Finding a Good Deal on a Hotel Room

My niece will be graduating from high school next month so I spent the morning looking for a good deal on a hotel room. In the process I discovered some tips that I thought I’d pass on to you.

I shop online; these days who doesn’t? I visited all my “regulars:” Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity. The problem is these sites often charge booking fees, which I wanted to avoid. So, I devised a strategy, shopped around, found the lowest rate, then went to the hotel’s website to see if the price was the same. I found that it was, so I called the hotel’s 800 number and asked if I could reserve the room through them and avoid the booking fee that the other travel sites were going to charge me.

In speaking with the customer service representative I uncovered tip number two: Don’t call the 800 number. Call the hotel directly. Here’s why: many times specials are offered at the hotel that can’t be submitted through the 1-800 central reservations system. The 800 agents have no direct access to room availability, and are often not authorized to negotiate. Meanwhile, hotel employees working the front desk are knowledgeable about availability and specials, and can therefore offer you a better rate. In addition, many chains allot only a select number of rooms to the central reservations system, so 800 agents may even tell you a hotel is sold out when in fact the hotel is discounting rooms because of low booking rates.

Tip number three: put your pride aside and ask for a discount. It’s very simple and it worked like a charm for me. I asked for a discounted rate and the hotel employee asked me which of the following promotions or special rates I qualified for: AAA, senior, family, hotel membership, weekend, government discount, frequent flyer, convention, shareholder or corporate. I told her what category I fit into and was quoted a terrific rate. I also found out that some hotels sometimes even have what is called a “fallback” rate, for travelers who are resisting the quoted rate.

Last, but not least, be sure to get a confirmation number (especially if you are quoted a rate that sounds too good to be true). Whether you are booking, or especially if you are canceling a reservation, be sure to record the confirmation number, along with the name of any agent you speak with. And if you do need to cancel your reservation, be sure to do it within the proper time allotment so you don’t get charged a cancellation or no-show fee.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.