Four tips for negotiating low hotel prices(Read article summary)
For the best hotel prices, pick up the phone and negotiate for lower rates, Hamm writes.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma/AP/File
Several years ago, Sarah and I visited the Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa with another couple. We decided to stay in a hotel there for two nights so we could stay up late with friends we hadnâ€™t seen in a long while.
Our friends had chosen a hotel online and booked a room, so we decided to just stay at the same hotel for that weekend. However, when I went to book that room online, I was stunned at the price. I didnâ€™t want to pay that much.
So, I placed a call to that hotel. I spoke to a receptionist, and then to a manager, about reserving a room for that weekend. I told him that our budget was limited and that we were considering staying at another hotel (presumably their main competition) as well as a bed and breakfast in the area.
The manager almost immediately offered me a rate that was about 40% of what I could find online. I agreed to the rate and placed the reservation, and I received a confirmation email shortly thereafter confirming the rate.Â
The end result? We spent less for two nights than our friends likely spent for one night in the same hotel.
Itâ€™s important to note thatÂ this is a tactic that works best when youâ€™re traveling to a less-populated place, such as a city under 50,000 people or a small tourist destination.Â I have tried this with great success in cities or areas with only a few hotels, and my success has been much lower in more heavily populated areas.
If you do try this, here are a few tips.
One,Â the manager at such hotels is usually the one with the power to offer low rates.Â Often, the first person you talk to couldnâ€™t give you a low rate even if they wanted to, so feel free to go ahead and ask to speak to the manager.
Two,Â donâ€™t be afraid to directly ask for a rate.Â Tell the receptionist or the manager that you already have a room quoted at a lower rate and that youâ€™ll stay elsewhere if the rate canâ€™t be matched. Thereâ€™s nothing rude about this â€“ youâ€™re simply trying to find a bargain.
Three,Â donâ€™t be afraid to shop around by phone right before the cutoff to cancel your reservation.Â Letâ€™s say you have to cancel your reservation at 6 PM the night before your stay. At 5 PM that evening, call a few of that hotelâ€™s competitors and inquire about a room starting tomorrow night and just directly compare that to the rate you already have.
Finally,Â include bed and breakfasts in your comparison.Â Most of the best lodging deals Iâ€™ve found in such places have been bed and breakfasts, where weâ€™ve actually been staying in the attic of an older personâ€™s home and they serve us a nice breakfast right at their kitchen table. If you call one of these places shortly before youâ€™re going to stay, you can sometimes find one at a really low rate. The nicest bed and breakfast Sarah and I ever stayed at cost $30 a night and included an amazing home-cooked breakfast â€“ I suspect the couple just loved having the company.
Donâ€™t just book hotel rooms online. Try using the phone â€“ sometimes you can get a very nice rate by just talking to someone.
This post is part of a yearlong series called â€ś365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),â€ť in which Iâ€™m revisiting the entries from my book â€ś365 Ways to Live Cheap,â€ť which is availableÂ at AmazonÂ and at bookstores everywhere.Â