You don’t have to be a VIP to get a great rate on your next hotel stay. Use these clever tips so you can rest easy knowing you got the best price.
1. Hunt for discount codes
Coupon websites such as RetailMeNot.com routinely list promo codes (aka discount codes) for popular travel booking websites such as Orbitz.com and Hotels.com. Recent offers included 10% off bookings made via a mobile app and $50 off a $300 reservation at ski destinations. Check often because these offers usually expire within a few days, and they definitely can sway your decision on when and where you end up booking your stay.
2. Join rewards programs
Hotel chains appreciate loyalty. By signing up for a chain’s rewards program, you’ll receive members-only email offers for discounted rates as well as promotions that provide perks such as free Wi-Fi and double reward points. You also may be eligible for travel benefits through your credit card.
3. Call the hotel front desk
Yes, it might seem old-fashioned to call an actual person, but the front-desk staff will know about vacancy rates and potential discounts during your stay, and they often can offer on-the-spot discounts or upgrades. This is most likely to happen if your stay includes a Sunday or Monday night, when hotels have the most vacancies.
4. Map it out
Hotels in the heart of downtown and adjacent to major attractions command high prices for their convenient location. By widening your search area, you can find that dividing line—be it a few blocks’ walk or a subway-stop down the line—where hotel rates start falling. Google Maps offers a “search nearby” feature that can pinpoint hotels around your main attraction. Enter your travel dates, and each nearby hotel’s nightly rate will pop up on the map, allowing you to quickly and easily size up the price range in the area.
5. Use travel sites wisely
You may already know that websites such as Hotels.com, Kayak.com and TripAdvisor.com consolidate listings for all available hotels for your dates. But many users don’t know that some of these sites allow you to filter your search results by neighborhood, amenities and more, so you can avoid paying a higher rate for features that aren’t important to you (a spa or concierge, for example). If you’re traveling overseas, broaden your search to include sites such as Vayama.com for overall international travel or Agoda.com for Asian travel. These sites offer a larger selection of lodgings, and more potential deals, abroad.
6. Take advantage of your NEA member benefits
NEA members qualify for exclusive savings on hotels when booked through NEA Travel. Plus, you can also save on your car rental and airfare. Those are special perks for NEA members that you shouldn’t let go to waste!
7. Consider alternative lodging
Airbnb.com has been giving the hotel industry some stiff competition. The website—which enables homeowners to rent out their properties—boasts 2 million listings that span 190+ countries and range from shared bedrooms to entire castles. If you’re traveling with a group to a destination with a lot of condos and vacation homes—such as a ski town, theme park or wine country—then check out HomeAway.com and VRBO.com for lodging options that might best fit the bill and your budget.