The secret to grabbing a great hotel accommodation at a price far less than the company’s “rack rate” is to understand these simple truths: Hotels are bound to have nights when they have empty rooms. Empty rooms do not generate cash flow. Someone in that establishment is directly responsible to see that as many rooms as possible are generating some amount of income, every night.
Here are the steps to follow to help that hotel meet its goals and get a great bargain at the same time.
• Nail down the exact hotel and specific location where you wish to book a room. Going online is the easiest way to figure out your choices. Find that specific location’s local telephone number.
• Know the going rate of rooms at this specific location. You can find this online at the hotel’s site. Then visit BiddingForTravel.com.
This is a site where Priceline and Hotwire bidders disclose their winning bids, along with the name of the hotel they landed. The information that others have posted here will give you a good sense about the rate you may be able to negotiate. Notice the wide range or rates others have paid. This should give you confidence that the hotel will let rooms go for bargain rates to keep the place full.
The best time to snag a great deal on a hotel room is at 4 p.m., local time on Sunday. This is when you will have the best shot at speaking with the employee whose job depends on keeping rooms filled, who can also negotiate room rates. But this can be tricky, so here are the steps to follow:
• Call the local phone number. Do not call the hotel’s 800 number. That will connect you to a big clearinghouse that books rooms for hundreds of locations. The people who answer those phones do not have the authority to give you a better deal. Instead, call the specific hotel’s local direct line. Go online or call directory assistance to get the local phone number for the specific location where you’d like to stay.
• Do not ask for the reservations department, which will only get you routed back through to the 800 number clearinghouse you are trying to avoid. Instead, ask to speak to the manager on duty, who at this time of day on the weekend will probably be a lower-level employee. This is the person on duty who has the authority to negotiate rates and book rooms.
This is better for you than calling during the week when you will be connected to a “revenue manager” who is more interested in keeping the rates high.
• Be very courteous. Say that you are shopping for accommodations during a specific week at a great rate, followed by, “What can you do for me?” See yourself as a valuable commodity at this moment because you will take an unsold room out of inventory, which represents job security for the person you’re speaking with. That’s it. You’ve cut out all of the middlemen and just given yourself the very best shot at bagging a bargain hotel reservation. Use this opportunity well and to your fullest advantage. You’re doing the hotel and yourself a great service.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.