3 Ways to Get Hotel Deals
Sure, you can get low hotel rates by shopping around on several websites. But if you're the type of traveler who's willing to spend a bit more time for greater savings, there are other ways to get better deals. These three hotel booking methods take some time and effort, but you'll gain access to exclusive hotel rates. (See also: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)
As the name suggests, a flash sale has a time limit, so you'll have to make up your mind quickly. Depending on the deal, the flash sale may only last for a couple of hours, although some flash sale deals remain available for a few days.
You can find flash sale hotel deals on several dedicated travel private sale websites.
Jetsetter, for example, offers discounts of up to 40% off regular prices of hotels and tours. You can find a wide variety of properties here, from lofts in big cities to secluded villas. You have to become a member to access these deals, but membership is free.
Another popular travel flash sale website is Vacationist, which partners with Travel + Leisure to give you a detailed review of each hotel. Vacationist claims to offer savings of up to 60% off hotel stays. Again, you have to get a free membership to book these deals. (See also: How to Book an Amazing Cheap Travel Package)
Other Travel Flash Sites
Before you book, pay attention to the fine print because there may be restrictions and surcharges that apply to flash sale reservations. For example, there may be black-out dates or extra fees for weekend stays. You may also have to pay higher penalties if you need to modify or cancel your hotel stay later.
Deals on "Secret" Hotels
A secret hotel deal is one where you're not told the name of the hotel until you've booked and made a payment. The hotels don't want to publicize these deals because these low rates could dilute their brands and make their other guests unhappy.
Even though the booking website won't show you the hotel name, you're given its star rating, approximate location, and details about its amenities. From this information, you can often guess which hotel it is.
Secret Hotel Sites
To book a hotel, you start by entering your destination and travel dates. The search results will show you a few hotel options, which may include both secret hotel deals and regular hotel listings. You can simply book one secret hotel room based on the limited information provided, or you can probably find out the hotel name if you have some time to spare.
How to Identify a Secret Hotel
Begin by reading the hotel listing very carefully, looking for any distinctive feature that differentiates it from other hotels — a hot tub on the balcony, for example, or a fireplace inside the suite. It's okay if there's no such feature, but it will help you pinpoint which hotel it is more easily if there is.
Then, copy a snippet of the hotel description and paste it into a search engine. If you're lucky, the search result should show you which hotel it is. Otherwise, sift through other hotel listings on the booking website that have the same star rating and location until you come across one with the same features as the secret hotel.
With price bidding, you can potentially get really big savings, but you need to know how to use the system.
Before you read any further, you should know that hotel bidding is probably not for you if you have very specific preferences. There are limited options and you get minimal information about the room. You won't be told the name of the hotel, and you won't be able to choose your bedding configuration. You also won't be able to request a non-smoking room, a room with a certain view, or multiple connecting rooms.
Where and How to Bid on a Room
Hotel price bidding is available on Priceline, where it's called the "Name Your Own Price" feature.
To start the bidding process, you specify the dates of your stay, the lowest hotel star rating you'd take, the area where you want to stay, and the price you're willing to pay. The website will find hotels that match your criteria. If there is a hotel that accepts your rate, you have a booking. Otherwise, you have to wait for 24 hours before submitting another bid.
There are a few tricks you can use to make more than one bid per day. You can easily double the number of times you can bid by working with your partner or a friend. You can also bid the same price by adding more possible hotel areas if you're flexible about the neighborhood. If you have a strict budget, Priceline will let you bid the same price again if you drop your minimum star rating.
Have you scored major deals on hotel rooms? How'd you do it? Please share in comments!