When budgeting for a trip, your lodgings are usually at the top of the list. If you want to stay at a decent hotel, the cost is neck-and-neck with your transportation expenses, but it doesn’t have to be.
Yes, getting 3-, 4-, and 5-star hotels is possible without sinking most of your trip funds into your room.
The hospitality industry is highly competitive, which works in your favor. Hotels must offer incentives, like discounts, points, and free rooms to attract guests, as discussed in this article by Hotel Engine.
Once you learn the tricks they use, you can apply them to shop around for the ideal place to stay. Whether you’re booking a relaxing getaway or a work trip, follow these tips to get the best deals on your next hotel room.
1. Time Your Trip Right
The economic theory of supply and demand plays a major role in hotel rates. You’ll pay more for a hotel, regardless of its location or rating, during peak season.
A word of caution as you plan your dates, though. ‘Peak season’ varies by area. For instance, if you’re heading to Florida during Spring Break, you can expect to pay premium rates because everyone else is going there, too. But you'll get better deals if your trip takes you to a less popular Spring Break locale.
Also, watch for big events happening in the area during your planned trip. Major concerts, sporting events, and business conferences will drive up demand and hotel rates.
2. Stay at Business Hotels on Weekends
As you search for your next weekend-trip hotel, look for those that cater to corporate travelers. The distinction between these lodging lines and leisure hotels is that business-focused brands offer extra amenities beneficial on work trips. They’re still excellent options for leisure travelers.
Since corporate workers typically stay at hotels throughout the week, weekends are slower. Take advantage of the lower prices by booking a business hotel for your Friday-Saturday-Sunday getaways.
3. Upgrade at the Desk
In-person requests for upgrades are one way to boost your room. Be polite and dress presentably when you check-in. Then, ask if it’s possible to get a corner spot or an upgraded room away from an elevator.
Corner rooms generally have more square footage for the same price. Rooms near an elevator sound convenient, but they generate the most traffic, and you’ll hear people coming and going all night — not a good place to stay if you’re a light sleeper.
If you check in near the end of the day, hotel staff are more likely to approve an upgrade request. Most people with reservations will already be checked in, and they’ll know what rooms are left open.
4. Take That Bundle Suggestion
Bundling two or more related expenses is another way to get a better deal. You see this option in ads for insurance, phone services, and other monthly costs, but it’s also commonly offered by many booking companies.
The downside of this type of cost-savings is that you often lose a little control over your arrangements. The providers involved are willing to take a lower fare, so they may only allow the lower-quality rooms/seats/cars to be included in the bundling purchases.
5. Use Your Loyalty Points
Most hotels have loyalty programs. Sign up for them and read the fine print to ensure you’re maximizing how you gain points.
Check your credit cards, insurance, AAA, and other accounts. You might be surprised at how they intersect to boost your rewards. For example, if you pay for a hotel with your credit card, you could get double points and extra upgrades.
Keep an eye on those loyalty programs. Points can expire before you use them!
6. Expand Your Search Radius
Unless there’s a definite reason you need to be in the center of the city, like you’re walking everywhere, try expanding your search radius. Prime locations are helpful, but they’re not always necessary and cost-effective.
If you don’t need to have immediate access to groceries, restaurants, and shopping, you can get a better deal a few miles out of the heart of the city.
Look at your itinerary and the hotels surrounding your main destination. It may be financially smarter to book cheaper lodging and get a taxi, shuttle, or rideshare when you need to head out.
Booking an inexpensive hotel room doesn’t have to mean using one- and two-star accommodations. With so many ways to save, you can still get impressive rooms with great amenities and not break the bank.