Life would be so much easier if there was one website that had all of the cheapest prices on it for everything we ever needed in life. Unfortunately this couldn’t exist in the free market due to competition, but it’s a nice thought isn’t it! If you are looking to get away this Christmas, then revisiting the same hotel you always do might not be the best option. The hotel industry is always changing based on demand and supply which opens up opportunities for bargains as they fluctuate.
To help find these good deals, I often use Trivago.com.au which is a travel metasearch engine comparing the prices of all the travel booking sites such as Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com and even Agoda and Hotelclub. As they say, however, there is more than one way to skin a cat. So if you don't manage to find a cheaper rate on the hotel you're looking at, there are a number of tips and tricks you can use to save money and keep costs down during your stay.
New is Cheaper
If you know of any new hotels opening up in the destination your looking to travel to, then generally speaking these hotels will offer introductory prices on their rooms when they first open. Hotels like to help spread the word about their opening dates along with any associated discounts, so be sure to skim the local news or do a quick Google search beforehand to look for these.
No Breakfast in Bed
Tripadvisor conducted a study on the price of hotel breakfasts versus local restaurant equivalents in over 37 destinations around the world. The results showed that all accommodation-only packages were cheaper than breakfast-included deals.
The most significant difference was from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where travellers managed to save $36.80 per night by choosing just a hotel package without breakfast. In Sydney, for example, the saving was $29.95 by choosing not to have breakfast included and instead choosing to eat in a local eatery.
Missing a Meal?
If on one of the days you happen to miss the meal that is included within the price of your hotel bill, possibly because you have an early flight to catch, its worth asking staff if they can prepare a takeaway box. They will usually accommodate your request with some snacks (general muffins or other food that will keep) to help you on your travels.
Certain hotels still in this day and age charge for Wi-Fi which is terrible practice in my eyes, buts it's their entitlement at the end of the day. Reading through a few hotel pages on Tripadvisor I’ve seen a common trend pop up from customers, mentioning that if you join a hotels rewards program you can get free access to Wi-Fi. Becoming a free loyalty member for the price of a few newsletter type emails in exchange for free Internet can be a very cheap price to pay. If you encounter this scenario, be sure to check out the perks of the hotels loyalty scheme before you shell out extortionate Internet rates.
Club Membership could Pay Off
If you are a big fan of a particular style of hotel then paying the price for their membership program could actually save you money if you visit regularly. Accor for example includes a range of hotels such as Sofitel, Ibis, Mercure, Novotel etc. and for $300 per year you can receive a vast variety of discounts, sometimes even 50% off food, complimentary drinks and even a free nights accommodation.
Also worth pointing out is that not only do hotel rewards programs tend to offer far better value than airline programs (e.g. frequent flyer schemes), but it's also much easier to climb the membership ladder to obtain VIP status. You can read this previous post on Buckscoop which covered this topic in more detail.
Hotels like Social Media
The power of social media isn’t just helping more people watch cat videos, it’s also being recognised by hotel brands as a powerful marketing tool. Try checking a hotel's Facebook page before you visit to see if there are any incentives to win a free night’s stay. Possibilities are endless, but for example the requirement might be to take a picture on your way to the hotel and upload it or receive a discount for liking their page. The 1888 Sydney hotel, for example, gives guests the chance of winning a night at the hotel if they upload a picture onto Instagram and hashtag the hotel.
You should also remember to visit the coupons and vouchers page on Buckscoop to see whether any of the hotel booking sites currently have active vouchers offering discounts.
Check the Hotel's Own Website
Even if a booking website like Expedia or Hotels.com seems to have the best price, its always worth checking the hotels own website before you finalise payment to see if they have any special discounts. The Starwood Hotels and Resort offers a 15% discount to customers who book 21 days in advance. Another good reason (and this is very important) to call up hotels directly, is that many of them have price matching policies so will actually charge you the same as the best rate you've found elsewhere online. This helps eliminate the risk of arriving at a hotel, showing the front desk your 3rd party booking reference only to be told there's no such matching reservation in their system. I've had this happen to me on numerous occasions in the past, although admittedly more so abroad than locally.
The other reason why it's a good idea to book through the hotel themselves, is that I've heard that the selection of rooms allocated to 3rd party booking sites aren't as high quality as the ones they keep for themselves. Rooms with better views, more space and newer furniture/amenities are some of the aspects that you're far more likely to get when reserving directly with a hotel.
Give me an Upgrade
Always be friendly to the hotel receptionist, especially when you arrive at the hotel for the first time. After the pleasantries of introducing yourself and asking to check in are finished, the very next question you should ask is if there are any potential free upgrades. A hotel may receive cancellations that make better rooms available, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
It goes without saying, that little devil fridge in your hotel room will only ever lead to great expense. No matter how tired, thirsty or hungry you are, do whatever you can to avoid dipping into its treacherous depths. The corner shop will most likely have the same products at a third of the price.
Always check to see if your hotel runs an airport shuttle service because the difference in paying for a taxi compared to a free shuttle could be the different between a standard and a deluxe room. I generally find that Tripadvisor is a good source of information to find out about tips and advice for individual hotels, besides Buckscoop of course.
Family and Friends Discount
Employers sometimes have memberships with international hotel groups so it’s a good idea to check if yours, or your spouses, family or friends employers do. It’s generally quite a simple process to get 15% discount on a hotel booking. Employees usually have to fill out a form proving the relationship to be awarded the discount.
These tips are some that I have used in the past and certainly some that I intend to use this Christmas. If you found any of this useful or have any tips of your own to share with our community, please use the comments section below to add your thoughts.