Travel News

Snagging Better Deals at Hotels: Part One

Locations in this article:  Chicago, IL Phoenix, AZ

Hotel Room WindowAsking three important questions can save you some frustration and improve the quality of your hotel room. But what about finding that hotel room and booking it?

Peter has the answer in The Complete Travel Detective Bible

If a $1,000 per night rate doesn’t appeal to your wallet, don’t worry. I’ve been traveling since I was an infant, and I’ve developed tricks of the trade when it comes to snagging the best deals on a hotel, from first-class resorts to budget motels.

First of all, don’t just depend on online deals, whether it’s through the hotel itself or through a third party. Online booking sites often “guarantee” the lowest rates, but let’s compare the different prices you can find.

I checked the rates on hotels in four cities: Chicago, Dayton, New York, and Phoenix. For each rate, I requested a Friday- and Saturday-night stay, two months in advance. I looked at:; an online travel booking Web site such as Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity; the hotel’s direct Web site; and the hotel’s reservation desk. I also tried to negotiate the rate for frequent visitors arranged through the hotel’s director of sales.

In every case, talking to a manager or director of sales landed the lowest rate.

Auction Web sites, like Priceline and Hotwire, are known as “opaque” sites. That means you won’t know which hotel you’ve booked until after you’ve made your reservation based on price. These sites offer descriptions like “four-star hotel”… but there could easily be differences of opinion on what exactly a “four-star hotel” is.

However, there are other auction Web sites like Sky Auction and Luxury Link that let you see what you’re getting before you book. These sites have auctions, but they show you the hotels involved.

  • You’ve already learned that third-party hotel-booking Web sites aren’t always the best option. Sometimes you can get a better deal by going to the hotel’s Web site, and more often than that, you can negotiate a better rate by calling the hotel directly. The gist of it is that it’s fine to utilize online travel sites to find out what the going rate is, whether there’s a better deal than what the hotel is offering, and if you can negotiate a better rate by talking to a real human being.
  • Be wary of special deals that you find online: That “third night free” option might wind up being more expensive than a regular booking, or that “honeymoon package” may charge you an extra $200 just for a bottle of champagne and chocolates on your pillow.
  • When calling a hotel to make reservations, don’t call the 800 number. That will go to a national center that has less wiggle room to give you a discounted rate. Call the hotel’s direct line – when you call, don’t ask for the reservation department, as they’ll probably reroute you right back to the 800 number. Ask to speak to a manager on duty or a director of sales: They have insider knowledge to let you know if there is a wedding party taking over 90 percent of the hotel or if an impending rainstorm means that there will probably be a block of cancellations. That puts you in a better negotiating position.
  • The Web doesn’t think creatively. While you may be getting the lowest-priced room in the house, there’s nothing to indicate that your room faces a brick wall or overlooks the alley where trash is picked up at the crack of dawn. You don’t necessarily need to talk to someone in reservations to find out that kind of information. Talk to someone at the bell desk, the concierge, or even housekeeping. An important detail that most people don’t know about is to found out what floors the boosters pumps are on: Most high-rise hotels cannot maintain consistently strong water pressure, so if you get a room on the same floor as the booster pump, you’re pretty much ensured good water pressure.

Continue Reading: Part Two of Snagging Better Deals at Hotels is here.

Excerpted from Peter’s most recent book, The Complete Travel Detective Bible

Pick up The Complete Travel Detective Bible from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or an independent retailer near you…

Don’t forget to check out the Three Questions You Should Ask Your Hotel.

There’s also the rest of our Hotels section to help you find accommodations.

Comment: What techniques have you used to make your stay better or get a better deal?