Ben Todd | Jun 3, 2017 | 2
How to Find the Cheapest Hotel Room: Sites To Use And Sites You Should Avoid
Here is a big juicy article full of ways you may save money on your hotel stays. The article starts with the three types of websites that you should and shouldn’t use (it becomes clear later). Suffice it to say that once you understand how certain websites work, and once you understand the pros and cons of each, you will be in a better position to manipulate them. After our short lesson on which sites you should and shouldn’t use, there is a long list of tips on how to save money on hotel rooms.
Avoid Comparison Websites (Sometimes)
Comparison websites are good for preliminary research. They tell you what companies have deals and roughly how much they are charging. However, comparison websites are not as fair as they seem. Comparison websites manipulate what you see so that the companies that pay the highest commissions are the ones that appear the cheapest.
Use a comparison website to find out what companies are out there, and add what you see to your list of potential companies. Continue your research around the Internet to find other companies and add those to your list.
Once you have a list of the many companies that offer the service you desire, you may then go through each and get a quote from each to see which is the cheapest and to see which will offer you the best deal (because sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best).
Avoid Travel Agency Websites (Sometimes)
Some travel agencies have set up deals with hotels that allow the travel agency to offer lower rates than the hotel offers. Also, if the travel agency bundles your hotel together with other offers, then they may be able to give you better prices for your hotel.
However, travel agencies are still third-party providers. You can go to the source by going straight to the hotel and getting a price from them. Also, there are lots of hotels that are not offered by travel agents.
For example, a travel agent may offer rooms in 15 hotels in a city at an average rate of $90 per night. But, there may actually be 25 hotels in the city, and the remaining 10 hotels have an average rate of $60. Instead of using the travel agent, you could find the other hotels (the ones that are not listed by the travel agency), and get a better rate.
Avoid Hotel Websites (Sometimes)
There are good reasons to approach a hotel website and get a quote, such as the reasons given above. However, there are some hotels that have to offer a higher standard rate in order to remain affiliated with a third-party company.
For example, you are a hotel and you work with company Alpha. Company Alpha sends lots of visitors your way. They offer their customers a room in your hotel for $80, and you give company Alpha a commission of $17 for each visitor they send. However, Alpha will not work with you unless your room rate is artificially inflated to £120. When people call your hotel, you have to charge them $120 or company Alpha will refuse to work with you.
Avoid Comparison, Travel Agency, & Hotel Websites
As you can see by the arguments above, there are good reasons why you should avoid these websites, and there are good reasons why you should use them. The key to exploiting them is simply by understanding how they work. The paragraphs above explain both why these websites are great, and why they are no good. Use what you have learned to improve your research process, so that you may exploit these websites like a pro.
Negotiate Your Way To A Much Lower Price
Many travel agencies and booking websites have a “Best Price Guarantee.” Their guarantee is your invitation to take the lowest prices you can find and ask them to beat it.
Most of the booking websites with a best price guarantee are confident you will not beat their prices because they think they will win on technicalities. For example, you may say, “Hotel X offers rooms at $50, can you beat it” and the booking website will reply with, “We have rooms with Hotel X for $55, but ours have pool privileges and the offer you are quoting doesn’t”
The booking website is going to claim that the offer you are quoting isn’t the same as theirs, but you have two advantages. The first is that they want your business, so some booking companies will blur the lines if it means getting your business. Secondly, you can gather together 60 counter offers that have lower prices than the company with the best price guarantee, and you can submit all of them one at a time and barrage the company with rates until they finally give you a better one.
The easiest way to negotiate a better price is to get a quote from company A and ask company B,C,D, and E to beat it. When one of them does, such as company E, then take that quote to company A,B,C,D and ask them to beat it. Keep doing this over and over again until you get the lowest possible quote.
Shop Around To Find A Better Price
If you are reading articles on this website, then you are probably smart enough to know that you should shop around. As thanks for reading this far, here are some jokes: I called a gambling hotline because they told me that every 100th caller would be a winner. I also bought cheap Velcro, but it was still a rip off. My girlfriend wasn’t pleased that I surprised her with a trampoline bed…she hit the roof.
You know you are supposed to shop around, but what you need is reminding. Comparison sites are notorious for making us think we have shopped around when we haven’t. Use the tips on this article, and do & don’t use the three types of website mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Make Friends With Somebody In The Industry
Let’s face it; travel agents get the best deals on holidays. There are plenty of third-party booking companies that have employees who have special discounts. Nobody is saying you should befriend people because they work in the travel industry, but keep your ears open when you are networking. It may be worth keeping the contact details of people that work in the industry, especially if you can repay the favor somehow.
Look For Independent Booking Firms
There are some independent booking firms that have clever ways of getting you low prices on your hotel rooms. Some of them set up deals with the hotel such as the one mentioned at the beginning of this article, but they have other clever ways of offering low-cost hotel rooms while still making a profit.
One way is to buy up a block of hotel room stays at a bulk-buy discount and then sell them on for a profit. Another way is to snipe the lowest cost hotel rooms when the price fluctuates downwards and then sell the room when demand picks up again. Some offer lower hotel rates while cranking up the cost of other services, and some use a third-party money stream to offset the loss they make on hotels.
