When it comes to saving big bucks on hotel rooms, timing really is everything.
Knowing when to book a room or ask for an upgrade or call the concierge can save you a lot of money.
Hotel employees have shared these five (or so) great tips:
1. Think end. The end of the quarter and the end of the year are two great times to book a hotel room. Hotel sales staffers have quotas, just as car salesmen do, and they usually are quarterly quotas. So if you know you’re taking a trip to a particular city sometime in the future, call a hotel you’d like to stay in at the end of March, June, September or December. Sales staffs become more eager to book rooms when the clock is ticking at the end of a quarter and bonuses are on the line. If you book a room then, regardless of when you actually stay at the hotel, it will count as a sale for the quarter when it is booked.
2. Be flexible. If you want to go somewhere and you can be flexible about when you go, call hotels in that city and ask when they will offer discounted rates. Hotels know months in advance when they are likely to be busy and when they are likely to have plenty of vacancies. At the less busy times they’ll offer the best rates.
3. Know when to ask for a free upgrade. Sunday or Monday is the best day of the week to get a free hotel upgrade because hotels have the most vacancies then. And the nighttime is the best time of day because by then, hotels have a better idea what they can offer guests. Two tips within a tip: Be nice and be specific. The “lowly desk clerk” often has a lot of say over whether you’ll get an upgrade, but it won’t happen if you’re a jerk. Also, ask for what you want – a suite, a room with a view, a free breakfast. Ask – nicely.
4. Kiss up to the concierge. The best time to call on the concierge is after 6 p.m. Before then, he or she is very busy helping hotel guests get tickets to plays or make restaurant reservations. The rush ends at about 6 p.m. After that, the concierge will have more time to make a dinner reservation for you or hook you up with discount vouchers for museums and other attractions for the next day. Some even have vouchers for local department stores that can save you a mint. Speaking of timing, call your hotel the night before you arrive, ask for the concierge and tell him or her how excited you are to stay there. Ask for a restaurant suggestion just to build some rapport, and be sure to mention if your visit coincides with a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. If you do, you may walk into your room and find a complimentary bottle of wine or a vase of fresh flowers.
5. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If you need to book a room at the last minute, try a site, such as Hotwire or Priceline. Hotel managers often dump rooms on these sites when they have lots of vacancies, and you can get a room for as much as 80 percent off the advertised rate.
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to call. If you’re trying to book a room on a travel website and you’re not seeing a good rate, call the hotel. If the hotel can get you to book directly with it, it won’t have to pay Orbitz or some other site a booking fee, and it often will beat the lowest price you’ve seen online.