Looking to score the perfect hotel room to make your summer vacation complete but don’t want to break the bank? Getting the room you want for the price you’re willing to pay usually gets a little more challenging each summer as the vacation season gets underway and hoteliers enjoy a surge in demand for rooms and room rates climb higher.
Check hotel website for specials Some hotels - and whole hotel chains - maintain a policy of offering the lowest rates at their websites. Visit the hotel’s website to get an overview of its rate structure and any special deals that may be available.
Advance booking rates One deal that pops up increasingly at hotel websites is a discounted rate for advance booking. These rates are generally among the most attractive available, but don’t sign up for one unless you’re absolutely certain that you will be at the hotel on the date you select. Like cheap airline tickets, these discounts lose their allure if you’re forced to cancel, because your credit card will still get charged for the room.
Visit discount travel websites Once you’ve scoped out the rates available at the hotel’s website, pay a visit to some of the discount travel sites, such as Hotels.com, Cheaprooms.com, Hotwire.com, Travelocity and Orbitz. See what rates these third-party travel bookers can offer for the hotel room you want. Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Make sure that the hotel room available through one of the discount websites has all the amenities of the one you researched at the hotel’s site. Read the fine print before you finalize a reservation through a discount site to be sure you’re aware of its cancellation and refund policies.
Consider package deals If your vacation plans include air travel and perhaps a car rental at your destination, several of the discount travel sites can offer more attractive package deals if you book air travel, car rental and hotel room through them. Even a package that combines only air travel and hotel room can bring you significant savings over the cost of booking these items separately.
Be flexible There is no hard-and-fast rule, but hotels that count on business travelers for the lion’s share of their business tend to charge higher rates on Sunday through Thursday nights, the nights most often booked by business travelers. At the other end of the spectrum are the hotels that cater primarily to leisure travelers. Rates at this second group of hotels tend to be higher on weekends. If you stay flexible, you can take maximum advantage of each hotel’s low-rate days by ensuring your stay includes as many of those days as possible.
Don't overlook standard discounts Most hotels offer discounts of 10 to 20% for members of AAA, senior citizens, government employees, and active and retired military personnel. Check the rates for any discount you qualify for and compare that rate with, say, an advanced purchase rate if you’ve decided to go that route.
Talk to hotel reservationist Don’t finalize any deal until you check with the local hotel’s reservations by telephone. Sometimes the reservationist knows of a last-minute special rate or discount that is not available on the website and can hook you up for additional savings or tip you off to an attractive upcoming deal.
About the Author: Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about digital media, corporate strategy, travel, and snow machine rentals.