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If you travel one of your largest opportunities for SAVING YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY resides in the rate you pay for a hotel room. Let's think about this for a moment from a Hotel Manager's perspective. The hotel isn't selling you a tangible product. It is selling you a PERISHABLE service. This means that the hotel has certain "fixed expenses" it will incur whether you rent a room from them or it sits empty. So, if we look at the hotel from the manager's view, EMPTY ROOMS ARE THE ENEMY! Now let's go back to our perspective as a traveler seeking to save money on a hotel room. How can we help the hotel manager raise their occupancy rate but, at the same time avoid being RIPPED OFF by unreasonably high hotel prices?
First, despite what you may read on websites or see in t.v. commercials, the lowest rate for a hotel room is more likely to come from your interaction with the hotel itself and NOT a "middle man" promising you "savings". But, if you are to succeed, you need to know two more things. In the hotel room game, planniing ahead DOES NOT PAY! Second, reserviving a hotel at a low price provding TRUE savings means that you are going to have to barter. Many individuals don't want to do this and that is one rason why an individual staying in the same type room may pay up to THREE TIMES AS MUCH as another individual in a similar room on the same night! So how can YOU barter effectively and maximize your TRUE savings? Read on.
The pressure on the hotel manager to offer you a lower rate reaches it's peak as the closer we get to the date of your hotel stay. In other words, if you make reservations far in advance, there's a much smaller chance for signigicant and TRUE savings. Hotel prices, like the list prices of automobiles and many other products and services are artifically high to begin with. In the trade, these are known as "rack rates". Only the naieve or very affluent would ever pay a "rack rate" for a hotel room. But, to get TRUE savings, you must do some homework. Begin by identifying at least two hotels in the area where you wish to stay. Then, if there is a "no penatly" cancellation policy at your second choice hotel, go ahead and make a reservation taking advantage of your AARP rate status and any other "Special rates or discounts" available. Avoid any restrictive cancellation policy that does not offer the opoportunity to cancel without penalty. If you do this, you now have the "leverage" you need to succed in getting TRUE savings from your top choice hotel. If not, you are going into battle UNARMED! Step two, NOT MORE THAN THREE DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE call the reservations clerk at your TOP CHOICE hotel. Tell them the truth. You wish to stay with them but, you will not pay their "rack rate" and they are going to have BEAT THE COMPETITION. Negotiate until you arrive at a price you are willing to pay and MAKE SURE YOU GET WRITTEN CONFIRMATION OF THE RATE. Now YOU have maximized your TRUE savings on your hotel room. TIP: Don't forget to CANCEL that reservation you made at your "second choice" hotel in time to avoid charges!
DOWNSIDE: It is difficult to make a confimed reservation more than three days in advance since the vacancy pressure doesn't peak until the occupancy date is near.
UPSIDE: You will save big and sleep better knowing that you're paying much less than the person in the next room!
ENJOY YOUR TRAVEL!