Booking hotel rooms has never been easier, but getting the best deal possible is much more difficult. It is impossible to rely on hotel websites or even on comparison sites promising the “best deal guaranteed” for your hotel room bargains. To get the cheapest rooms you really have to know how the system works.
To put it very simply, hotels aim to be full all the time and so when things aren’t going so well and rooms aren’t selling, they try to bribe us with cheap deals.
Hotel prices actually go up and down all the time. In fact they can rise and fall several times in a single day. The price you pay at any one time is directly linked to supply and demand. This means that if no one wants to stay in a hotel in a certain place on a particular day, then someone coming along to book a room will be able to find a real bargain. On the other hand, if demand is high, prices will rise and bargains will be hard to find.
If hotel prices seem unusually high, find out whether the demand is purely local and possibly confined to a particular hotel – such as when a popular convention is held there – or one part of town for a concert or sports game. This is a simple matter of 2-3 quick Google searches for the hotel and location on a certain date. If this is what’s pushing prices up – and it often is – you simply find a hotel in a nearby area or adjust the dates of your visit. Having a degree of flexibility is a very good way of avoiding high room prices.
Once you eliminate local factors, getting the very best price hotel room involves more internet searching. This is where most people go wrong and assume that the big comparison websites will offer the best deals. Wrong. By concentrating on a single “late deal” or “cheapest prices guaranteed” website, you are cutting yourself off from lots of potentially cheaper deals. You need to organize an effective sweep of what’s available using your preferred search engine. Through trial and error, I’ve reduced this to a simple four-step process:
1. General Search (for example: “hotels in New York”) to find out what is available in your price range and at the standard of hotel you are looking for. Bargain hotel finder tactics vary: it might be that you are looking for a five-star hotel at a three star price or a really cheap bed in a student hostel. This applies to any scenario.
2. Narrow It Down, using the hotel comparison websites to find a shortlist. This might involve a few Google searches, clicking on relevant ads. Then narrow it down to your preferred choice.
3. Get The Best Online Price – usually a simple matter of back-tracking your previous searches to see where the best online price could be found. Don’t forget to try the hotel’s own website. This is another trick most people don’t know and I’ve found that this offers the best price in around 50% of cases.
4. Contact the hotel by telephone or email to see if they can offer you a special rate. If calling (especially by cellphone), be careful that the cost of any international calls may eat into any savings you make, so use your common sense and judgment.