After quite a few vacations, I’ve developed my own system towards evaluating hotels and trying to get the best hotel deals on our rooms. I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips at getting your preferred hotel at the best price.
Discount Club Membership Rates
Many hotels have discounted code options if you belong to certain clubs. It’s often available directly on their online booking portals. Some of my favorites “club” discounts are for AAA (CAA), Entertainment Card, military and senior members. Just be sure you travel with your club membership card to verify the rate when you check in. When we travel with my mom, the senior rate is often a great deal. If you’re not sure what club membership discounts a hotel has, just call. They can often give you more information, and sometimes the rate is only available by phone (Disney).
Direct Deals & Offers
If you look online at your hotel’s website they often have a deals & offers tab or section. It’s always a good idea to input your dates and see what price you’re quoted initially, without a deal code, then compare it to the hotel deals listed. Sometimes you’ll have to do some math and figuring in cases of packages that include things like free parking and breakfast. Many times those package offers aren’t really a great deal, however sometimes they do turn out to be a better deal if you’re going to eat or park on site. Another tip is to pick up the phone and call the hotel directly, not the national customer service line. You never know what kind of deal you can get directly with the front desk.
Third Party Booking
Many of you probably know about all the third party hotel deal sites out there. Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, Bing, Hotels.com, and Trivago, etc. have all made a name for themselves as a go to spot for booking your hotel room. You can also look to AAA and Costco for hotel deals. These third party companies can occasionally have different promotions running that can give you a deal or bonus if you book with them, like cash back or free breakfast. You can also even earn some cash back with some by linking to their site through ebates.com first. Just be aware that sometimes third party bookings are treated differently by the hotel and you might have a smaller room, different cancellation policies, or miss out on earning reward points.
Name Your Own Price
If you’re not set on a specific hotel or amenities you might consider naming your own price through Priceline. We’ve had good luck in the past with this method, however it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes some online research to figure out which hotels are being “won” and where exactly they’re at in your destination. Sometimes hotels sneak in that are generously awarded a star level by Priceline that they don’t deserve. Or the area could be more encompassing than you realize and you could end up far away from your preferred location. You also have to be on the lookout for resort fees that get tacked on your per night charge by the hotel when you check in. Most of these things can be found out with some good internet sleuthing, but it takes a bit of work. You also often don’t earn reward points for these stays.
Get an Upgrade
Once you do your booking legwork and get the best rate possible for your room, you have one more opportunity to get a deal…ask for an upgrade. This is especially beneficial if you’re celebrating a special occasion. Call the hotel directly the night before or morning of check-in and ask for an upgrade. My calls typically start off with, “I’d like to confirm our reservation for tomorrow/today”. Then after they find me in their computer I make my request, “we’re having a romantic anniversary getaway from our kids, so if there are any upgrades available we’d really appreciate it”. It doesn’t always work, however, it’s worth a shot. We’ve found ourselves occasionally getting bumped up a room category. Just don’t count on this method if you require the extra space or amenities offered by the higher category room.
Those are some of my best and favorite tips for scoring hotel deals on your room. Even saving $10 a night over a week can pay for a family meal or souvenirs on our vacation. Hope these tips are helpful! Also, check out this post with tips for getting good sleep while staying in a hotel.