June 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM ET
Want to get a great deal on a hotel room? Condé Nast Traveler Senior Editor Lisa Gill shares these tips:
Get the best room for your dollar
At luxury properties, rates vary substantially according to occupancy. A room could be $550 one week because there's a big group, and $250 the next because they have significantly more availability. For top-end hotels that have on-site reservations desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and thus have the lowest rates. If you need to get into a sold-out hotel, find out when cancellation penalties kick in for the date you want to arrive, then call the property on the morning of that day. You can scoop up rooms made available by people who've just canceled.
Get on the phone
Do not rely on the Internet alone when searching for discounted hotel rates. Call hotels directly and ask if there are any last-minute deals available on a room. The rate listed on a hotel's website is not always the lowest rate that the hotel will offer. If a hotel has a large amount of rooms open for a night and it's less than 48 hours before that date, a manager at the hotel may be willing to reduce the rates further than what the website advertises. Do not be afraid to ask for a lower rate. The worst the manager can do is say no.
Stay at a business hotel
If staying in an urban area over a weekend, consider staying at a hotel that caters to business travelers. They are busiest during the week, and have an abundance of rooms to fill over the weekend, usually dropping their rates in order to fill the rooms.
Use your credit card to get free rooms
Don't overlook hotel credit cards: The free nights, upgrades, and other benefits they offer might, in the end, save you more money than an airline card. Hotels have a lot more inventory to give away than airlines do, which means your points stretch farther and you'll have an easier time redeeming them. Additionally, some hotel cards include significant money-saving perks: free nights, discounted rates, etc. Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, etc. all have credit cards. For more info on picking the right credit card, see "Play Your Cards Right." And follow our loyalty-program expert Gary Leff as he explains the best credit cards for spending, the ones that come with benefits, and the ones with the best sign-up bonuses.
Sign up for e-mail notifications from your favorite hotels
The best hotel sales are largely unannounced. Hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers — loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, people who've registered on their websites — and alert them by e-mail. Also, follow hotel chains that you frequent on Twitter — sometimes hotel chains will announce deals via social media. Wendy Perrin shares more tips in her Wendy Perrin's Golden Rules of Travel and Cool Tools to Save you Time and Money.
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