You may have seen an ad boasting huge percentage discounts on hotel rooms. Maybe it got your attention, but it's unlikely to hold up when subject to scrutiny. Here's why:
- That percentage discount is likely to be "subtracted" from the room's rack rate (the highest price of the room on specific days during a peak booking period). Since it's unlikely that you'll ever be charged that rate, the discount isn't really a discount at all.
- Advertisers also like to add "extras" into the room rate to justify that "70% off" or even "80% off" claim. This 'value' may also include daily breakfast, internet access, and other surcharge-carrying services into the nightly rate. The discount, therefore, isn't based on just the room, but on all the related services that might not be of use to you.
- Hotel prices are constantly changing. If an event is coming to town, room rates will skyrocket as demand is at a premium. Conversely, if there are long periods of lower vacancy (hurricane season in the Caribbean, for example), room prices will plummet. Trying to determine the value of a percentage savings off such volatile price points is, at best, an inexact science.
So, how do you know you're getting the best hotel deal? Here are our top tips!
- Don't just check one site and call it a day. By comparing prices across providers, major online travel agencies, and the website of your favorite hotel brand, you may find that one site undercuts the rest—or offers a little something extra for the same price.
- Go opaque. You can often find great savings by searching for hotel rooms with our partners, such as Hotwire or Priceline. You'll see the room class, neighborhood, amenities, price, and read reviews before you buy. If you're willing to take a chance with the brand, searching opaque sites is a great way to save.
- Compare apples to apples. Make sure you're checking the same offerings across providers. To ensure you're getting a good deal, you'll want to compare prices for similar room types at all hotels.
- Check for discounts. Oftentimes, hotels offer additional savings for AAA and AARP members, students, military personnel, teachers, and other groups.
- Join a private sale site. Sign up for a luxury discount hotels site, such as JetSetter, which offers exclusive, members-only discounts at the finest properties around the world.