Summer is also a great time to head for the city. Business travel is down in a big way this year, thanks to the recession and a strong backlash against corporate excess. This has affected individual hotels—and entire cities—that rely on business and conventions as a major source of travel revenue. For leisure travelers, that means one thing: deals, if you know where to look.
Las Vegas, in particular, has been slammed by a one-two punch: Convention attendance (as well as the number of conventions) has been sliding recently, while overall visitor volume has dropped every month for almost a year. And the visitors that do come to Vegas are gambling less, putting hotels in a desperate position and forcing them to cut rates and offer deals.
As for those hotels—let's just say things are grim right now. Hotels have slashed rates and are offering deals in the hopes of kick-starting reservations, but thus far have failed to move the needle very much. Vacationers can take advantage of the situation by pricing rooms at hotels that traditionally cater to business travelers. Business hotels may not always have an ideal location from a tourism standpoint, but they do tend to be upscale and represent a good value if you can snag a low rate. Business hotels also tend to be cheaper on weekends. Our sister site TripAdvisor just released a new search tool designed specifically to single out these hotels.
Another appealing option for city stays is a vacation rental. The merits of renting an apartment or house in the city are well known, but in tough economic times, the money-saving benefits of renting are more important than ever. Rentals often sleep several people, so a few couples or families can rent together and split the cost, while having a kitchen means you can save money on meals.
Apartments also offer a unique insight into a city in a way hotels generally can't. If you look for rentals that are tucked away in less-visited neighborhoods of the city, such as the East Village in New York or Ballard in Seattle, you'll get a taste of what it's like to be a resident of the city, not a tourist. You'll shop where the locals shop and eat where they eat. Just make sure you have easy access to all the sights you want to visit.
Plus, it's not as if the tough economic climate has spared the vacation rental industry. Many of the bigger vacation rental outlets have been running sales recently, so you can save when you book, too.