Posted July 29, 2010 by SmarterTravel.com
Once you've decided where you're going on your trip and how to get there, do you start worrying about what your accommodations will cost? To help ease your anxiety, Ed Perkins, Contributing Editor for SmarterTravel, offers up his favorite tips for finding the best price for your hotel stay.
When to Visit
- Offseason: Low periods are generally the fourth quarter for domestic warm-weather areas, during the school year for theme parks, and the spring and fall shoulder seasons in many places.
- Day of week: Rates are lowest weekdays for resort areas, and on the weekends for business centers.
- Check Hotwire for historical rate patterns in major destination areas.
- Avoid "prime" locations. Accommodations a few blocks from the beach or slopes, or a few miles from a theme park, are usually cheaper.
- But stay close enough for convenient access.
- Consider public transit proximity where appropriate.
- Stay close to the airport, cruise port, or train station for short stays.
- Determine preferred neighborhoods in big metro areas.
- Determine your desired level of quality and service. For many travelers, there's more to a hotel choice than just the rock-bottom rate.
- Check frequent-stay credit, if you belong to a relevant loyalty program.
- Consider a vacation rental or apartment for more room or lower costs.
- Hotel rates are less volatile than airfares, but look for periodic "sales."
- Book early to lock in the arrangements you really need. Book late for the best last-minute deals.
- Be flexible: Rule No 1 for getting the best prices.
- Check obvious discount programs: AAA, AARP, and such.
- Compare all options: Search hotel, aggregator, and OTA websites.
- Include fees for the extras you want.
- Consider air-hotel or hotel-car packages.
- Consider a travel agent.
- "Opaque" buying is almost always cheapest if you’re sure you’ll go and don’t care about exact room features.
How to Stay in the Know
- Sign up for email, RSS, Twitter, and other hotel rate alerts and newsletters.
- Sign up for hotel and frequent guest bulletins.
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