You need to schedule a trip.
Maybe it’s for business. Or maybe, you’re just ready to get away and have some time to yourself.
Or perhaps you’re taking your family on vacation and need to find the best hotel deal possible.
Here’s the thing. When looking for cheap hotels, or even just the best hotel for the money, you want to score big on two things: location and amenities.
But this isn’t always easy.
In this in-depth guide, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to find the best hotel for the value.
Whether you’re traveling to a destination like Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or anywhere in between, these four tips will empower you to save money while enjoying the best range of amenities possible.
So let’s dive in and ensure that you’re traveling as well as possible by helping to make this crucial part of your getaway as stress-free as it can be.
1. Start Your Search Early
One thing is for certain:
You need to start your hotel search early if you want access to the best rooms possible!
This is a crucial first step in the process of finding the best hotel room for the value.
Hotels and motels in popular locations (think Las Vegas, Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando, etc.) get booked up quickly. This is especially true in and around key tourism dates and locations.
So give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect room by getting ahead of the curve.
Avoid Tourist Seasons and Locations if Possible
You won’t always have a choice in when or where you’re going to need to travel to conduct business.
But if at all possible, one quick method for saving a lot of money, and avoiding a major headache, is to try to work around the tourist season.
During tourist seasons at tourist-centric locations, you’re going to be competing with many others for the best rooms.
This means higher prices, fewer options, and it’s overall less convenient for you.
To counter this, try scheduling business trips around popular tourist dates, times, and places.
A quick look at the tourist center website should yield the information required to make an informed decision.
Of course, sometimes the timeline isn’t up for debate.
If your client needs to meet on the first day of summer right off the beach in Destin, Florida, that’s where you’ll need to be!
So let’s talk about how to go about booking the best rooms at the best value, regardless of whether you’re traveling in busy tourist times or not.
Start Planning Your Trip
Most experts agree that you should start your search about 40 days in advance.
Anything more than this may prove redundant, as rates will likely fluctuate.
Some agree that booking 30 days out is the best practice, but you can also keep an eye on the room and watch for rate changes.
How To Watch for Rate Changes To Find Cheap Hotels
This will require a bit of effort on your part.
Find a room or two that you like. Start this search about 40 days in advance.
Bookmark the room and check it every day to look for two things:
- Room rate changes
- Room availability changes
If at any point the room increases in price, book immediately — because the price will likely continue to increase. Also, if at any point the room drops to single-digit availability, book immediately.
If the room drops in price, keep watching it. If the room doesn’t increase in price by the time you reach 21 days till departure time, book the room at that 21-day mark.
2. Use a Hotel Comparison Tool To Find the Absolute Best Rates
Diane Arbus may have spoken for all of us when she said, “My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.”
But here’s the thing:
In order to go where you’ve never been, you’ll need to do some legwork beforehand to make sure you have an affordable place to lay your head once you arrive.
Manually booking a room right off the hotel or motel’s website is the default option for booking a room.
But it isn’t always the best option.
Using a hotel comparison tool can help you to see which hotels or motels (Motel 6, Wyndham, Marriott, Red Roof Inn, etc.) have the absolute best rates at any given time.
Booking sites let you compare different rates, check availability, and even give you special deals on hotel prices.
What’s the Best Hotel Booking Site? Hotel Engine
Hotel Engine is an excellent tool for this. You can save up to 60% off business lodging when using it. Plus, you can get group and extended stay hotel reservations easily and at a great price.
This basically ensures that you’ll always find the best hotel rates and the lowest prices on business centers and luxury hotels in all your favorite destination cities.
This is especially useful if you plan to book a business trip, company convention, retreat, etc.
Another interesting point to be aware of is that Hotel Engine primarily deals with business hotels.
And one little-known fact about business hotels is that during the summer months and weekends: They tend to be not only slower but also less expensive.
3. Narrow Down Your Options, and Do Some In-Depth Research
When it comes to booking hotel rooms, this is where you’ll break out your prospecting lens and start panning for real accommodation gold.
In this step, you may have your real work cut out for you. But — it’s also where the real fun begins and where people who enjoy booking trips like to dig in and do their due diligence.
This is also the step where you can find some incredible value that may not be readily apparent in the accommodation pricing.
See, many people just browse options, look at the price tag, and make their booking decisions based on that. But you can find a lot of hidden value by looking closely at the amenities offered by each lodging option.
What Amenities To Look for When Booking a Room
This is really a process of figuring out what’s valuable to you and whether or not your lodging options offer the amenities you’re looking for.
This may be highly personal to you, and that’s totally fine.
You’re looking to find the best deal that you can possibly get by finding as much value for your money as possible.
For example, does the lodging option you’re looking at offer complimentary breakfast in the morning?
If this saves you the time and cost of sourcing an outside food option for breakfast, that’s money and time you can spend on other things.
In other words — it’s a hidden value that you would never have considered if you had only looked at the price tag to make your decision.
Here’s a last-minute checklist that you can use to help you identify which amenities to look for while browsing your lodging options:
- Free Wi-Fi
- Continental breakfast
- Free parking
- 24-hour guest reception
- A concierge service
- Pet friendly (if applicable)
- Flexible check-in/check-out times
- Fitness center
- An outdoor pool/hot tub
- Spa/wellness amenities
- Complimentary luggage storage
- Laundry facilities
- Complimentary toiletries
- Ample wall outlets (yes, this is a real thing to check on)
- A mini-fridge in the room
- Kitchen/food prep amenities
- On-site restaurant/bar options
- Free cancellation (or flexible)
- A patio/outdoor area (if desired)
Airport Shuttle Note:
If you’re going to be flying in from outside of town, make sure that the hotel offers an airport shuttle that can pick you up when you land. That alone can easily save you upwards of $50 each way (not to mention the steep cost of airport parking).
If they don’t, you’ll need to source transportation from the airport to your room. That’s an extra cost that you may be able to avoid by making sure that an airport offers shuttle service before you choose your lodging option.
Make Sure To Check Customer Reviews
As you look for different lodging options, make sure to check third-party customer reviews for specific locations.
You can learn a lot about the reputation of a hotel by reading reviews left by previous guests.
You can sometimes find hidden “diamonds in the rough” by checking these reviews. Or save yourself from a serious headache down the road by avoiding seemingly high-class hotels that actually have negative reputations.
What About Location?
Make sure to get in-depth on location when looking at your lodging options.
Research exactly how close or far away from your destination these accommodations are.
If you can book something for the same price that’s within walking distance of your destination, you’ll save a ton of time and money.
No dealing with Ubers, taxis, bus fare, or fighting traffic? Yes, please.
4. Use Your Mileage/Travel Points To Save On Booking Costs
Many people don’t realize that they can use travel credit card points to save money on hotel rooms.
If you have some points saved up, it may be worth your while to use them to get an even better deal.
Hotel Engine even offers a double rewards program — and here’s how it works. Business travelers can accrue points across 15 different hotel loyalty programs worldwide and earn Hotel Engine Rewards simultaneously. You can redeem these for free hotel stays, discounted stays, and more at no additional cost.
It’s literally a double reward program and can save you a ton of money if you like to travel.
There you have it.
Four tips that can help you find the absolute best hotel and lodging options for the money.
Traveling offers many money-saving opportunities — but you have to know where to look for that value.
And if you follow these tips, you’ll pack in as much value as possible while booking trips that’ll help you move your travel goals forward — one step at a time.
All that remains now is to get started, so pack your bags and hit the trail!