The holiday season is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. If you’re hitting the road this December, you’ll generally have two choices: Stay with friends or family members, or book a hotel room nearby. The first option will lower your travel expenses; the second option offers more day-to-day freedom but increases your trip costs. Still, flexibility is a valuable travel asset, so if you choose (or need to use) the second option, here are a few tips on how to save on hotel rooms.
Book in advance. If you haven’t already reserved a room, it may be too late (depending on the popularity of your destination), so get cracking now. As availability dwindles, prices tend to rise, so the earlier you try to lock in a room, the more options you’ll have on accommodations and rates.
Keep an eye out for last-minute deals. This may seem to fly in the face of the first tip, but when hotels get late cancellations, those empty rooms aren’t generating income, and even a relatively low price beats nothing. If you have refundable reservations at one hotel, it never hurts to check last-minute prices at local hotels. You might luck into a more affordable rate at another inn.
Contact your destination hotel directly. The big chains have central customer service departments that handle reservations made via their 800 numbers. Calling the hotel in your desired locale allows you to speak with a manager who will know more about site-specific deals, recent cancellations, or even events in the local area that could drive up demand (and rates) during your desired travel dates. Be sure to check in periodically prior to your arrival date; you may be able to obtain better terms if rates drop after you’ve booked your room.
Compare hotel prices and travel dates. You should always research local rates, of course, but you should also consider using one hotel’s price as an opening bid to negotiate a better deal at a nearby hotel. In addition, if you’re able to move your travel dates a day or two (or, better yet, a month or two) in either direction, you might be able to enjoy significant savings on your stay.
Connect through social media. Many hotels are using social platforms to communicate with travelers. Using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or other channels to follow your chosen hotel(s) through social media can help you score special discounts and upgrades.
Get with the programs. Most hotels offer discounts to regular customers through loyalty programs, which are typically free to join. Sign up with as many complimentary programs as you can — and look into special deals that might be available for free via your credit card issuer, your airline, or even your employer.
One sure way to save on hotel rooms is to book them through Travel Plus — you can earn 5% cash back and claim rebates on a variety of hotel services. Happy travels!