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Snagging Better Deals at Hotels: Part Two

Hotel SignContinued from Part One of Snagging Better Hotel Deals

Don’t forget to check out our complete Hotels category for more money-saving tips and interesting ideas for accommodations.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s latest book, The Complete Travel Detective Bible. You can find out more about it here.

  • Call ahead of time: The best time to call the hotel is around 4 p.m., local time, on a Sunday. That’s when hotel revenue managers, who set and control room rates, aren’t working. You’re in a better position to negotiate since the hotel knows that an unsold room is revenue that they’ll never recoup by the next morning.
  • Call at the last minute: Hotels may lower rates last minute if they’re not fully booked. Here’s a trick: Reserve at an inexpensive chain that allows cancellations up to the day you arrive. A day or two before arriving, call the hotel you would prefer to stay at and ask for their lowest rate – if you get a better deal, you can cancel your first hotel.
  • If you’re staying through the week, ask for a weekend rate for the entirety of your stay.
  • Watch out for hidden fees: Ask about all fees in advance of your stay. I’ve been hit for a “mandatory bellman charge: and for receiving a FedEx package. Other unexpected fees may include mini-bar restocking, charges, in-room safe surcharges, resort amenity fees, baggage holding fees, cancellation fees, early departure/arrival fees, and Internet/telephone/fax charges. If you’re not informed of these charges ahead of time, you can ask the hotel to remove them at the end of your stay.
  • Before you take your room key, tell the front desk that you want your phone and Internet charges bundled – a flat fee of $10 or $15 a day for unlimited Internet and domestic long-distance calls. This also applies to other annoying charges like resort fees and use of the hotel gym.
  • Talk to the bellhop. When he’s showing you your room, ask him if he actually likes the room. In some cases, he can even arrange to change the room through his friend at the front desk.
  • If the hotel is overbooked, ask the bellhop to show you a “suite connector room,” which is the sitting portion of a suite that isn’t always sold along with the entire room, or an “out-of-order” room, which is a room that isn’t deemed “ready” for the public. Something as small as a stained carpet or broken television can get you a discounted rate.
  • Safety first: Everyday fears of crime and fire don’t go away just because you’re on vacation. Ask the hard questions before you book your room – find out whether the hotel requires proof of identification of all guests, if access to guest floors is restricted, and whether there are in-room safes or a hotel safe to store your valuables. It’s okay to ask how many incidents of burglary and other crimes have occurred and if hotels perform background checks on their employees.
  • When it comes to fire safety, you would be surprised how many smoke detectors don’t work because guests remove the batteries. And although most states mandate use of sprinklers and smoke detectors, not every state mandates that enough of them be installed. Ask whether the rooms an public areas have sprinklers. A tip: When booking your room, stay on the ninth floor or below. There’s not a firefighter who can fight a fire quickly above the ninth floor. This also applies to developing countries where fire-safety regulations and procedures aren’t as strict as in the United States. I know this for a fact – I’ve been a volunteer New York firefighter since I was 18 years old.

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

Tell us what techniques have you used to make your stay better or get a better deal in the comments below…