Tired of being slammed with Airbnb fees? Traveling solo and don’t need a whole home to yourself? While vacation rental homes can be great, sometimes all you need is a hotel room for a few nights.
But hotels can be expensive. Plus, there are so many different ways to book a hotel room online these days that it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. What’s the best option, and how can you get the best deal for yourself or your family?
Try these tips before you book and see if you can snag some savings!
Book Direct + Ask for the BRG
It can be tempting to book your hotel rooms through online travel agencies or your credit card travel website. But the cheapest option is usually to book directly with the hotel itself. Travel experts recommend calling to book your room. Sometimes, if you call you can even get a better rate than what you see online!
But before you call, check out third-party booking websites, like Kayak, Hotels.com, Expedia, and Booking.com. See if you can find any rates lower than what’s listed on the hotel’s website.
Then, when you call, ask if they offer a “Best Rate Guarantee,” or BRG, which is essentially price-matching.
If you did find a lower rate, let the hotel know exactly which website and when you saw that low rate. They should match it and offer you the lower price!
Join Hotel Loyalty Programs
Just like how you can rack up airline miles, you can also rack up hotel room points! Before you start doubting, know that you don’t have to sign up for a credit card to start earning points.
Just like the loyalty programs offered by many businesses large and small, hotel loyalty programs are based on – you guessed it – loyalty. If you earn enough points, you’ll get the chance to enjoy different perks, like access to special lounges, upgrades to more expensive rooms, free Wi-Fi, and even free nights at the hotel.
Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards, and IHG Rewards are three of the major hotel loyalty reward programs you can join, but they’re not the only ones. The Points Guy names Starwood Preferred Guest, Wyndham Rewards, and World of Hyatt as his top three (and Hilton Honors comes in at number 4). Take a look at his Top 10 and the reasons for his rankings here.
Remember, loyalty programs work best if you’re loyal. Choose a hotel chain that you enjoy and stick with them for your future trips. And if you’re the kind of traveler who values flexibility (and getting to choose any hotel you like) over stacking up points, choose two or three loyalty programs to join and prioritize those.
Do you have some flexibility when it comes to your next vacation? Or are you the kind of traveler who likes to do things spur of the moment? If either of these sounds like you, then you definitely need to start using HotelTonight.
HotelTonight is a website and an app that will point you towards fantastic deals on hotels. Of course, the best deals are for hotel rooms for the day you’re booking. But you can also find great deals in advance, too
You can also check out apps like Pruvo, which monitors rates for you, and Service, which will refund you if the price of your room drops after you book.
Stay in a Business Hotel on the Weekend
Hotels that are geared toward business travelers are usually located downtown – and they’re usually busiest during the work week. So, business hotels are more likely to have vacancies on the weekend. That means they’re also more likely to offer rooms at lower prices on the weekend.
Business-centric areas might not be exactly where you want to stay, but if the price is right, you can sacrifice location for a good deal. It’s also good to know that the opposite is too, true: hotels located in touristy areas are often busiest on the weekends (especially romantic bed and breakfasts!) and therefore, the most expensive on the weekend. It’s typically cheaper to stay in touristy hotels during the week.
Choose Monday over Friday
Long weekends usually begin with that wonderful Friday off. But Friday is an expensive day in the travel world. If you’re flexible, see if you can take Monday off instead and travel home on Tuesday. Sunday nights are usually the cheapest nights at hotels!
Say Yes To a Pre-Paid Room Rate
Paying for your entire hotel stay in advance might make you uneasy. What if your plans change? What if the hotel turns out to be not as nice as advertised?
While there are plenty of what-ifs, there’s one extremely important upside to paying a pre-paid room rate: it’s usually much cheaper than any other rate you’ll find. Remember, only agree to a pre-paid room rate if you’re confident your plans won’t change.