Owning a hotel means that every moment a room in your hotel remains empty, you are losing money. For us, as the ones purchasing the room, the longer rooms stay unbooked, the more the hotel may be forced to up their prices to earn that money back in the future.
None of this is helped by the fact that booking a hotel these days is rigged by the search engines we use. The top hotels are always at the top, and they never seem to be the cheaper ones, either.
For us, it’s all rigged. The closer we wish to be to something, the more the prices are; the further we book things away, we watch as the prices come down the week before.
So what can we do to swing the situation in our favour?
There’s the option of waiting, if you can handle it. Waiting till the last minute, generally, the last twenty-four hours means you’ll be in a chance of winning a discounted hotel room from the hotel directly.
This is because the hotel will want to make some money off the room, rather than it sitting empty. You may find even waiting until the week of your stay, you’ll receive a discount, but this is less likely than if you waited until the last day.
Doing this may also earn you an upgrade compared to if you had booked at the time. However, it is possible to find yourself without somewhere to stay by waiting.
This is also applicable to staying local, but if you have flexible dates on hand, this can get you in the chance of saving some money. This is because many hotels have peak seasons, peak days and even peak weeks within the year they know they’ll fill their hotel.
Usually, these are around children’s holidays or weekends, as most people hope to achieve as long as they can off without losing too much of their annual leave. However, if this isn’t an issue for you, opting for a day either side of your original date can save you quite a bit of money. These are usually slower days for hotels, which means they are more likely to allow a discount. See ‘Making An Offer’ in this post for tips on how to achieve this.
You can apply this method to booking flights also, as well as hotel rooms.
Using third-party websites to book out empty hotel rooms means you’ll get a lower price than the one on the original website. This, like before, is because hotel owners wish to make something of the room, even if they can’t make what they originally asked for.
They don’t want to show these discounted rooms on their own business out of fear of annoying already booked customers or regulars, but they will offer them on third-party websites such as Lastminute.com and others.
A useful tip, however, is to open another tab on your internet browser. When you find a hotel on a third-party website that you’re interested in, quickly search for that hotel's official website and check the price. You don’t want to be assuming you’re receiving a discount through the third-party website, when in fact it may be the price the hotel is already offering it at.
Similar to before, leaving till the last minute will also work in your favour with third-party sites. If that isn’t possible for you or the trip, there are also websites such as Priceline and Hotwire.
These websites also offer a secret-hotel offer, where you can have up to 60% of the price of a hotel room, but you won’t know where you are staying until you’ve paid. You can put in a location, and filter by star-rating, but until you make the non-refundable deposit, the name will be a secret.
However, be mindful with using third-party websites of the hidden charges, like tax and additional charges as these aren’t always mentioned. You can always ring up the hotel with your reference number if you want further information on this.
If all of this sets your organised brain wild, do not fear; there are still other options out there on the market.
There wouldn't be much point talking about empty hotel rooms without talking about ourselves! Hoo will offer a chance to bid on a hotel room and see if it’s your lucky day. But that isn’t all; you can bid on either a room or an upgrade. This even applies to bidding on an upgrade on a room at the hotel you’ve already booked.
All you need to do is:
Sometimes, a phone call can be the best way to make an offer at a hotel, if third-party websites aren’t saving you much.
In this situation, however, it’s best to ring the hotel directly, not the number used by the chain (if the hotel is part of a chain). This is because the hotel itself will be the only one able to provide a discount, not the saleswoman in the call centre.
Wait until the price has been agreed before mentioning any special requests. These can be things like a room with a view or breakfast. This is because they may hike up the prices to secure your desires, whereas you can phrase the question like, “This comes with breakfast, right?”, making it harder for them to decline on the other end of the phone. If they inform you it will cost more, then you’ll need to judge whether it’s worthy of that.
How are you going to find your next hotel bargain?