With all of the advertising the travel websites put out there, it’s easy to believe that there is no way to get a better rate on a hotel room than those available online. While you absolutely can get great deals that way, it certainly isn’t the only way.
Not only can you get great deals on rooms without searching a dozen different travel sites, you can sometimes do even better than what they have available online.
Get the Best Hotel Deal by Calling Directly
The first thing to do when seeking the best hotel deal is to call the hotel directly. Skip the 800 number, which will only send you through to a call center. The people answering the phones on those lines don’t have any real power, and they aren’t authorized to negotiate. Instead, get the phone number for the hotel itself, and ask to speak to a manager or supervisor. The front desk clerk doesn’t have much in the way of authority either!
When you call, make sure you are prepared with a list of how much the rooms in that hotel are going for online. That way you will know what rate is really a good deal, and what is simply the same price you could have gotten elsewhere. Be prepared to stand firm and let the manager know that you know what the going rate is online.
If your stay is more than a night or two, you will probably have more bargaining power. The longer you plan to stay in the room the more likely the manager is to offer a discount hotel rate. Knowing they will have that room guaranteed to be filled for a certain number of nights makes them more willing to cut a deal on the rate.
Get a Last-Minute Deal
You can also get better discounts if you call on short notice or arrive without a reservation. This isn’t always the best way to plan a trip, but if the hotel has a number of unfilled rooms for the upcoming days and doesn’t have much walk-in traffic, they might be more willing to take a lower amount for the room rather than let it stand empty. This is especially true of weekday stays, when the odds of travelers coming into the hotel unexpectedly are lessened. The more empty rooms they have, the better the chance they will negotiate. If you are on a road trip and stopping for the night, take a quick look at the parking lot. If it’s relatively empty, odds are good there is some wiggle room on that rate.
Use the Competition to Get the Best Hotel Deal
Playing hotels against each other, especially competing chains, can be a great way to get the best hotel deal. After you get the best rate from one hotel, call a nearby competitor and let them know you will select their hotel if they are willing to beat the competition’s rate for a similar room. Again, be sure you are speaking with someone who has the authority to give you a better rate! You may have to try a few hotels, but odds are good that someone will be willing to drop their rate a little more in order to grab some business away from a top competitor.
Ask for Other Discounts
If you are sure you have obtained the best possible rate the hotel is willing to give, there are still some ways to save a few more dollars. Many hotels, especially in crowded downtown areas where parking is at a premium, charge a nightly rate for you to park your car in their lot. This charge can be astronomical – as high as $30 or more in some cities. If you can’t get a lower rate, ask if the hotel is willing to throw in free parking. On a stay of several nights this can save you a lot of money, and a lot of hassle too. There are some other add-ons you can request be thrown in for free as well, such as pay per view movies or complimentary snacks or beverages. All of these things can lessen the overall cost of your stay at a hotel, especially on extended vacations.
Look for hotels that are a little off the beaten path when it comes to selecting a place to negotiate with. The big hotels that are in major tourist areas are often full and don’t need the business badly enough to be willing to negotiate. Those that are a little more out of the way will likely have more open rooms, which makes them much more anxious for the business and willing to make concessions. You may have to travel a bit further, but the savings can be well worth the minor inconvenience. These hotels are also less likely to have a fee for parking, saving you even more money.
The Art of Negotiation
You have more negotiating power than you know, and with the current economic situation being what it is, business owners are more likely than ever to be willing to make a deal. It’s better for them to be making some money on a hotel room rather than no money at all as it stands empty. If you take the right approach and are willing to present your case in an informed and clear manner, your odds of getting a discount are fairly good. Just remember that you need to be speaking with someone in charge, and not just whoever has answered the phone, as they are probably just an employee with no power to make such decisions.
Hotel rooms are one of the many areas where negotiation is not just possible but fairly common. Unlike a retail product that keeps the same price no matter what, hotel rates can fluctuate based on the season, the day of the week and how full the hotel is. There is always a range of rate you can pay for any given room; but to be sure you are getting the best hotel deal, you have to be willing to ask, and not take no as an immediate answer. Being persistent is the biggest key to success, and trying certainly can’t hurt!