Friday, 27 March 2015

How to save money when booking hotel rooms

There is nothing more annoying than finding you have paid much more than you needed to spend to stay at the hotel of your choice.

Anyone paying the full rate for hotels in the current economic environment probably has more money than sense.

With discount websites abounding, and hotels often willing to match or better online prices, it pays to shop around before booking a $400 room that someone cannier than you might have snared for $240. 

There are many strategies that can be used in order to cut costs and find the cheapest room available - and bookings website recently uploaded a guide to some of the best ideas; ranging from telling the reception clerk that it's your honeymoon, to waiting until the very last minute to book. 

Among their tips:

  • Be flexible. By comparing several hotels in the same location you might find a cheaper price.
  • Free extras: Keep an eye out for hotels offering complimentary breakfast, free wifi, or lounge access. These can all help save cash. 
  • Book the standard. Standard rooms are generally the most affordable hotel rooms.
  • Think independent. Look beyond the big hotel chains. Independent hotels can offer excellent rates and services and are often up to 50% cheaper than chains.
  • Show you are loyal. Joining hotel loyalty programs or membership clubs can be a ticket to discounted rates or upgrades. These programs are usually free to join and you'll be able to take advantage of the benefits (better room placement or amenities, discount codes and sales) for your next stay.
  • Check your rate. Make sure the rate you are being offered includes taxes and additional fees. 
  • Know your seasons. Understand the peak seasons and the low seasons, and the events that will be occurring in the city you are travelling to at that time. These factors will affect the rate and availability of hotel rooms. 
  • Plan in advance.  Booking at least 30 days in advance will ensure you get the pick of the widest range of hotel room options. Not only can room prices jump in the lead up to a particular date, but the availability and room choice will be limited.
  • Extend your stay. Rates constantly change and you may find that it's cheaper to stay at a hotel from Saturday to Tuesday than from Wednesday to Friday.
  • Shop around online. Research is the key and you should be sure to check out as many options as possible. There are hundreds of sites out there offering different rates and options. Hotels Combined claims to compare them all. 
My top tip is to check online for the best price at the hotel you want to stay at, and then ring that hotel directly asking them for a better price. Remember they will be saving around 20% in commission that they would pay Expedia or Wotif. Ring during the day and ask to speak to the reservations department directly, as it is unlikely desk clerks will have the clout to do this. They may think you are a cheapskate; but you'll have saved a whole heap of cash. 

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