Q: We’re going on a short vacation, and I’m wondering if we can save on the hotel room. Is there anything we can do to make sure we get the best price possible?
A: There are lots of things you can do! Since hotels overcharge business travelers by as much as $500 million a year, you want to be careful. Hotels gain nothing when a room is empty overnight, so they really want your business, even if it’s at a discount. Once you know where you want to stay, ask for the best rate. And feel free to negotiate with the front desk once you arrive. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 70% of travelers who asked for a better deal got one.
Book your hotel room through a website, but not before comparing prices carefully. Call the hotel directly, and apply any discount plan you may have access to, and then compare rates. Also try a website like priceline.com, if you’re flexible.
You might want to reserve your room in advance, but go back to the website you booked it on (or call the hotel directly) a day or two before you arrive to see if you can get an even better rate. There should be no fee for cancellation.
Before checking out, review your bill carefully. While you probably want to avoid taking anything from the minibar in your room (known to charge as much as $16 for a small bottle of water!), watch for resort fees, room service fees, movie fees, phone calls and parking. You should be aware of what the hotel charges for all of these services before checking in, but on your way out, make sure you were only charged for services you actually received. Mistakes are common and can be costly.