13 Ways to Save Money on Hotel Bills
It’s summer time, which means your family may be going on some spontaneous vacations or road trips. These can be expensive, to say the least. First, there’s the exuberant gas prices. Then, there’s eating out each day. And, of course, you must purchase souvenirs. And, while these expenses can add up very quickly, when it comes to your hotel bill, there are some simple tricks to ensuring your hotel bills don’t overtake your vacation budget. In this post, we’ll explore 14 of them. Then, in the comment section, don’t forget to add any that we missed.
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- Make a few phone calls to compare prices.
As you probably already know, all hotels don’t cost the same. There’s luxury hotels and not-so luxury ones. But, did you know that hotels sometimes vary their prices. For example, some hotels offer discounts when they have a lot of empty rooms. If you haven’t taken the time to call around and compare prices, you may miss out on an incredible deal. So, before booking a hotel for the night, pull out your iPhone or even head to the local library to search for all the contact information of the nearby hotels, then give a few a call to find out what their current days deals are.
- Check with organizations where you have a membership or are affiliated.
Organizations like AARP and AAA have great benefits, including discounts on hotels, rental cars and more. In addition, credit cards often offer hidden benefits. Yours just might include hotel savings. So, before you book your hotel for the night, check with your credit card companies and other card-based memberships and find out what discounts they offer.
In addition, many of us are affiliated with various educational or work organizations. Don’t forget to check with the hotel you choose to see if it offers discounts for being a student, being in the military, being a government worker, being members of educational organizations or groups, or any such affiliations. And if one hotel doesn’t offer such discounts, it doesn’t mean nearby hotels won’t, so check around before settling on a room. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- Flexibility can save a bundle.
In some small towns across our great nation, you may find that you have very few hotel options to choose from. But, that doesn’t mean the discounts are there. In choosing a hotel room, flexibility can go a long way in finding a great deal. For example, consider asking about rooms with different sleeping arrangements. Being willing to accept a room with two single beds instead of one large bed can save you a bundle. And, sometimes, vice versa.
- Don’t forget to look for bundle deals.
It may intuitively seem that bundling means that you’re getting more so you can’t possibly save on just the hotel but, don’t let that fool you. The truth is that package deals, even if you don’t use the other portions of the package, such as airfare, can often mean big lodging savings. The New York Time reports that the average savings for bundles is $540 and that many travelers opt for the bundle even if they’re just going to use the hotel savings. Still, they come out with extra hotel savings. The reason hotels can offer such low prices in bundle deals is that, since the actual nightly rate isn’t published, the bundle deal protects their public pricing, ensuring that consumers don’t expect such prices in future stays. So, look around in the area to find bundle deals that may offer you extras for less than your hotel room would typically cost.
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- Try coupon apps.
Many coupon apps can offer you invaluable savings on last minute local hotel stays. Zoupons, for example, allows you to select the type of savings you’re looking for, be it hotel stays or local restaurants, and it will offer you coupons in your local area. All you have to do is download the app and the app will automatically detect your location and look for the nearest search-relevant options. And, the great thing with Zoupons is that, since it was designed for entrepreneurs to offer coupons to their potential customers, in addition to offering large chain-hotel coupons, it will often offer you hard-to-find coupons on even small non-chain hotels. Then, once you get to your destination hotel, simply present the coupon to redeem your savings.
- If there’s a loyalty program, join it!
Like drugstore loyalty programs, many hotel chains also have loyalty programs you can join. And, most are free to join. Take, for example, Marriot’s loyalty program. You can join for free and enjoy such benefits as free stays, discounted rates, free breakfasts, free internet access and more, depending on your program level. And, the more you use it, the better the deals get. For example, if you have to stay for a few nights, the fifth night is free. Though Marriot can be somewhat pricy, make sure you check with whatever hotel you frequent for any such opt-in program. They’re generally free to join and have many discount and even freebies perks.
- Seek out refunds (yes, refunds!).
Have you heard of the new Walmart app that allows you to scan your receipt? Here’s how it works: after you’ve made your purchase, simply scan your receipt with the app. The app then searches nearby stores to see if you could have purchased the product at a lower price elsewhere. If it finds a lower price, Walmart will refund you the difference.
Tingo.com works just like Walmart’s app. Start by booking your hotel through the site. It will then monitor the price to find the very best deal. Then, if after booking your room, it finds a better deal or the price suddenly drops, it will refund the difference to the credit card it has on file. In this way, you don’t have to worry if you’ve gotten the best price. Simply let the app do the legwork for you and save money while you’re at it.
- Social media can keep you in the deal loop.
Many companies, including local hotels and hotel chains, announce their deals via their social media channels. That is, if you follow their social media channels, you can be alerted to money-saving hotel deals right from your newsfeed.
Aside from following hotels chains and local hotels, consider interacting with them on social media. After leaving some favorable social proof for their company, you may be surprised to find a great deal offer in return. Here’s how it works:
- Simply tweet your destination hotel before you head out, letting them know you’re excited to be staying with them that night. You may get a coupon in return for the favorable view.
