What’s the secret to getting a cheap, last-minute room at hotels? It’s knowing that these companies really want to have booked rooms versus empty ones — and will do almost anything to fill them up. By using a combination of apps, alerts, and some old-fashioned negotiation tactics, you can score some great hotel deals for a fraction of the regular price.
If you’re not the aggressive type and haggling isn’t really your thing, head over to Priceline to let hotels fight over you. Set your parameters for the type of place you want to stay in — whether it’s a luxury property, all-inclusive resort, or basic economy property — set your price, sit back, and wait for the offers to come in.
However, even though you want a discounted room, don’t go too cheap. Hotels looking to fill rooms last minute will jump on the best offer they see, so if you’re low-balling them too much they’ll go with a higher bidder. Priceline gives you guidelines as to how your bid compares to others, so you know what is a reasonable bid.
Call the Hotel or Pick a “Bad” Location
A very effective way to get cheap, last minute rooms is to call the hotel itself. This works particularly well if your travel dates are off-season. For example, going to someplace tropical such as the Caribbean during the summer will be much cheaper than going in December. The opposite is true for colder places.
Also, try hotels that aren’t directly in the city center for better deals. These less desirable locations are always cheaper, but if there’s good public transportation available or you have a rental car, you can still hit all the touristy places you want (and probably have some extra cash left over).
Get Notifications & Be Flexible
Not dead-set on a specific check-in date? Even better! Hotels are usually busier on the weekends than on weekdays, so visiting during less busy days means a cheaper room. Instead of going Friday through Sunday, try visiting Wednesday through Friday instead. This also allows you to get into many attractions with less wait and experience the city like a local.
Also, websites such as HotelTonight let you search for very last minute offers. Also, sites like Kayak will send you alerts for hotels at your destination. Select a few check-in dates and monitor which ones get cheaper as you get closer to your arrival date. Kayak also offers a prediction feature that works for hotels or airplane flights; it tells you if you should wait on making a purchase or take advantage of the price right now.
Use Coupon Codes or Club Memberships
Browser apps like Savetastic recognize what website you’re on and offer discount coupon codes that can make an already great deal even better. Other sites such as Hotels.com or Expedia let you join a frequent-users club and reward you with free nights or secret discounts. Imagine getting a user-only price for a five star hotel room and then adding a coupon on top of that for an even steeper discount.
Take Advantage of the “Free Cancellation” Feature
As you’re scrolling through travel websites, look for hotels with the “free cancellation” feature. You can book the room ahead of time and then using the alerts, monitor other hotel prices. If something better pops up, you can cancel your original reservation and book the better deal. Sometimes, this can happen with the hotel where you’ve already made a reservation. Simply cancel and rebook at the new, lower price.
Finding great last minute deals doesn’t have to be a long arduous process; a little tech savviness can go a long way.