• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Booking ahead, saving more …

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Hotels always seem to account for the largest portion of travel funds. Even when you are not booking a four or five-star property, a few days stay in a hotel can easily empty your pocket if you are not financially disciplined or planned well ahead of your trip.

Of course, most  travellers like nice hotels, but when you are on a budget, especially now that the naira is falling freely, it is best to make sure you have enough after airfare and lodging to actually enjoy your trip; have good meals, go sightseeing, and buy some souvenirs for your loved ones.

However, there a few tricks and tips on how to book cheaper hotel rates. 

Use search engines

The popularity of hotel metasearch engines is on the rise and for good reason: It is one of the most efficient ways to find affordable accommodations. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, a hotel metasearch engine is a website that searches multiple hotel booking sites at once. For example, instead of running a search on Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and the hotel’s website, you can use a metasearch engine to search multiple sites at once to see which provider offers the lowest rates and best value. Kayak, Hipmunk, Room 77, TripAdvisor, and Trivago are just a few of the options available.

Call the hotel directly

If you have a particular hotel in mind, calling the hotel directly can often result in better rates. Since you are able to speak with someone in real time, the staff will often be privy to rates that are not advertised online or, at the very least, they will be able to give you insight as to what is affecting hotel room pricing. Events like conferences, concerts, and conventions can cause hotel room prices to skyrocket, and of course, certain times of year, such as the holidays, will see more expensive rates. If you are traveling and found out there is an event causing hotel rooms in the city center to be more expensive, then you need to research hotels away from the city center to find lower rates.

Book cancelable rates

Room rates can fluctuate as quickly as minute to minute because a hotel’s inventory is always changing. It is simple supply and demand: the more people booking rooms at a hotel, the more the hotel can charge. One thing you can do if you are not flexible with your hotel choice is to book a cancelable rate. It should be fairly obvious which rates are actually cancelable; there is usually a call-out that states something like “FREE cancellation – PAY LATER,” as seen on Booking.com. You better book this rate (but cross check and be sure that it is actually cancelable) and then monitor the price, as well as prices of nearby, comparable hotels. It may take a little bit of extra legwork, but this tactic can save you as much as $US100 per night.

Book last minute

This is a trick best reserved for shorter trips, like romantic weekend getaways or impromptu get-togethers with friends in the city. But it is not good to wait till the last minute to book a hotel room for that expensive international trip you have been saving up for or leaving your lodging needs up to fate when there could be a major conference happening that results in a hotel room shortage. However, if you do a bit of research and are flexible, booking last minute can result in much cheaper rates. Last-minute booking apps like HotelTonight, which works with hotels to negotiate deep discounts on unsold rooms, are a great starting point, and many of the online booking sites, like Expedia and Priceline, have their own “Tonight” or “Deals Tonight” section.