PRACTICE – Accommodation is often the most expensive part of a trip. Six tips and tricks to avoid bankruptcy by reserving a hotel night.
With your plane ticket in your pocket, you can already imagine yourself strolling through the streets of New York and strolling through Central Park. Unless you prefer the beaches of Cuba… Except that before that, you still have to book your hotel room – which risks skyrocketing the final score of the trip. Here are six tips to limit breakage.
Book at the right time
There are two schools. Those who will book their hotel room well in advance and those who will bet on a last minute reservation. Who is right, who is wrong ? In fact, just about everyone. In principle, until the day of your arrival, as long as the hotel is not full, its prices increase. To avoid paying full price for your night, it is better to plan ahead. Except that on D-Day, if the establishment is not full, hoteliers will prefer to sell off their rooms rather than see them unoccupied. Booking at the last minute can then be a very good plan. The risk may be worth it, even if it means having to find other accommodation at the very last minute.
Travel out of season
It is well known, to save money, you have to leave outside the busiest tourist periods. And for good reason, during these periods, the demand is high, and the filling of the rooms is assured. Hoteliers are therefore taking advantage of this to increase their prices. When, conversely, hotel prices can sometimes drop by up to -50% in low season, because supply exceeds demand. It’s basic.
Another tip to note before booking your accommodation, it is better to bet on a trip during the week, particularly avoiding Saturday, the most expensive day. Except in cities generating a high rate of business travel traffic: in New York, the price of the hotel is always a little cheaper on weekends than Monday to Friday!
Book directly with the hotel
Third tip to save money, book directly with the hotelier. And for good reason, to avoid paying commissions to platforms like Expedia or Booking.com or those of a hotel comparator like Trivago or Kayak, many establishments offer the lowest rate, directly on their website.
And if the price displayed is often comparable, since contractual clauses oblige the hotelier to maintain price parity on the various booking sites, the value offered is often higher when booking directly. The hotelier can transfer benefits to the customer which would otherwise be a commission paid to an intermediary. The customer who books directly is always a winner: personalized service when booking, choice of the desired room, first-hand information on current promotions, possible freebies such as breakfast or parking included.
In addition, it is only through this that you can potentially enjoy additional gifts such as personalized service when booking, choice of room, a free night (Choice Hotels) or a gift card for a future trip (Best Western). And in this game, independent hotels are much more flexible.
Choose accommodation a little out of the way
When you don’t know a city, you tend to choose your hotel in the center. Example with Westminster in London, the Champs-Élysées or Montmartre in Paris… And yet, moving away slightly from the heart of a capital would allow you to drastically lower the bill. All while still staying in town. Before booking, study the area where you are going and find a neighborhood a little out of the way, close to amenities and well served by public transport. In Paris, for example, you might be surprised to spend a cheap night in a nice hotel in the 10th arrondissement.
Pay attention to comments and photos
Contrary to what one might think, there is no international hotel rating system. Thus, a 5-star in France will not have the same quality of service as a 5-star in Indonesia or Spain. To make sure you don’t take the wrong road and don’t get ripped off on the quality of your future suite for less than 200 euros per night facing the sea with terrace and jacuzzi, before booking, it is better to rely on the notes and photos left by customers who have stopped before you. A piece of advice, keep only the average of the comments by removing the most rave reviews and the most negative ones.
Take advantage of loyalty programs
Finally, if you travel regularly, one of the best ways to save money and/or take advantage of discounts and other benefits is to stay with the same hotel chain. Most offer loyalty programs, as is also the case for airlines and some booking platforms. Thus at Accor, from the first reservation, members of the ALL loyalty program benefit from a reduction in more than 3,000 hotels across 34 brands. All that’s left is to find a plane ticket that’s not too expensive…
This article originally published on September 3, 2021 has been updated.