- Or, if you’re comfortable with being more forward about it, try tweeting your destination hotel to ask what deals they’re offering now.
- Lastly, you can “like” or follow the hotel loyalty program social media pages to get updates on the latest sales. Then, before you head out on your journey, check the page to see what deals are available. Or, if your loved-ones are traveling with you, have them keep an eye on the page from their mobile phones or other devices as you travel for any last minute deals.
All of these social suggestions by CNN.com are certainly worth the try.
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- There are some great last-minute hotel savings sites out there.
Many websites are offered specifically to help you locate the perfect last-minute hotel deal. HotelTonight.com, for example, is offered on Apple, Google and Windows phones as an app. It figures out where you are and then looks for nearby hotels, searching specifically for the best deals and discounts for that night. In addition, it tells you exactly which amenities are offered in the deal. Then, just tap away to book the deal. The New York Times estimates that you can save anywhere from 15% to 40% using such sites. Just be sure they are reputable and recommended by quality sources.
Here are some other highly recommended hotel saving sites:
- Trivago: Recommended by CBSlocal, Trivago.com allows you to search for deals by area and then shows you the best deals it has found from over 200 hotel deal sites. So, instead of having to search each site individually, Trivago does the work for you.
- Kayak: This site was also recommended by CBSlocal. Kayak.com is another search engine where you can find hotel deals and even packages for extra savings on hotels and other travel costs. It searches hundreds of sites for the best deal for you.
- Hipmunk: Forbes recommends Hipmunk.com where you can put in your destination and it will search all over the Internet for the best deal.
Other highly recommended sites include www.tripadvisor.com, www.orbitz.com, www.hotels.com, www.hotwire.com, and www.priceline.com.
Bonus tip: many travelers shy away from bidding sites because they don’t know what to bid. There’s a website for that! BiddingTraveler.com offers an algorithm that can assess exactly what lodging options you’re bidding on and then recommend a good bidding price. This app is great for benchmarking how high you should bid and still get a good deal.
- If you travel frequently to the same place, be loyal to one hotel.
If you’re like many summer travelers, you’re going to see loved ones multiple times throughout the summer months. This means that you have the option of being loyal to one hotel. Though they may not advertise it, even hotels that don’t offer a loyalty program will often offer discounts to repeat customers. So, get to know the desk clerks and managers at those hotels you frequently stay at. And, be polite and considerate throughout your stay. Then, when you come back, mention that you’ve stayed there before and were very satisfied. If they offer discounts for loyal customers, they’ll likely let you know then.
- Avoid the crowds.
Jeff Haden of Inc.com recommends that you find out when and where the rush crowds are located and avoid them. For example, during the week, don’t stay in the business district of large cities where business people are sure to be looking for lodging. Instead, stay in the more tourist areas during the week and stay in the business district on weekends. In doing so, you help to fill rooms during hotel down-times, giving hotels extra incentives to offer you a great price for meeting their need.
In addition, if there is a big event going on in your destination area, don’t try to get a great deal on a hotel when rooms are filled to the brim. Instead, consider searching for a hotel in a nearby town where hotels will be looking to fill empty rooms. The more booked the hotel, the higher the prices will be.
- Check for added fees or costs.
When you book a hotel room, make sure you know exactly what you are committing your budget to. You may find that a basic room rate fits cozily into your budget but the hotel charges you for Internet access, gym access or parking. So, when you are comparing prices, make sure you’re comparing the entire price by asking what added fees or charges you can expect from the amenities you require and lodging needs you must have met.
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- Try alternative lodging.
Consider a bed and breakfast or, if you have a large crew with you, consider renting someone’s vacation home. Many times, especially during off seasons, you can find some great deals. For example, if you’re going to a ski-resort area during the summer, look around for great deals on off-season lodging opportunities.
If you’ve tried all of these money savings methods and still haven’t found the deal you’re looking for, consider simply asking. Many hotels want your business. And, to secure your business and your loyalty (again mention it if you’re going to be a repeat customer), some will offer you discounts just because. They don’t advertise these discounts and they may only be offered on an ask-basis. If you don’t ask, you don’t get them. A simple, “I’d love to stay here but it’s a little over my budget. Are you able to offer any lower of a price?” would suffice. The worst that can happen is you get a no.
Summer time can be an expensive time of the year. The heat brings thousands flocking to the beach. Children are on their summer breaks and parents want to spend as much family fun time as possible. Then, there’s visiting the relatives while the kids can go, too. With all these trips, even if we’re careful, expenses can add up quickly. And, lodging is often one of the biggest expenses we face during summer travel. But, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on it. With a little know-how and some proactive steps, you can save money on lodging, allowing more of your budget to go toward the fun activities that await you at your summer destination. We hope that this guide has helped you do just this. Be safe and happy travels!
We’d love to know: Did we miss any great hotel savings tips? If you have a great one, leave it in our comment section below