In my previous career, I worked in the hotel industry.  Most hotel chains have an employee rate program starting at $39 – $69 per night to stay at their sister hotels.  Since I’ve left the industry I have had a difficult time transitioning myself to paying the standard rate.  It can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are my top 5 tips on how to save money on hotel rooms:

How To Save Money On Hotel Rooms

1. Ask your friends & family – Just as hotels have preferred rates for their employees, they also have “friends and family” rates that are typically only $20 – $30 more than the employee rate.  Most hotel employees are used to being asked for this favour, so if someone you know works in the industry, why not ask them yourself?

2. Use your corporate/government/association affiliation – The next best rate to try would be a preferred corporate rate or government rate.  Or if you belong to an association like a professional sales association or an engineering association, ask the hotel for your preferred discount.  Also, if you are a CAA/AAA member, you will likely save 10%.

3. Know your market – Most resort locations and sports destinations will be busy on the weekends, but they start to empty out on Sunday/Monday.  Plan your trip away from the peak times and into the weekdays to save 15% – 40% off your rate.  Conversely, most corporate locations and meeting hot spots are busier mid week (Tues-Thu), especially downtown hotels.  You can book at some beautiful downtown locations on the weekend for 50% off their regular rate.

4. Book in advance – The trend in most hotel chains is to offer an advanced booking discount on their website.  If you book more than 14 days in advance, you may be entitled to a 15% – 20% discount.  Book a week in advance and receive 10% – 15% off your rate.  Please note that hotels build in “fences” where the deeper the discount offered the more conditions apply to your booking.  For example, the 14 day advanced purchase rate will likely have a “no-cancellation” clause, and will capture your funds immediately upon booking, rather than at checkout.

5. 3rd party websites – Take a look at Expedia.ca or Travelocity.ca to get an idea of the rates being offered in the location you are looking for.  All hotels need to offer “rate parity” to these 3rd party websites, meaning that the lowest rate offered on the hotel website will also have to be offered on Expedia and Travelocity.

Now here’s the trick; hotels pay 22% booking fees for every reservation made through these 3rd party websites (similar to travel agent commissions).  Check the lowest rate on Expedia and then call the hotel directly and ask for a discount.  Savvy hotel operators will know that they will net more profit by offering you a $10 or $15 discount over the phone than they will by allowing you to book on Expedia.

Related: Forget The Resort! Why You Should Travel For The Experience

Ex. You book a $100 rate on Expedia – the hotel nets $78.  If you book an $85 rate with the hotel directly – everyone wins!

There are many other ways to save money on hotel rooms, including using Hotwire.com & Priceline.com, and belonging to a hotel rewards program, like Delta Privilege.  Maybe I’ll save those for a future post…

So there you have it, 5 tips to get the best value out of your next hotel stay.  What are some of the ways you save money on hotel rooms?


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