How to get best Discounts on Hotels?
One of the major expenditures while traveling is accommodations. You need a comfortable and safe place to stay when you reach your destination. Cost plays a very important part in deciding the hotel you finally book for your stay. Whatever may be your preference – luxury, mid-range, or budget – it makes sense to get the best rates for the hotel room. However, this is easier said than done.
The hotel industry is prone to fluctuations due to huge competition and changing demands. The internet is flooded with websites offering you deals and discounts. It is quite common to find people staying in the same hotel at the same time paying different tariffs for their stay. So, if you want to make the most of your budget, you should always be looking for ways to save money during your travels.
Let us look at some tips that will help you get the hotel of your choice at cheaper prices without compromising the quality of your stay.
Get the Timing Right
Traveling in off-season or shoulder-season is the best way to get discounted rates. The hotels are looking for ways to fill rooms, and they slash their prices. If traveling in the off-season is not an option, book your stay during weekdays. Hotels in popular tourist destinations are in high demand during weekends, and the prices soar, so weekday trips can save you some bucks. If you are traveling to big cities & business hubs for official purposes, the scenario changes completely. Hotel prices will be higher during weekdays and lower during weekends.
Book Ahead with Free Cancellation
If you have decided to travel in the peak season, book well in advance with the free-cancellation option. This way you will get exceptionally good rates with flexibility. The non-refundable rates would be even cheaper, but better to go with refundable rates as there is always a chance that you may not use the bookings. If the prices drop after you have booked, you can always cancel and rebook with cheaper rates. Check the cancellation policy of your booking and the last date for free cancellations. In case of changed plans, don’t forget to cancel your bookings.
Join Hotel Loyalty Program
Nowadays, many hotel-chains run a free-to-join loyalty program and it pays to sign-up for them. The program allows you to earn reward points against your stays that can be redeemed later for free nights. A reward program of a good hotel chain is a win-win situation for the hotel guests. The hotels offer special deals for their loyal customers, keep you updated with newsletters, give free room against accumulated points, offer free breakfast and often upgrade your room. Before signing up for a loyalty program, make sure that the hotel-chain caters to your desired specifications, has sufficient presence in the areas you intend to visit, and gives good returns for your points.
Sign up for the Hotel’s Rewards Credit Card
This is another way to get some free-bees from the hotel. Lots of hotels have a credit card that is affiliated with their reward program. When you sign-up for a hotel’s credit card, you are automatically upgraded to a high loyalty status. This means you get bonus points for every expenditure, plus some free nights and upgrade vouchers. The points can be accumulated by using the card for your everyday purchases.
Check fare comparison websites
Never make a hotel booking without checking a few booking portals like Booking.Com, Agoda, Expedia, and Orbitz. Checking so many sites can be time-consuming and overwhelming. It is best to use comparison sites like Tripadvisor.com, Kayak.com, HotelsCombined.Com, Farecompare.com, and Trivago.com. These sites help you compare the hotel-tariff offered by different third-party booking portals for specified dates. Run a comparison and make your booking on the portal offering the cheapest rates. You can also negotiate with your favorite portal or the hotel itself and make your bookings there.
Join the Loyalty Program of Booking Portals
Even third-party booking portals like Booking.Com, Hotels.Com, Expedia, Agoda offer loyalty programs. If you keep making your reservation with them, you accumulate reward points, get special offers and extra perks like free parking/breakfast/Wi-Fi and late check-out. So, zero down on a third-party portal and try to make your bookings through them whenever possible. The advantage of joining these portals is that you get rewards irrespective of the hotel you are opting for. The reward points can be used to book rooms in any hotel, not just a particular chain.
If you don’t want to restrict yourself to a single hotel chain, the loyalty program of booking portals works better. Be sure of the portal you choose. Some portals charge sneaky commissions, do not honor cancellations, and are generally very unresponsive when you need them. My personal favorite portal for booking a hotel is Booking.Com as it is reliable and easy to use.
Look for Last-Minute Deals
Waiting for last-minute deals is not a very reliable option, but it really works sometimes. Hotels that are not filled-up, often offer heavily discounted rates to fill up the empty rooms. If you have not able to get good rates for your stay and have a back-up option, wait till the last moment. You might land up with a real bargain. It is a risky proposition, so you should always have a Plan-B in place.
Book Extended Stays
Hotels prefer clients who stay for extended periods as it saves costs of cleaning, housekeeping, check-in, etc. So, many times you are offered discounts if you are willing to stay for longer periods. If that is the case, instead of changing hotels frequently, make yourself comfortable in a hotel and explore adjoining areas by taking day-trips
Choose Business Hotels and New Hotels
Business hotels may not be as glamorous and well-equipped for vacations as resorts and luxury hotels, but they are much more affordable. If you want to save on accommodation, stay at a business hotel. You might be missing on many fun-elements and amenities, but you can use that money to explore the region in a better way. New hotels also offer big discounts to customers to woo them away from their preferred hotels. Why not take advantage and stay there? The rooms are new and sparkling and you can expect better services as the hotel is trying to promote its brand.
Stay in a family room
If you traveling in a group or with kids, you can choose a bigger room that can accommodate 3-4 people. It may invade your privacy and there might be a queue to use the bathroom, but the cost difference would definitely compensate for the inconveniences. Booking two rooms will inevitably be much more expensive than a family room or a quadruple room, so why lose an opportunity to save big bucks?
Opt for Vacation Rentals and Airbnb’s
You should always stay at villas, Airbnb’s, and vacation rentals if you are traveling with family or friends; They not only save money but also give you more space and privacy. Additionally, you can cut costs by cooking and doing laundry. Staying in apartments means that you have to cook and clean, but then the savings would be substantial, especially if the group is big.
Look for region-specific portals
Sometimes it pays to book with region-specific booking portals as they have offers for smaller and local hotels-chains that may not be covered by the larger booking portals. For example, Makemytrip or Cleartrip may provide you with cheaper rates for small Indian hotels.
Use Travel Agents and Contacts
Travel agents can sometimes get you a better deal than search-engines and hotel websites. They have a tie-up with hotels or some internal set-up that gives them special rates. It doesn’t harm to look around and tab some reliable sources to check if you could get some phenomenal offer for a hotel stay.
Stay out of the City
If you are going to stay downtown or near the tourist attractions, it is going to cost you more. Stay away from the city, but near the public transport so that you can have easy access to the city center and major sights. If you have a car, you can easily stay on the outskirts of the city where the lodgings are substantially cheaper.
Buy someone else’s reservation
Recently, a new concept is gaining popularity. You can reserve a hotel room that some travelers had booked but are now unable to use or cancel. He is now willing to sell and transfer the room at a discounted price to someone else so that he does not lose the entire amount. Such hotel rooms are sold at a portal called Roomertravel.com. It is not a bad option to try. You can get really good hotels at enviable rates.
Follow these tips and you should be able to save some money on your next hotel reservation. If you can think of any other hacks, feel free to comment below.