21 things you should do the next time you book a hotel if you want to score the best deals

Shutterstock/ariadna de raadtAnything from booking your room at a certain time to joining loyalty programs can bring the total cost of your hotel stay down.
  • Staying at a nice hotel doesn’t have to break the bank.
  • Business Insider spoke to experts to find out simple strategies you can use to find the best hotel prices for your next trip.
  • The tips include booking at newly opened hotels, checking in near the end of the day, and bundling your flight and hotel.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

You don’t have to overpay for a hotel room – there are tricks and tips you can use to find the best room rates so you can enjoy your trip guilt-free.

Business Insider spoke to industry professionals to get their best tips for booking a room, including Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert at Coupons.com, Josh Belkin, the vice president of Hotels.com’s global brand, Cheryl Rosner, the founder of Stayful, and Ivy Chou, the former content and marketing director of DealsPlus.com.

Keep reading for their advice on when to book a hotel room and how to find hidden discounts to save money on your next vacation.


1. Look into business hotels.

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According to Pavini, a savings expert at Coupons.com, business hotels can provide great deals, especially when travelling within Europe.

The reason is that business can often be slow during summer months and on weekends at hotels that cater to business travellers, which can lead to lower prices.


2. Ask for a corner room.

Pavini also recommends opting for a corner room, since you’ll typically get more square footage for the same price.

If you’re looking to upgrade to a corner room, Pavini suggests that you be discreet and avoid asking at times when there are several guests waiting to be assisted at the front desk.


3. Check in near the end of the day.

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If you’re hoping to snag an upgrade, checking in toward the end of the day might be your answer.

According to Pavini, since hotels have a better sense of occupancy by that point, they are more likely to offer upgrades that are still available.


4. Instead of calling the 800 reservation numbers, call the hotel directly.

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The reason Pavini suggests doing this is because, often, people who are working directly at the property have a greater ability to upgrade you.

If you stay at a hotel regularly, keeping a friendly relationship with it and booking directly can also increase your perks.


5. Book within the cancellation period.

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According to Rosner, the founder of Stayful, when it comes to hotels, sometimes waiting until the last minute can help you snag a better price tag.

Typically, a hotel’s cancellation falls anywhere between 24 to 48 hours in advance, at which point rooms become available at lower rates.


6. Bundle your hotel and flight booking.

Belkin, the global vice president Hotels.com, recommends trying to bundle a flight purchase and hotel booking, as it can often lead to savings for both simultaneously.


7. Sign up for a hotel’s loyalty programs.

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“One of the best ways to receive free upgrades is to sign up for a loyalty program and stick to it,” Pavini said.

Marriott’s loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, includes a best-rate guarantee for guests, free Wi-Fi on each trip, and access to exclusive events and experiences, among other things. Many programs also include free nights or free items with bookings.


8. Or opt to sign up for loyalty programs through booking websites.

Hotels.com

While hotels directly offer loyalty programs, third-party booking sites do as well.

For example, loyalty members with Hotels.com can book 10 nights and get one for free. The 10 nights can be mixed and matched in different locations.


9. Sign up for alerts on price drops.

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When you don’t have the time to keep a close eye on prices, sign up for alerts through websites like Hotels.com and Kayak.

They will take care of the work for you, emailing you when the prices start to drop while ensuring that they don’t flood your inbox.


10. Check to see where prices are increasing and decreasing.

If you’re not set on a particular destination, take a look at Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index, which provides information on where hotel prices are increasing and decreasing.

The results are based on bookings made on the website and prices paid by customers per room per night, including taxes and fees.


11. Tap into apps.

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Apps can help you unlock a world of discounts.

Apps like Hotel Tonight can get you top-notch last-minute discounts on rooms, while loyalty members can access a secret prices section within the Hotels.com app to get rooms for $US200 and under during peak times, like weekends.


12. Book a room at a new property.

Pavini also recommends booking a room at a newly opened hotel, since this can sometimes lead to lower rates. The hotel will be looking to increase business and get the word out, which can often lead to the ability to snag upgrades, according to Pavini.


13. Use coupon codes.

Coupons might not be the first thing you think about when looking to book a room, but websites like Coupons.com and DealsPlus.com have entire sections of coupon codes for travellers.

These include discounts on hotel stays in various destinations and on flights.


14. Mention when it’s a special occasion.

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Whether it’s your birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, or first time at a hotel, it never hurts to mention that you’re there celebrating a special time.

Sometimes, it can lead to upgrades or amenity kits that help make your stay all the more special.


15. Follow the rule of opposites.

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Rosner recommends going with “the opposites” – booking when the majority would not book.

Rosner mentioned that hotels in business districts can offer great deals during the weekend, while resort areas should be booked midweek for the best savings.


16. Look for reciprocal opportunities for earning points.

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Hotels work with various companies to offer guests the chance to earn points.

For example, Starwood Preferred Guests can earn points when using Uber during their stay, and Marriott guests can earn points for shopping for flowers, gifts, and wines on select websites.


17. Refer your friends.

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Hotels like referrals that bring in new business, and often reward guests for it.

Marriott will give guests up to 50,000 bonus points for referrals, and 10,000 bonus points for free for referred friends.

Similarly, websites like Stayful offer $US25 off each time you refer a friend.


18. Book a secret hotel.

Secret hotel rooms are essentially rooms that are being sold at a reduced price from hotels that don’t want the rooms left empty.

You won’t know which hotel you’re booking the room in upfront, but savings can often be as much as 20% to 50% off the original listed price.

Examples include LastMinute.com’s Top Secret Hotels section and Hotwire’s secret rates.


19. See what perks your credit card offers.

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Chou suggests checking what your credit card can provide, in addition to enrolling in hotel rewards programs. Most credit cards like Discover and Capital One Venture offer travellers everything from cashback to bonus points or miles.


20. Use membership programs and special offers.

According to Chou, members of programs like AAA, AARP, ADP, and even the American Bar Association can access special discounts.

This can include 25% off bookings, free activity vouchers, and up to $US100 off Disneyland Resort hotels.


21. Follow up if there are any problems with your stay.

Often, issues like noisy neighbours or a messy room can ruin your hotel experience. If this happens, Pavini urges you to speak up. “It could be an upgrade for the rest of your stay, a credit to your account, or drink vouchers for the bar,” he told Business Insider.

Talia Avakian contributed to an earlier version of this article.

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