Does an Internet website or a national toll-free 800 number give you the best deal at a hotel? Not necessarily. Hotel rates are often quite negotiable. If you can spend a few minutes, you might be able to successfully bargain a much lower price once you know the steps involved.
The trick is to talk with people in authority at the local establishment. They will know how busy the hotel is going to be. They may also offer special rates at certain times of the year or days of the week that are not listed on the website. When business is slow, a local hotel may offer you extremely low rates just to get you to stay, since an empty room will not earn the company any money. Here are some ways to get a really good deal.
- Use the Internet or the national 800 number to find the phone number of the local hotel.
- When you call the local hotel, make sure that you talk with people in authority. It used to be that only managers could negotiate but these days many desk clerks have that authority as well.
- Ask for the lowest rate that they are offering for the type of room you need. Next ask if they have any specials this time of year. Keep talking and you may find that you will save as much as 40 percent. A general phrase such as, “What is your lowest rock bottom rate for this room?” or “Don’t you have specials this time of year?” often works. If you are a member of the AARP or other such group, mention this as well since these memberships often entitle you to special discounts.
- You will have more room to negotiate when the hotel is not full. Hotels tend to be busy at certain times and slow at other times. For example, in resort areas, the weekends are the peak times; in locations that cater to business, weekdays are the most popular. Certain times of years may be busier than others.
- Many hotel chains have a free discount ‘club’. I suggest joining that club, so that you have more bargaining power. For example, when you start your negotiations make sure that you tell the desk clerk that you are a member.
- After you have negotiated the lowest rate, ask for a free upgrade. This works especially well if you belong to their club. I have gotten suites at three different hotel chains simply by asking for a free upgrade after we had agreed on a low price for a standard room.