in a local bar and get a cold drink, grab some “street meat” (veggie variety in my case) or try the local fare on your way in. What about you? Have you ever gone all-inclusive? How did you rate the experience?
- May 28th 2009
Ever had anything stolen from your hotel room? Or from under your nose at the reception desk? This happens to many of us each day, but it doesn’t have to. Here are ten tips that will make your next hotel stay safer.Read more »
- January 13th 2009
Travelers from 35 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries now have to get approval through the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before traveling to the US. The web-based ESTA system was launched in August 2008 to determine the eligibility of those from VWP countries to enter the US. More than 1.2 million ESTA applications have been received so far, with more than 99 per cent of these approved. In most cases approval takes seconds and the permit lasts for up to two years or until the passport expires.
“We have been collecting information from visa waiver travelers for decades, and establishing a program to get that same information in advance is one enhancement that allowed us to extend the valuable benefit of visa-free travel to eight new countries in 2008,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “In addition to building business and cultural ties with our partners overseas, this is a commonsense step into the 21st century that will improve our efficiency in screening and welcoming international travelers at our ports of entry.”
DHS says it will take a ‘reasonable approach to travelers who have not obtained an approved travel authorization via ESTA, though such travelers may be denied boarding or admission to the US or may experience delayed processing. Find more information in ESTA here. Read more »
- December 18th 2008
The next time you take a business trip, the amenities may not be quite what you are used to. A couple years ago, when times were good, business travelers could expect to take their pick of freebies, such as toiletries, free breakfast, WiFi, cable, fitness centers and much more. But that may be in the past at some hotels. With the economic slump beginning to take hold, and forecasts that show unprecedented vacancy levels in the coming year, many hotels are cutting back on the freebies they offer guests, as well as resorting to innovative ways to get some people through the door.
Bye Bye Bathroom Freebies
Florida Today reported that with a reduction of up to 10 per cent in hotel occupancy already, two hotels in the Marriott chain have stopped having lotions and shower caps in the rooms – guests have to ask for them now. Coffee is no longer available 24/7 but only in the morning and afternoon. A Holiday Inn hotel in the Space Coast area has stopped handing out free newspapers and the breakfast is no longer a buffet to prevent food wastage. Hotels in other areas are cutting back on additional services such as gyms, reducing the amount of room service available and closing business centers.
Other hotels are taking a different approach and offering discounts (some of them very discreetly) to get people into the hotels. With way more hotel rooms than demand for occupancy, this is working well for some. Reducing room rates and offering free nights for extended stays are just two of the strategies being used.
The crisis isn’t just in the US, but worldwide and some luxury Caribbean hotels have taken the visitor attraction concept one step further, by allowing cash strapped hotel guests to pay for their stay in stocks. (Let’s hope they’ve picked a good one.
So business travel freebies haven’t totally disappeared; they’re just looking a bit different – and that could be good news for those planning a trip within the next year. Hotel rates are likely to fall, so it’s a good time for Stateside travel deals.