Guest blogger Gregory Miller is a former hospitality consultant currently residing in New York.
Hotels often represent a significant portion of total vacation costs when traveling. However, there are great and easy ways to save money before you plan your next vacation. Take it from me, a consultant and veteran of the hospitality industry who has been to over 30 countries and conducted work on all four corners of the United States. Not all of my tips are intuitive, but I can assure that you will save money if you follow them.
Stay In Business Park Hotels Over The Weekends
Going against the grain is the best way to take advantage of hotel discounts. Suppose you are heading to a big city for a weekend getaway. Some downtown hotels will charge you more during the weekend than during the weekday—sometimes significantly more! However, you might be able to save hundreds of dollars by staying in hotels in the suburbs. My favorite hotels are those in or near business parks—often you can find excellent quality hotels that have very low occupancy (30-50%) during most weekends. Plus, many of these hotels offer free parking, free WiFi, and a continental breakfast. You can rent a car or hire a taxi from your hotel and often still save lots of money over staying in a prime downtown location. Excellent neighborhoods with good “business park” hotels near major tourist areas include:
- Atlanta (Decatur/North Druid Hills, south Buckhead)
- Dallas (Addison, Richardson)
- Philadelphia (Mt. Laurel)
- Phoenix (Tempe)
- San Antonio (North and West Loop Along TX-1604)
- San Diego (Escondido, North San Diego County)
- San Francisco (south San Francisco, Emeryville).
Extended-Stay Hotels For Families
Extended-stay hotels undeservedly get a bad rap. However, most major hotel chains have nice extended-stay hotel brands that offer excellent space, complementary breakfast, evening hors d'oeuvres, and various amenities. While these hotels gear to travelers staying more than 5 nights, they are also excellent options for families on vacation. The ability to spread out and get free meals are often worth the extra $10 per night over a standard hotel room. The hotels are often empty on weekends, so they would love to have you!
Negotiate Your Rate During Working Hours
Hotels can be flexible on room rates—particularly outside North America. While discounted rates are tougher to claim on this side of the Atlantic, all hope is not lost. You do have to know when to call. You may be rebuffed if you call a hotel at 8 PM because there may not be anyone on property who has the authority to make any changes. However, you might have better luck during 9-5 working hours. Call the Front Desk Manager when you are deciding on hotels. Have other quoted hotels' rates ready to present. What helps you get a lower rate: the longer you stay, the more rooms you seek, and the time of your stay (not during peak vacation periods). Just remember that it never hurts to ask the hotel for a cheaper rate—particularly if you are nice about it.
Travel To Dream Cities in January
Most hotels are notoriously quiet during January. Even winter vacation destinations like ski and warm-weather areas do not tend to see strong occupancy until at least a few weeks into January. If you can afford to take time off—go right after the first of the year. Expensive destinations such as Florida, Arizona, the Colorado Rockies, and the Caribbean can be surprisingly affordable in early January.
New Hotels Offer Surprising Discounts
New businesses tend to offer promotions when they open. Hotels are no different! Hotels that are either new or recently changed “flags” (hotel brands) often are desperate for business and their room rates can be quite low. Take advantage of these potential discounts by asking travel agents about new hotels or do some online research about your proposed travel destination. Often, you can learn about newly opened hotels in the hospitality industry press. If you really want to be creative, you can be a true hotel insider. Some major hospitality research firms have free search tools where you can research new hotels and those under construction. Hotel brand companies also list this information on their websites. This information is available for free and is relatively easy to find—so take advantage.
Going against the grain on vacations can save money—from your airfare to your car rental to restaurants. Hotels are no different! Be independent when you are deciding where to stay and you can save a lot of money and perhaps stay at a much nicer hotel than you might have thought you could afford! Good luck!
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