How to get a bargain hotel room

How to get a bargain hotel roomMost major hotel groups and many booking websites offer loyalty programs that allow members to earn points for future bookings when they stay.

Booking website hotels.com’s loyalty program Welcome Rewards, for example, allows customers to earn a free night for every 10 nights stayed at more than 65,000 hotels worldwide.

Accor spokesman Peter Hook says members of the group’s LeClub loyalty program, which is free to join, also receive advance notice of sales three to four days before the general public.

Members of Advantage Plus, which has a membership fee, also receive an extra 10 per cent off. Mantra Hotels and Resorts also offers members of its Club.

CuSoon up to 50 per cent discount off rates at its brands Peppers, Mantra and Breakfree across Australia and New Zealand. Hilton HHonors, the loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio, offers the chance to earn and use points at nearly 4000 hotels globally.


Take advantage of best-rate guarantees

In a bid to encourage guests to book direct, many hotels offer guarantees they will beat any other advertised price on their branded websites.

The Starwood Hotels and Resorts group, for example, ensures if you find a lower published rate within 24 hours of booking, you can submit a best rate guarantee claim and they will honour the lower rate. They will also give you an extra 10 per cent discount or 2000 Starpoints. You may also avoid extra fees and charges by booking direct.


Book a “secret hotel”

The “secret hotels” concept, introduced into the Australian market by lastminute.com.au five years ago, allows savings of up to 70 per cent for travellers who are willing to book a hotel without knowing its name or exact address until the deal is confirmed.

The great rates mean people who wouldn’t normally splurge on a luxury hotel room can afford a 5-star hotel stay on a 3-star budget, while hotels fill rooms that might otherwise stay empty without damaging their brand.


Follow your favourite hotel group on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to newsletters

Many hotel groups give 24 to 48 hours’ notice of upcoming sales to people who follow them on social networking websites. Signing up to receive newsletters via email is another great way to get exclusive offers and advance warning about upcoming sales.

“Special promotions and packages are often released first to our database, giving them the opportunity to snap up specials in peak times,” Best Western Australasia’s general manager of sales and marketing Kimi Anderson says.


Stay close to home

Some hotels offer seasonally based discounts for locals, with savings of up to 30 per cent if you book in winter.

“We also do some great offerings in the restaurant that provide excellent value-adds to the dining experience,” Mantra Hotels and Resorts marketing director Ken Minnikin says. He says properties in Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, North Queensland and Lorne in Victoria offered such deals.


Bid for your room at auction

Australia’s largest auction house, Grays Online, offers Australians the chance to bid for hotel rooms via its website graysescape.com. Hotels are able to fill empty rooms via controlled discounting, with guests able to score discounts of up to 20 per cent by negotiating directly with the property.


Book early

The earlier you book, the more you’ll save, according to Anderson. She says Best Western guarantees if you book its advance rate at least 30 days ahead, you’ll save at least 10 per cent off the best available rate for the day.

“Most hotels operate on a dynamic pricing model these days, which means that as demand increases, so does the rate,” InterContinental Hotels Group Australasia’s Anne Gill says. “Booking a minimum of three weeks out increases the chances of getting a more attractive rate.”


Use a travel agent

Travel agents have access to more rooms, rates and availability than you do. They can also work faster and more efficiently than you trawling through sites looking for deals.


Stay on a Sunday

Booking on a night that’s typically less busy than others can lead to cheaper rates, Gill says.

“For many city hotels, this is generally Sunday night,” she says. “Given that hotel rates these days are generally based on demand, prices will be lower if the hotel isn’t as busy. Every hotel is different; if you want to check, don’t be afraid to give the hotel a call and ask.”


Download an app

Hotels.com spokeswoman Katherine Birch says downloading a hotel website or booking company’s app enables travellers to book on the go and access last-minute deals. “Our app has 20,000 last-minute hotel deals on offer at any one time so for travellers who are flexible, last-minute deals can offer unbelievable savings.”