Boy, did I learn my lesson about hotel reservations recently. I diligently called hotel after hotel searching for a "great" (after awhile even "fair" was starting to look appealing) rate. What did I find?
Well, for starters, the Internet served up the lowest rate time and time again. When I mentioned the online rate to reservationists at the actual hotel, they didn't know anything about the special and said I would have to book online to get this rate. So I did. Then I did some checking.
This is what I found:
- When you make a reservation, avoid calling the 800 lines for large chains. They usually aren't aware of special promos and you will have a better chance of getting a better rate if you book online or directly with the hotel.
- When booking your reservation, call at a non-peak time. Reservationists will have more time to talk to you and will be more patient as you ask for the lowest price and then ask them to lower it (this is what BestFares.com recommends you do when making a reservation.)
- Never, ever pay full rate unless you are in the city of the Olympics and it's the last room available. If you are making a last minute reservation, ask the reservationist if they offer discounts for organizations. AAA and others negotiate deals, but often the reservationist won't even ask if you belong to an organization. He/she will assume you do and will offer you a lower rate.
- Ask if a hotel has a frequent-guest rate. Often, it's as simple as filling out an application to become an instant "frequent guest" and lower paying patron.
- At independent and boutique hotels, ask if they have an introductory rate for people who have never stayed at the hotel before.
- If it's your anniversary, honeymoon, 40th birthday or other special event, let the hotel know. They may throw in extras at no charge. It never hurts to try!
- Is the hotel renovating? Great! You want a room with a discount and one that is sure to be quiet.
- If you are staying for several nights, be sure that you get the lowest rate for every night of your stay. Insist on it.
- Be sure to note confirmation numbers, agent names, and other specific information when booking your good rate. You just never know.
- When all else fails - hit the Internet. It's full of quirky specials. Sites like BestFares.com specialize in deals for airfare, hotels, and other travel arrangements, in fact, they are pros at it.