by Rachel Kelly Davis
These days, social media has us believing that just about everyone is living a life of luxury and travel. While we know that, of course, isn’t always true, it does make us wonder how we can afford to get out more and join the jet-set.
The good news is you don’t have to break the bank every time you travel. Nor do you have to be a professional traveler, blogger, or celebrity to get better rates, hotel freebies, or upgrades. All you need is a little savvy, and some inside tips from those in the hotel industry. It may take a while to get used to these ‘hotel booking habits’ but trust us, you’ll probably come out of it on top (the penthouse, that is.)
1.) What’s in Your Wallet?
Have a look at your credit cards. Do you still remember all the deals and perks that came with each one? Have any of those changed? Why not give your credit card company a call and ask them if they are currently partnered with any hotel? Some hotels give discounted rates for certain credit card holders. Use that to your advantage!
Likewise, check out your other memberships as well. Some car companies and insurance companies, like Hertz or AAA, have partner hotels and members can receive the discounted rate by simply showing their card at check-in or mentioning the membership when booking directly with the hotel.
2.) Look at Loyalty Programs
Along the same lines—and while you’re on the phone with your credit card company—ask the agent you’re speaking with if your credit card points can be transferred to hotel loyalty programs. Yes, this can be done, and yes, it can score you discounts. Best case scenario? You get a free room!
3.) Start a Relationship with the General Manager
If you’re looking to travel quite often, why not start a relationship with the general manager of a chain hotel in your city? A little loyalty and a little kindness can go a long way in an industry where those who serve are seldom praised for the hard work they do behind the scenes. Your friend, the GM, can give you discounts each time you staycation with them, and even endorse special treatment and other discounts when you travel and stay at the same hotel in a different country.
4.) Opt to Stay
One of the biggest factors for choosing a hotel is price. It all has to fit into the travel budget, right? And if you’re staying for several days, hotel nights do add up. Most hotels offer long-staying guests a special rate. If you are staying longer than two or three nights, call the hotel reservations office and ask if they can give your last night for free or discounted rates for your entire stay. You might be surprised as to how many hotels actually do this, and it’s the kind of deal you are unlikely to find on travel websites like Booking.com and Agoda.
5.) Plan Ahead and Ask for the Promos
They say the early bird gets the worm, and the same is true for those who book early. You usually get cheaper flights and cheaper rooms if you book ahead of time. That’s because hotels want to make sure they fill their rooms in advance, and not have to worry about occupancy on the month itself.
If you aren’t planning to travel immediately, call the hotels in the city you intend to visit and ask them about what promos they have in upcoming months. You may be able to avail of a deal they haven’t made public yet, or you can get the selling periods for some of their deals and book before anyone else!
6.) Tell them it’s a Special Occasion
When booking directly with a hotel, be sure to mention that your stay coincides with a special occasion or that you are staying with them as part of a celebration, anniversary, birthday, graduation, job promotion etc. Upon check-in, do not be surprised if they give you a free room upgrade, bottle of champagne, or complimentary massage!
7.) Who are they partnered with?
Many hotels partner up with local tour groups and vice versa. Have a look at what deals your hotel offers for different tour groups or what deals tour companies offer if you stay with a partner hotel. Now do the math. A cheaper hotel room may not be worth it in the end if you are still paying top price for what you really want to see or do in the city you’re visiting.
8.) Check for other promos and freebies in hotel restaurants and spas.
Many of us choose not to eat at hotel restaurants because they are known to be pricey. Don’t always write them off, however, because you never know when you may be missing out on a good deal. Much like #5 and #7, call your hotel and see what promotions their restaurant—and even their spa—might have during the time of your visit!