Many people believe that you can get a cheap hotel room by booking with travel sites, like Travelocity and Expedia, but that usually isn’t the case, particularly in the summer months. In fact, a lot of people are actually paying too much for their hotel rooms, simply because they don’t inquire about hotel discounts, and just take the rate they are quoted and deal with it. However, more often than not you can get your hotel room at a cheaper rate than you think- here’s how.
First of all, do your research. Call the hotel directly and ask their rate for the room you have in mind. Even if you are traveling alone, ask the rate for a King bed, Queen bed, or 2 Queens. Oddly enough, 2 beds are usually cheaper than one, by as much as $10! King beds are usually the most expensive rooms at a hotel, even though they are not any larger or nicer. If you opt for a Queen or 2 Queens, you can save money just by skipping the King bed.
Ask what discounts the hotel offers. Most hotels offer discounts for AAA, AARP, military or government, college students, or business. If you have any of these things, then you can get a cheaper rate from the hotel. Often, these rates are 5% or more cheaper than standard (RACK) rate for hotels.
If you are booking more than 2 or 3 rooms, you may be able to get a discount for booking what hotels would call a “group”. Some hotels that get booked in the summer won’t bend on a “group” rate, but others will jump on the opportunity to sell a lot of rooms during the season. With less travelers due to higher gas prices, hotels are wanting business. It never hurts to ask (ask for either the front desk manager or the sales department if you are planning on booking multiple rooms- front desk staff typically cannot do “group” rates).
Once you’ve been quoted the cheapest possible rate from the hotel directly, go to their online site and see if you can book the room even cheaper. Hotels want top dollar for their rooms, so if you call the direct hotel, they usually quote you higher rates than the corporate site has- often by as much as $10. If you can book your room online even cheaper than you can through the hotel directly, then by all means, jump on it. If you have a membership card for the hotel chain you want to stay at, you can save even more booking online. Hotel memberships (like Best Western Gold Crown rewards) are typically free. Make sure if you book online to call the hotel afterward to make sure they have your reservation on file, and that you booked the room correctly. You have no idea how many people book themselves a smoking room or a handicapped room online by accident. The hotel can fix your mistakes for you if you call them, and give you another confirmation number directly from the hotel.
If you are planning on booking your room through a travel site, like Expedia or Travelocity, then make sure you know what the hotel can give you as far as rates first, both through their online site and their direct hotel. Believe me, travel sites make you think you’re getting a deal, but you usually end up paying at least $5 more than the hotel’s highest rate. Just do your homework to make sure that if you are booking your room through a travel site, you are actually getting a great deal. And for your own security, make sure you call the hotel after booking to make sure the travel site booked your room correctly. I’ve seen firsthand travel site reservations that never got made through the hotel itself- even though you’ve prepaid for the room. Yikes!
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