Shop Around With Travel Agencies For The Best Deal
You probably shouldn’t go walking into a travel agency or go calling them because they seem to punish people that use the old-fashioned methods. Don’t shop specifically for a hotel, shop for the best package deal. The cost of your hotel is not going to change dramatically from one travel agency to another, but the cost of a package will, especially if one company is offering loss-leading deals to try to undercut their competition.
Call The Hotel And Quote A Price You Were Given
Try the negotiating ploy on hotels as well as on booking agencies. Also, some hotels have website booking and phone numbers you can call to book, but you may be able to get a lower rate if you call the reception itself. To make it sound more natural, say that you have stayed there before and you would like to re-book. They may say that you should call the booking number, but say how you liked the service you received last time and you would rather talk to the reception staff than the call centre staff.
Look Into Business Hotels During The Slow Seasons
Off-season and off-peak times are always going to offer the best savings. There are some hotels that really push for business clients. They spend most of their marketing budget on attracting businesses, and when their off-peak times arise, they find themselves with empty hotels. Prey on these hotels when they are at their most desperate, and you may even pretend that you visited once with a group of your colleagues on business.
Tell Them If It Is A Special Occasion
Don’t pull the old, “It’s my birthday” trick because it is childish and frankly, you are better than that. However, if you are booking and you want a special room for something such as an anniversary, then tell them that is why you are looking for a special room. Even if you do not get a better rate, you may get better service when you arrive.
Do They Give Discounts For Any Of Your Memberships?
There are some hotels that try to attract groups by offering discounts to members. Maybe you are part of the republican party, or maybe you are part of Greenpeace. Do a little research into hotels that offer such discounts. They are not the sort of perks you will find on comparison websites.
Do They Give Discounts For Any Your Status?
There are hotels that give discounts for students, for pensioners, for kids and so forth. Yet again, these are factors that do not appear on comparison websites, which is yet another reason why you should do more research than simply checking the comparison websites.
Sign Up For Price Alerts And Check For Price Drops
Price alerts are fantastic if your trip is a long way away and you are a little flexible about what time you leave and what day you leave. Price drop alerts are brilliant because you can configure them in most cases to suit your specific needs, and you can set up a bunch of them and let the offers fight it out in your email inbox.
Ask For A Corner Room If There Are Any Available
A naughty little trick is to ask for a corner room. In many cases, the corner rooms are the same price as the other rooms on the floor, but you occasionally get a few square meters of extra room. In addition, there are times when the window situation and/or the view situation are a little better from the corner of the building because you are not overlooking the car park.
Check In Near The End Of The Day To Increase Your Chances Of An Upgrade
This is an old trick that some people claim still works (I have never tried it). The idea is that you check in late because it increases the chances of you getting an upgrade. I cannot see this working myself, and I cannot see any reason why a later check in would prompt staff to give you an upgraded room. Yet, there are some people online that claim they receive upgraded rooms when they check in late.
Does The Hotel Have A Marketing Department?
If the hotel is a chain, it may have a team of eager sellers on hand that are willing to desperately negotiate with you to increase their sales numbers. If the company has a marketing department, contact them first and see what deals you can get out of them. Then, call the hotel itself and see what they are offering.
Try Getting A Quote Within The Cancellation Period
This is another old trick that some people claim still works. The idea is that some hotels have a cancellation period where you have to pay a big fee or the full price if you cancel inside of the designated period.
Here is how it works; you book a hotel room 52 days before you wish to arrive. The cancellation period is over 30 days, which means you can cancel for the next 22 days, and once there is only 30 days or less, you are not allowed to cancel without paying a massive fee or paying full price.
The trick is to rent a room when there is only 30 days or less left until you take your room. That way it means you have not had a cancellation period. Since you have not had a cancellation period, the hotel offers you a lower rate on your room. There are apparently hotels that charge you a lower rate if you book within their cancellation period.
Seek Out Coupons Before You Seek Out A Room
Some people search out their perfect hotel room and then start looking for coupons. Consider doing it the other way around. Search for coupons and discounts firstly, and then find the hotels that are offering them and see if your discounted rate is better than what the other full-price hotels are offering.
Get A Hotel And Flight Bundle Booking
There are always cheap flight and hotel packages kicking around on the Internet. When a travel agency has a bit of redundant stock and needs to get rid of a few flights and hotel rooms, the travel agency will put together a very basic package with just a flight and a hotel and sell it off at a highly discounted rate. They figure it is better to break even on the remaining stock than it is to let it go to waste.
Sign Up For Free Loyalty Programs
It seems to work out well for some people. Sign up for a loyalty program, plan your trips accordingly and reap the benefits. You may not get the cheapest deals, but the rewards you receive and the future discounts may make up for it. Take the time to sign up to loyalty programs that reward you for things you were going to do anyway.
Try Newer Hotels That May Be Hungry For Guests And Reviews
New businesses are often hungry for new customers and new online reviews. They know that people search online for hotels, and they know that hotels that have no reviews are not as trusted.
Remember That Some Hotels Do Not Appear On Major Websites
Local directories and even Google maps may show you hotels that you cannot find on major travel websites. There are even hotels that have websites, but the websites are so poorly optimized that they do not appear on the Google search engine results. It is times like this when a little local knowledge is handy. It may even be worth looking at reviews of hotels in another language too, since they may review hotels that are not reviewed in English.
For example, the local hotel in Barcelona may appear on Google Spain, and there may be reviews of it in Spanish, but the hotel isn’t mentioned on English review websites and on US Google.