If you’re ignoring opportunities to reduce hotel costs, you’re missing out on major savings. “People shop for the lowest airfare when the most costly item of a trip is hotel accommodations,” says Jens Jurgen, a travel expert and editor of Travel Companions, a bimonthly newsletter published in Amityville, New York. While hotel rates are more flexible than the average person realizes, it takes some advanced planning to find the best deal. Heed this hotel-haggling advice for price breaks:
- Work the Web. An online search may link you with special discounts. Also, consider that you may save as much as 60% on a room rate in the U.S. if you book through Priceline (www.price line.com) or another discount service.
- Disconnect from a general reservation line. When it’s time to book, call the individual hotel to negotiate the lowest room rate and inquire about special deals. Only use the toll-free reservation number for general information.
- Get with a program. Organizations, professional associations, credit unions and travel clubs may entitle you to substantial discounts. Let the hotel know of your affiliations (e.g., American Automobile Association or National Association of Female Executives). Also inquire about senior citizen or corporate discounts, and find out if your credit card offers discounted rates to cardholders.
- Use your loyalty as leverage. Participating in a hotel’s frequent-stay program may afford you lower room rates, a free overnight stay or other amenities. Marc Brogdon, a senior account executive at the Disney Channel in Burbank, California, used his loyalty to negotiate a standing rate at the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland, even though the hotel didn’t offer a formal frequent-stay program.
- Book with brokers. Hotel brokers offer negotiated discount room rates from selected hotels. When you call, ask for a list of participating hotels and cities. The Room Exchange (800-846-7000), for example, has rooms for from 20% to 50% off, but prices vary by city, hotel and season.