You’ve worked all year for this moment, the day that you get to cash in on your vacation days and head off to your destination. The only problem is that you want to find a nice place to stay without spending an arm and a leg. Finding a great deal is crucial, but you don’t want to spend all your free time scouring the Iternet for a room. You’re a busy person; you have clothes to pack and supplies to buy. So why not sit back and take a look at our 7 tips for getting the best deal on a hotel room and save time and money?
1. Know what you are looking for. You can’t begin your search without knowing if you want to head to a cabin in the woods or an all-inclusive oceanfront resort. Whether you’re searching for a mountain adventure or an island oasis, make a checklist of the things that will make this vacation perfect for you and your individual needs. How many people are going to be in your room? Is the view what is most important to you? Or does a free breakfast make the top of your list? Possibly proximity to the beach is what you crave most. Does your hotel need to have a pool with some great pool side furniture? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself before beginning your search. Knowing the answers will make your search easier if you’ve already determined what is most important to you.
2. Compare prices online. Expedia, Kayak Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity are just a few sites where you can start to search. If you are heading on a business trip and Iternet access is most important to you, check out HotelChatter, which rates the quality of online access in thousands of hotels around the globe. After all, a resort’s connectivity is important these days. You need to be careful when you are searching, Since web sites don’t always list the fees and regulatory surcharges. So make sure to call the hotel and ask before you book, or your great steal may not be the bargain you thought it was
3. Be flexible about travel dates. If you haven’t scheduled your trip yet and can afford to be flexible about your travel dates, then it might be worth it to shop around. You will get the best bargains this way. Google Hotel Finder will tell you the best time to stay at a destination. Or you can input other key factors including your budget, desired travel dates, and geographic limits using different filters, and it will give you a list of destinations to consider. Being flexible with your travel dates just might score you the deal of the year.
4. Search for hidden discounts. Put on your detective hat and grab that magnifying glass to search out these hidden discounts. Actually you might only need to grab your membership card. If you are a member of AARP, AAA, a professional group such as the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association, you may be entitled to a discount. You can also search the Internet for discount codes on sites like Hotels.com, Retail Me Not, or Coupon Heaven to sleuth out the best deal.
Hotel web sites often advertise packages and deals. If you know you like a particular chain, sign up for its e-newsletter and receive the latest information on discounts and package deals. Plus, you may want to set your Groupon or LivingSocial app to your destination city to get notifications of awesome local savings in the area you’ll be travelling.
5. Consider less expensive hotels. Everybody is afraid of having a bad experience. But often considering less expensive hotels can lead to a better overall experience. Ironically, they tend to provide more for less, even in the same chain. Cheaper hotels tend to offer amenities such as free Internet, breakfast, and local calls. More expensive hotels often charge for these services. So before you book that deluxe room at a chain hotel, look into their less expensive sister hotel and see if it might be a better fit for your budget. It could be the difference between borrowing or renting the hotel’s Adirondack chair for your long days at the beach.
6. Join a loyalty program. With this investment of a few minutes and some unwanted emails, you can reap continued savings. The more points you accrue, the more freebies and upgrades you are entitled to at that particular hotel or airline. Having a hard time keeping track of your rewards? Or do they expire before you have the chance to use them? Use Travel Zoo to keep an updated list of popular loyalty clubs and their perks.
7. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. You might not know this but hotels with vacancies are often willing to negotiate to fill a room. They’d rather negotiate directly with you than through an OTA site, anyway. So what’s the harm in asking?). Don’t be afraid to ask for a free breakfast, Internet, parking or use of the workout facilities. Hotel managers would rather make a little less on an occupied room than leave it empty for a night. The worse that can happen is they say no and you can rest easy knowing that you got the best deal that you could.
With all you’ve saved, you can spend your extra cash on pampering yourself a little bit. Go ahead and buy yourself that t-shirt with the bikini body on it, you earned it. You may have the extra funds for a folding Adirondack chair to stow-and-go with you on your vacation! Or perhaps sipping one more mi-tie is the way that you want to spend your vacation. Either way sit back, relax, and enjoy your trip because you’ve earned it!