Secrets of the Professional Hotel Deal Finder

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Do you subscribe to travel deal newsletters like Travelzoo and SmarterTravel Deal Alert to get great deals on flights, hotels, and vacation packages? If so, you’ve likely seen some spectacular discounts on vacation products of all kinds. How do the editors of these sites find these awesome deals? Surely they must have special connections, right? Not necessarily. They do get special deals from the advertisers, but they also spend a lot of time combing the Internet…and they know a thing or two about deal finding that the average person doesn’t. Here are some top secrets of the professional hotel deal finder. Some of these tips apply to flights and vacation packages as well.

There is no such thing as a standard rate.

The “standard rate” is really a misnomer—what hotels actually have is different rate categories. Sometimes you can book a room at the lowest rate category, but that rate is not always available. Although hotel prices don’t fluctuate as much as airfares do, the price of a room still depends on a variety of factors, including the day of week, time of year, what’s going on in the area, what the competition is doing, and how many rooms are already booked. You can take advantage of this by being flexible with your travel dates. For example, if you need to make a business trip, but there is a big conference in town on Monday and Tuesday, see if you can push your meeting to the end of the week, when the hotels are likely to be emptying out and looking for new customers.

Hotel rates are negotiable.

If you do all of your travel booking online, hotel rates seem pretty set in stone. But they aren’t. You can still negotiate a deal by calling the hotel directly and speaking to the manager. Alternatively, book a standard room online and then ask for an upgrade at check-in—you will be pleasantly surprised at how often you actually get one, especially if you are a member of the hotel’s loyalty program.

The best deals aren’t always the least expensive.

Often, with hotels, the deals are in the perks, not the prices. For example, if you usually eat breakfast at your hotel, booking a property with a free breakfast or a breakfast package can represent a significant savings. In addition, the add-on packages can sometimes be quite a steal. I once booked a room package in downtown Toronto that included parking, dinner, breakfast, and a bottle of wine. It wasn’t the lowest rate the hotel offered, but when all was said and done, it cost less than the normal room + parking would have.

All sites offer different deals, and none of them is “the absolute best” for every room, all of the time.

There can be huge differences (we’re talking up to 45%) between the rates on different sites—for the same room in the same hotel. So it pays to browse before you buy. That being said, prices can change, so if you see an excellent deal, snap it up!

You don’t have to be a professional deal finder to get low rates on hotel rooms. You just need to know where to look and how to recognize a great deal when you see one. Sign up today to start saving money on hotel rooms.