Travel

How to Get the Best Deal on a Hotel

These four strategies can help you score a low price.

If you’re planning a vacation, make sure you don’t spend more than you have to on a hotel. There are several ways to score a deal on a room. Bob Diener, co-founder of Getaroom.com and former president of Hotels.com, says that these four strategies will help you get the best rate.

Advance booking. It used to be the case that you could score a deal on a hotel room by waiting until the last minute to book a stay. But Diener says that now you have to reserve a room at least 14 to 21 days in advance of a stay to get the best rate. Several hotel chains are offering special rates for advance booking, especially in California and Florida, and Hilton has been the most aggressive with its deals, Diener says.

Longer stays. The average length of a hotel stay is 2.1 nights, Diener says, adding that most hotels tend to be empty on Sunday nights. So many hotels offer a better rate if you stay three nights or more -- typically 10% to 20% off your entire stay. In some cases, staying three nights can actually be cheaper than staying two thanks to discounts. Diener recommends booking a third night in those instances even if you plan on staying just two nights.

Flash sales. Some travel sites such as Expedia offer deep discounts of 50% or more on select hotels, but the rooms must be booked during a brief window of opportunity (24 hours for Expedia; up to several days on other sites). This can be a great way to get a deal on accommodations if your plans are flexible. You can also use EveryLodge.com to search for deals on seven private flash sale sites, which offer discounts on upscale accommodations to members only (membership typically is free).

Unpublished rates. Getaroom.com may offer discounts of 10% to 20% on top of its lowest published rates online by not publishing the low rates. To get these rates, you have to call 1-800-468-3578. Diener says that more than 25,000 hotels participate in Getaroom.com’s unpublished-rates program.

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