WRITTEN BY: VANESSA WACHTMEISTER
For the last eight years, I’ve been travel blogging and working in travel tech. I’m going to be sharing my top tips to book a luxury hotel at a bargain price — and you won’t need to cut coupons for months in order to do it. Being smarter with your budget will help you travel further and farther for less, and I’m so happy to help!
1. Start with cashback and coupon websites
When looking for the best deals, I always start with my favorite cashback and coupon websites to see if there are any generous discounts available. A few of my favorite websites include TopCashback, Rakuten, Groupon and, of course, Savings.com!
These sites are affiliate marketing websites and offer sales and increased site traffic to other vendors in exchange for a commission on purchases made through their pages (at no extra cost to the consumer).
Major travel companies like Expedia, Hilton and Orbitz often run seasonal sales with their affiliate marketing partners; that’s how I can regularly snap up good deals. These promotional sales and cashback offers can range from 1% to 12% or more, so it’s well worth starting your search on these platforms.
Here’s my favorite hack: Use your cashback money to purchase a discounted gift card to your favorite travel website. This way, you can lower the cost of your hotel even more after applying the gift card to an already discounted offer.
2. Always ask for price matches
It’s always worth calling or emailing the hotel directly to see if they can give you a better price than what’s being advertised online. When you’re searching for hotels on OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), the price is likely the sum of two things: the cost of the hotel and the commission that the travel agency earns.
However, that’s not to say you’re not receiving a good deal — large agencies can often negotiate incredible prices that are unavailable anywhere else because of their marketing influence and brand recognition. Hotels are much better off paying agencies a small marketing commission than trying to market 100% on their own in such a competitive industry.
Because of this, hotels are often open to giving you a better deal if you contact them directly since it can help them avoid paying an additional commission to the travel agency.
3. Book your accommodation 48 hours before departure
If you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants, take advantage of last-minute travel deals from online travel agencies. Lastminute.com and Hoteltonight.com exclusively cater to last-minute bargain hunters and you can score a serious discount if you’re willing to wait it out. This is because hotels would rather have someone in the room (even at a discount) rather than lose money on an empty room.
4. Book a package deal
For example, the United Kingdom has a program known as ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing), which grants financial protection to consumers who’ve purchased package holidays from participating tour operators. The types of package holidays entitled to protection or insurance vary from country to country, so make sure to do your research.
5. Look for member-only deals
Whether you’re a long-time Costco cardholder or you simply have a standard Expedia account, companies incentivize customers to join and stay active with exclusive deals they don’t offer to the public. These sales are known as ‘member-only deals’ and are often hidden behind a login wall, which requires interested parties to log in or sign up on a private portal in order to take advantage of the limited-time offers. Hotels are constantly offering deals and competing for brand loyalty, making this an easy way to snag incredible deals on your stay.
6. Sign up for newsletters
I know it’s tempting to immediately archive promotional emails, but inside these emails are sale announcements and special offers. It’s definitely worth a skim if you’re thinking about booking a holiday in the next three months or so. More specifically, there are four times a year during which companies typically offer the most generous discounts in their marketing emails. These special times are New Year, Black Friday, Christmas and, of course, your birthday.
During major holidays, not only are the companies offering generous discounts, but many hotels also reduce prices to be more competitive — it’s essentially a sale on top of a sale! The terms and conditions of these seasonal deals will be announced first via email, so signing up for marketing alerts will ensure you’re the first to know about the best deals. Take advantage of this and treat yourself to a luxury experience on the cheap.
7. Hold rates with free cancellation
If you’re unsure if you are getting the absolute best rate possible, be sure to book a room with a free cancellation policy. This way, if you’re able to find a better deal, you can always cancel your original booking in favor of a better hotel deal. However, don’t make it a habit to book, cancel and rebook multiple times at the same hotel because you could potentially get blocked from reserving that hotel in the future. Even if you’re making a reservation through a third party, hotels have a right to cancel and refund your money if they feel uncomfortable with constant itinerary changes.
8. Finding the best hotel deals requires some patience
Snagging the best hotel deal possible won’t happen overnight. It’ll be tempting to immediately book the first good deal you see online, but remember that slow and steady wins the race. I personally recommend that you take at least two to three weeks to create a short list of amazing properties and then wait until a major holiday comes around to make your reservation.
Another option would be to wait for the first week of a new month to take advantage of new coupons and cashback offers. Either way, you’ll need time to compare and contrast, so don’t rush the process. You have all the time in the world to secure an incredible property for you and your loved ones.
One more thing — if you’re looking to pair hotel savings with great flight deals, check out my article on How to Save Money on Flights. Happy travel deals hunting!