Dear Travel IQ: Do you have some good ways to save on my hotel bills that doesn’t involve camping out or a hostel?
Signed: Cheap, cheap, really, really cheap
Dear Cheap: Goodness, let’s not put cost above value. Cost is what you pay for something, but value is what you get in return. Think about the hotel’s amenities, location, cleanliness, and reputation. All of that matters and should be taken into account when doing the math! Here are a few tips:
Work with a travel professional. Your local travel professional is researching travel every day and is aware of the specials in the marketplace across a wide number of brands. In addition, many travel professionals belong to associations that always have hotel programs in place for their clients. Travel professionals know the difference between a hotel near your interests and the one that may be less expensive but some distance away from your needs. Discuss your budget honestly, and remember as with all things, you get what you pay for in your travel planning. But if budget is your biggest concern, then let your travel advisor know.
Travel when business travelers are at home. Many downtown hotels cater primarily to business travelers during the week, but are far less crowded on weekends. Commercial business centers will often discount rates to fill rooms when business travelers are at home in their own beds.
Seasonality. Ask your travel advisor about low and “shoulder” seasons as opposed to traveling during peak seasons. The prices will be better, the selections more available and the destination less crowded!
Join a hotel rewards club. Sign up for hotel chain rewards clubs that might prove useful. Then, sign up for the chain’s newsletter and let your travel advisor know about your participation. Some credit cards are co-branded by hotel chains, so if you have a favorite, start racking up the points.
Look Locally. Tourist board sites are another valuable source of information. Just a bit of your own research prior to speaking with your travel advisor will help you provide better information on what you really want, so let your travel advisor know what you have discovered.
Study the Map of your Destination and its surroundings. Spend time thinking through your options and decide what is most important to you. As you can imagine, location impacts the price you will pay for a room, but also consider the cost of transportation and the inconvenience of being too far away from your interests.
Think about options. Heading off internationally? Consider brands like Etap and Ibis or Mecure which are European discount brands. Remember that while the savings might be big, their bare-bones rooms aren’t and they typically are light on any amenities.
Perk Up. Consider the amenities when looking at the cost of the room. Are there extras like a free breakfast? Look beyond the per-night cost of a given room and consider any perks. Is there a free night for extending your stay? Again, your travel advisor is a wealth of information and will do this type of research for you.
Beat the Clock. Typically, the earlier you begin your research, the better the deal you can find!