With some strategic planning, booking a vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. The following tips can help you get the best hotel rates:
Book in advance
As with most travel, booking your hotel far in advance will often yield more favorable rates. Unlike airfare, which tends to have a “sweet spot” when it comes to booking in advance (don’t reserve tickets last minute, but too far in advance can also cost you), hotel rates tend to be their cheapest when you book as far in advance as possible.
Talk to a travel agent
It’s usually free to work with a travel agent, and often they can get you better rates than what’s published. If they can’t get a better hotel rate for you, they can sometimes can get other perks and freebies with your booking, such as late check-out or free breakfast.
It may seem like a given, but some people still book their travel face-to-face or through the phone. It doesn’t hurt to check online, and more often than not, you’ll find a better deal on the Internet. Check large booking engines, such as Expedia and Orbitz, but don’t also forget to check the hotel’s official website for promotions and offers, such as free nights. To score an even bigger discount, check websites like RetailMeNot.com to see if there are any valid coupon codes that you can apply to your booking.
Use credit card points
If your travel plans are flexible, consider booking off-season, or at the very least, during the shoulder season. Not only will rates be cheaper, but the hotel grounds will be less crowded.
Check the hotel’s event calendar
No matter what time of the year you’re booking—even if it’s in the middle of the area’s off-season—be sure to check the hotel calendar, or even a calendar of events for the city you’re visiting. There might be something big going on during that time that you’re unaware of, such as a popular convention. If the hotel is hosting a large public event or is located near one, hotel rooms will book up quickly and you’ll often pay a premium for any availability. As such, you’ll want to re-consider your travel dates, or try to find a hotel in a different area if you’re looking for a good deal.