Ok, so here’s the disclaimer.
As well as running a travel blog, I also work in hotels.
Yes my love affair with tourism doesn’t just start and end with my personal passion, or my online endeavours, but actually extends into my 9-5 life too.
Although that said, I can’t actually remember the last time I just worked a simple 9-5!
After all, if it’s one thing bloggers and hoteliers have in common it’s that they work around the clock …. But I digress.
Essentially I have good experience within an industry that is crucial to the travel experience and definitely know a thing or 2 about how the whole system of reservation and bookings works.
Being able to find a cheap hotel is really a case of knowing how to navigate this system, so here are my insider hotel ideas when it comes to grabbing yourself a bargain.
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#1 Always Book Direct
If you didn’t already know, then all those third-party agent websites such as Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia or Hotels.com all charge a commission.
Instead of this being aimed at the customer however, it’s the hotel that has to pay this on every single booking they receive via these channels.
Sometimes this commission can be as much as 20%, depending on the agent and the country.
While these third-party agent websites do give the best prices to customers, their hefty commission ultimately leaves the hotel with less at the end of it.
Booking direct however does not incur the hotel any commission. These means they are receiving 100% of your accommodation price, rather than shelling out up to 20% to other companies.
When called, most hotels will quote the same rate as that advertised on those third-party agent websites. If not you can ask them to match it.
In addition, hotels are then normally willing to drop their direct quoted price by around 5-10%, because this will still result in a greater profit for them when compared to any commission cuts they’d otherwise pay to third-party agent websites.
Et volia …
Cheap Hotel Ideas #1:
You get the best price around when booked direct
Here’s the step-by-step guide:
- Use those third-party websites to get some hotel ideas in your intended location
- Make a selection and google the hotels for phone numbers
- Call the hotels and get them to price-match the third-party websites if they don’t already
- Then ask if it’s the best price they can do.
- Suggest you have a budget in mind and sit this at 10% below the given price
- Achieve the cheapest rate!
#2 Check if Business or Leisure Driven
Knowing whether the accommodation you’re looking to book caters largely to business or leisure travellers (despite your intentions) is a great piece of research when it comes to the best hotel ideas about how to grab a bargain.
There are many clues to help you gauge this answer including
- the location of your chosen hotel – is it in a business area?
- whether your selected hotel is part of a chain – are they leisure or business focused?
- the branding of your chosen hotel – are the colours / décor / tone neutral and professional or colourful and fun?
- the sort of facilities they provide – is there a pool, a bar, a spa, a conference room?
Once you’ve worked out whether the hotel you’d like to stay in is business or leisure driven, you can then work out the best days to stay there and / or to book in order to grab a great deal.
It goes without saying that if you are looking at staying in a business hotel, even if it’s for leisure purposes yourself, the cheapest rates will be found at the weekend.
That’s simply because the business (wo)men have gone home on those days and the hotel is looking to fill their rooms as much as possible during the quieter times on a Friday / Saturday / Sunday night.
If you’ve decided the hotel you’d like to stay at is predominantly leisure-focused, then the opposite is true: you will get the best rate for a room during the week, so look to make your booking on a Monday – Thursday.
If you’re set on a particular hotel, but can’t budge on dates, then look at the types of hotels that offer the cheapest rooms on the days you want to stay.
For example, if you know you need accommodation on a Tuesday and Wednesday night, check leisure hotels for the cheapest deals.
Or, if you’re looking to stay somewhere at the weekend, then steer towards business-driven hotels for best rates available.
Cheap Hotel Ideas #2:
You get the best rates during the offpeak times
#3 Book as Early as Possible
Yes ok, sometimes you can score a mystery last-minute deal for an absolute bargain but, by and large, the best hotel ideas for grabbing a cheap room involve booking early.
As early as possible.
Normally a good time is up to 6-8 weeks months in advance, but definitely earlier if you’re travelling for a major event or to a very popular destination.
That’s because most hotel prices increase with occupancy.
Essentially, this means the rates are staggered, or tiered, according to how many rooms have already been filled.
The more rooms filled (the higher the occupancy levels) the higher the rate being charged for a room.
So, by booking as early as possible, you are increasing your chances of reserving a room when occupancy is as low as possible and therefore when rates are lowest too.
Cheap Hotel Ideas #3:
You get the best rates by booking as early as possible
#4 Let Them Know You Are a Repeat Customer
Hotels love repeat business because return guests know what to expect and are easily managed.
This saves a hotel time and money.
Mentioning that you are a return customer when you call up to book direct is therefore a great way to grab a bargain rate at a hotel.
Ditto, it’s worth naming dropping when you book direct if you’ve been referred by a previous guest, as this may lower the rate for you too.
Throwing in phrases such as “we loved x feature about the property last time we stayed” or “we always stay with you when we visit x” is a great way to do this!
Think smart people!
Cheap Hotel Ideas #4:
Make it clear you are a returning guest
#5 Try Out New Hotels
Another one of those great hotel ideas for grabbing a bargain is to stay at a brand new property.
While this may feel like a bit of a gamble, it usually pays off as new properties have some incredible opening rate specials to attract guests.
Generally, any new hotels are more likely to have low occupancy, in comparison to more established properties, which also keep prices low.
And, on top of this, they are usually very fresh-faced and keen to please, meaning your chance of a free upgrade is pretty high (especially if you mention writing a review for them!)
Cheap Hotel Ideas #5:
Don’t be afraid to book at a new hotel, it often pays off
#6 Seek Deals
Despite all these innovative cheap hotel ideas, sometimes the old ones can be hard to beat!
And a classic old one is to make sure you’re ahead of the game and informed when it comes to grabbing a deal.
By this I mean signing up to hotel newsletters, programming price alerts on websites and utilising any membership deals.
All of these are easy to do, you just have to be a bit organised!
Cheap Hotel Ideas #6:
Put in the effort to get deals to your inbox
#7 Stay Longer
Another classic money-saving hotel tip that definitely works every time is to book multiple nights in one place.
In other words, to stay as long as you can.
The longer your potential stay, the greater your bargaining power when you book direct.
That’s because long stay guests create less work for hotels, both in terms of front office procedures and housekeeping duties.
This reduction in outgoing costs make long stay guests very attractive to hotels and often accommodation providers are willing to drop their rates as a result.
Cheap Hotel Ideas #7:
Book multiple nights in one location
#8 Check Out Top Secret Hotels
And my final insider tip about when it comes to finding a cheap hotel room is to utilise what some booking agents term as ‘Top Secret Hotels’.
This is a particularly good option if you are looking to book somewhere last minute.
Also known as ‘Mystery Hotels’, the concept revolves around you booking a stay in a hotel you don’t the name of.
Sound like a big risk to take?
Well, it can be!
However, the element of risk is tampered by the fact that you’ll always generally be given the star rating, rough location and stand-out features of your hotel before booking. It’s worth adding that normally they are luxury hotels too!
This means you’ll also almost always grab an absolute steal. Sometimes up to 40% off!
That’s because the rooms that go on these sites, drastically reduce rate at the last minute in order to fill them, in turn meaning you can score an absolute bargain!
Originally started by lastminute.com, there are now a host of different websites offering similar style programmes, including Travelocity and Priceline which all work surprisingly well.
Just remember to read the small print and this could be one of the best hotel ideas you every had!
Cheap Hotel Ideas #8:
Bite the bullet with top secret hotels
So there you have it, 8 insider tips for how to find a cheap hotel.
Have you used any of these methods to score yourself a bargain?
Which was your favourite?