In the age of search engines and travel competition, hotels want to be competitive in pricing, just like airlines do. This is especially true in comparison to third-party travel agencies like Expedia or Travelocity. So when researching rates, be sure to look for the bonuses or special offers like free breakfast, or free airport transfers, as many third party sites will throw in these options, and the hotels themselves will try to match. By learning how to find hotel deals and special rates, you can save yourself money traveling.
Also, many times hotels, especially the larger chains, will offer certain special rates can equate to huge savings. Rates for AAA members are widespread, including additional perks like free parking, free breakfast, and meal credits. In fact, AAA has a travel planning and discount departments, as does big box store Costco. Check multiple options, as these membership companies may offer some great savings and inclusions that may not typically come with the room but can save big bucks.
Another common rate is an advance purchase rate or get every 4th or 5th night free, that both larger chains and boutique hotels offer. This can allow you to extend your vacation for nothing or next to nothing, offering a better value. Other possibilities for discounts include special veterans rates or senior citizen rates (and even rates for in-state residents) that can save you hundreds over the course of a vacation. For example, periodically Starwood Hotels (Westin, Sheraton, Luxury Collection, W, etc.) periodically run a promotion meant to discount the rate for older guests called the “birth year rate.” The first night will be a set rate but then the subsequent nights will be according to your birth year. For example, if you were born in 1985, then your second night would cost $85; however, if you were born in 1946, then your second night would only cost $46.
Always be sure to check both hotel chains directly along with third-party sites. If you are seeing a rate on the hotel website that is higher than on, say, Expedia, many hotel chains have a best rate guarantee. Starwood Hotels offer those booking through its website, a guarantee that if guests find a lower rate prior to or within 24 hours of booking a room, they can submit a Best Rate Guarantee Claim, and Starwood will honor the lower rate. Additionally, Starwood will also give guests either a 20% discount or 2,000 Starpoints on top of the lower rate for an added incentive to book directly with the hotel. Marriott and Intercontinental Group Hotels offer similar guarantees.
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