Here are some tips on how I save on hotels. This is a very subjective post, but I swear by my method. There are no coupons involved, just my advice and experience.
There are 2 main things you need to do: Educate yourself and Negotiate your hotel rate.
I have always heard that you can negotiate with hotels, but I had never actually done it until 2 years ago. It worked! I realize, it probably won’t work every time, but this will be my method of booking hotels in the future.
Step 1: Gather information
- Gather information on the best hotel deals by using sites like kayak.com, expedia.com, orbitz (etc) and Dunhill travel newsletter (free signup).
- Find several hotels in your price range. Jot down the names, numbers and prices of those hotels. Find a few hotels in a lower price range, and maybe even find a few in an upper price range that you want to stay at.
Step 2: Have a back-up plan
Typically, when you call to book a hotel, you have 48 hours or so to cancel and not be charged. Since, my plan is not guaranteed to work every time, I recommend booking a hotel just in case Step 4 doesn’t go as planned.
Step 3: Pray
Yes, I am serious, say a brief prayer before step 4, that God would give you the right words, a kind person on the other end of the phone, and that you would be able to save money!
It doesn’t have to be a fancy prayer and even if you don’t typically pray, it is never to late to start.
I believe God cares about you and the little things in your life, as well as the big things.
You of course can skip this step if you are truly not the praying type, but it has worked for me, so I highly recommend it.
Step 4: Negotiate your hotel rate:
This is where my savvy talking and tips come in to play. So, about 7 days before you are planning to start your vacation, grab your phone, and all your hotel info that you gathered. Call the hotel that you really want to stay at. If you can wait until 5 days before, you have a better chance of getting a great deal, but you also run the risk of everything being sold out.
Try something like this. Remember to talk sweetly, politely and calmly:
” Hi, I am wondering if you have any rooms available for [dates needed] and what the rates would be”
Obviously, if there are no rooms available, call your next choice.
Say there are rooms available and it turns out they are $150 a night. Say something like this:
“Oh, I really love your hotel, but that is a bit out of my budget. Is it possible for you to do any better than that?” They will most likely say yes and put you on hold. (You can probably get the discounted rate that a AAA coupon or a online deal will get you)
If they say no, ask to speak with a manager.
But, Say they come back with $140.
“Oh, thank you. I’m sorry, it’s just that money is super tight right now. And I really like your hotel and would really love to book it, but $140 is still out of my budget. Is there any possible way that you might be able to do any better than that?” At this point they will most likely put you on hold for even longer. Be prepared to wait, (multitask by cutting coupons or reading Generous Savings!) they will probably need to find a supervisor to give approval for this.
Hopefully they will come back with a lower offer. If they do, I would take the lower offer. If they don’t, see if you can book the hotel and have the option to cancel without being charged within 48 hours or so. And then move on to the next hotel and try negotiating again.
This negotiating thing has a better chance of working if it is not a peak travel season or a holiday. Obviously, it will depend on the hotel and how many vacancies they have available.
If you are not good with words or are nervous, bookmark this post or print it out and use it as a script.
Look for hotels that have breakfast included to save even more money.
If you don’t care to negotiate, Entertainment books, or AAA might offer some kind of discounts for you.
Keith and I were traveling to Cincinatti, Ohio in June 2010. We were planning on staying the weekend. We were on a very very tight budget and quite frankly the hotels we could afford, I wasn’t particularly fond of. There was a Doubletree Suites Hotel that was a bit above our budget, but looked soooo much nicer! So, about 6 days before we had to book I called them.
The conversation went something like the above one.
” Hi, I am wondering if you have any rooms available for this Friday and Saturday night and what the rates would be”
“Yes, we do. Our rates are $120 a night” (Now mind you, this was the SAME rate that all the discount deal sites gave me!)
“Oh, wow, is it possible for you to do any better than that?”
“Sure, hold on please”
” No problem”
“Ma’am I can do $110 a night”
“Oh, thank you. I’m really sorry, it’s just that money is super tight right now. We only have $100 in our budget and there is a hotel we can stay at for that much, but I really don’t want to. I really like your hotel so much better and would really love to book it, but $110 is still out of my budget. I’m so sorry, but is there any possible way that you might be able to do any better than that?”
“I will need to place you on hold for a few minutes is that ok?”
“Absolutely, do whatever you need to do, take all the time you need”
“Ma’am, I can give you the room for $100″.
“You can? Oh, thank you sooo much, I really really appreciate it!….”
This is a true story! We saved $20 a night for a total of $40!!!
Now, fast forward to us checking into the hotel.
We are on line at the check in desk behind someone who booked their night through one of those online discount sites. Well, apparently, they forgot to bring the right paperwork and the hotel had no record of their reservation. The online company messed up and didn’t send the right info or whatever.
The hotel was now completely booked and this woman had already paid through the online company. Remember typically with those online discount companies, once you book everything is final, there are no refunds.
Anyway, I don’t even remember what happened, there was a lot of drama and aggravation for this woman. While I stood behind her smiling to myself that I had paid less than this woman, was not locked into something, dealt directly with the hotel and was able to check in with total ease!
Watching her ordeal, confirmed that I will not go through an online site, but will negotiate my own deals directly with hotels in the future
A Bird in the Hand is worth more than Two in a bush:
So, why on earth would a hotel negotiate with you? Because if they have a lot of vacancies right before you want to book, it is worth it to them to give you a lower rate then to have the room go empty and earn nothing on that room.
Why I will always negotiate and not use an online site:
With online sites, you are completely locked in. Once you book, there are no refunds. Too many surprises can pop up in my life, like my kids getting sick or my car breaking down, that would make me have to cancel my trip and therefore lose my money.
I am also a control freak, therefore I like the option of being able to cancel within 48 hours if a better deal pops up!
I have found that you can get just as good, if not better rates, when you negotiate them.
Obviously, this is not guaranteed and that is why step 2 is so important.
UPDATE- MORE TIPS:
I just read a fantastic article on Learnvest about saving on hotels. They have similar information to this, plus a few more great tips!! Seriously, you should check it out, because these tips are awesome and I plan on implementing them next time I plan a hotel stay.
Sign into Learnvest here, and then search for How to snag that room upgrade and more.
So what about you? Do you have any tips for saving on hotels? I would love to hear them!
Also, would it help if I made a video of how I would actually say these things? Let me know.
Good luck and let me know if this works for you!