Why did you end up paying $100 more per night for that hotel stay than your friend, who was a guest at the same property just a few days earlier? It is not uncommon, according to Mike Heflin, the senior vice president of the hotels division at Travel Leaders Group, a network of 50,000 travel agents.
“Hotel prices and the perks you get can vary wildly depending on how you book,” he said. There are, however, ways to hone in on a deal and save some money.
— Do Not Judge By Price Alone
“The higher priced hotel may have inclusions that add up to more value than the lower priced property,” Heflin said. Keep in mind what comes with the room you book, as well as how it hits your wallet, and what you may spend extra on if you book a bargain basement hotel room. A room that is $20 per night lower than the one at the hotel across the street might not have free Wi-Fi, free breakfast or other amenities you may pay out of pocket for anyway.
— Shop Flash Sales
The travel industry has flash sales throughout the year. Expedia.com offers discounts of up to 30 percent on hotel stays through the frequent flash sales on its mobile app. Preferred Hotels & Resorts has periodic flash sales on its site where nightly rates for its hotels are an average of 35 percent off usual prices. Andrew Harper has regular flash sales, and individual hotels, too, post flash sales to their sites. Similarly, apps like Hotel Tonight and Hipmunk offer heavily discounted room rates, especially for travelers with flexible schedules or looking to book at the last minute.
With all of these rates and discounts however, it is worth contacting the hotel and mentioning that you found the rate on a specific app or through a flash sale, and you would like to know if you can book directly. Most hotels prefer you book directly than through apps that take a cut of the cost, and will match your price or otherwise make it worth your while if you do.
— Stay Loyal
Many hotels reward travelers who join their loyalty programs, like Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, Wyndham Rewards and more. Joining these programs is free, but the perks you get such as breakfast, early-check-in and room upgrades can add up very quickly, especially if you stay loyal. Heflin also said that loyalty members often have access to special rates. Preferred Hotels & Resorts has weekly discounts of at least 35 percent off usual rates for members of its I Prefer Rewards program.
— Use Your Other Memberships for Additional Discounts
Many hotels offer room discounts for guests who are members of affinity groups such as AARP, AAA, frequent flyer programs and the military.
— Try a Travel Agent
Many travel agents, especially those affiliated with larger agencies, have negotiated preferred rates with a range of hotel brands. Some agents may even be able to get you room upgrades and food and beverage credits.