Well it doesn’t really pay to procrastinate but when it comes to booking a hotel room, procrastinating can save you some money. In my mind, that’s kind of the same thing. I am a very detailed travel planner but have found that I have gotten some of the best deals on hotel rooms by waiting until the last-minute to make my reservations.
Recently, our friends and their children and my husband and I went on a weekend getaway to Houston, Texas. My friend booked her room weeks in advance. She reserved a room at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston for $78 a night + $30 daily parking (Total $108 + taxes & incidental fees). For weeks, she kept asking me when I was going to book my hotel. I told her probably during the drive down to Houston. She thought I was crazy. I told her that I do it all the time and that I was sure that I would get a good deal on my room. And I did. I used the Priceline Negotiator to get a 4 1/2 star hotel, the Hilton Americas Houston, for $70 a night + $20 daily parking (Total $90 + taxes +incidentals). I booked our stay on Thursday and we arrived Friday evening. When I told her about my deal she was shocked. Secretly, I know she was hating :P
Since then, a few of my friends have asked me to reveal some of my tips for saving money on hotel rooms. Here are some helpful hints to help you snag a lower price tag for your next getaway.
- Book on Thursdays. Hotels usually know how many unsold rooms they have for the weekend by Thursday. This makes them more apt to offer weekend specials to attract guests.
- Stay at a hotel chain that caters to business travelers. Business travelers usually stay in hotels near convention centers, business centers, etc from Mon-Fri. In my experience, hotels that cater to this clientele or host conferences are more likely to offer cheaper hotel rates on the weekends. My theory is that the majority of their guests will check out by Friday morning leaving them with a host of empty rooms to be filled.
- Bid on a room. Sites like Priceline.com offer awesome last-minute deals on hotel rooms. If you are a bit of a risk taker, bid on a room. Warning: this tip may not work well for the control freak. You have to be completely willing to relinquish control to the website host. There are a few downfalls to this though. You get to bid on a room based on the star system, but you don’t find out what hotel you are staying at until your bid is accepted. If you don’t like the hotel reviews, you are pretty much out of luck because the money you paid for the room is non-refundable. You may not get the type of room you requested. If you are single or a couple, it may not be a big deal to get 2 queens vs a king. But if you have a family or are rooming with someone for business travel, it may be difficult or a little awkward to have to share a king sized bed.
- Make reservations in the middle of the day. I have found some great mid day deals on same day hotel reservations. For example, we were having bad weather on yesterday so we decided we would get a hotel in the city instead of driving in the rain at 3am to catch our 6am flight. When I checked the hotel’s website at 8am the price of the room was $109 for the night. I checked on Priceline at 11am and the room was $87. When I finally booked the room at 1230, the price had dropped to $79 for the night.
- Take a risk on hotel stays that aren’t as important as others. If you are nervous about trying these tips, test them out on a weekend or overnight stay. I haven’t used this strategy for a week-long vacation yet but I plan to very soon.
What do you do to save money on hotel accommodations? Have you tried any of these tips when booking a getaway? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!