Guest Author - Jim Fortune
When the economy was booming, many hotel companies began building new properties. Some of those are opening now, resulting in an increase in hotel room supply late this year, and early next year, just as demand is dropping. Travel experts see the supply vs. demand shift coming sooner. You don't need a college degree in economics to know that more supply and less demand means lower prices.
This excess supply means opportunities for you budget travelers. Here are a few ideas for hotel booking on a budget, so you can get the best deals and save the most money.
It's generally cheaper to stay in major cities on weekends, when there are fewer business travelers, and in resort areas on weekdays and offseason, when there are fewer tourists.
Visitors to urban centers may save by booking outside main tourist areas. For San Diego check out Carlsbad or Ocenaside. Be sure to check out the cost of a commute between where you choose and San Diego. Add is the cost of gas and a rental car if you fly and staying at an outlying area might not make sense or it might. My travel friends say that hotels on Long Island or Westchester might be cheaper than Manhattan, but your savings might be offset by the commuting cost. Try to add in the cost of gas, parking fees, rental cars, etc.to fingure out if you will really save any month.
Frequent Flyer and Point Programs
Most hotel chains have loyalty or frequent guest programs that allow you to use points for free nights. I stay at Holiday Inn Express when traveling and I am a member of their Priority points program. It is easy to join and my points don't expire. I also belong to the Hyatt Rewards program. Imagine my surprise when I got a free night in Grand Cayman a few years back not because I used points but because I happened to mention my card status and they gave me an on the spot upgrade and a free night. I haven't stayed at Hyatt in a while, but I still have my card and won't give it up. You can see why.
Your first stop should be the hotel's web site. That is where I usually find the best price. Check the web site for a price guarantee. If you find a lower rate they will either match it or pay you the difference or some even give you a night or two for free. Also print out the page where you see the guarantee. These web pages change and having a print out might save you hassle in the future if you can quote line and verse what you thought the guarantee was when you booked.
After I try for the best rate, I ask about my AAA membership card price or ask if they have a discount for seniors - AARP Rates. I have a lot of white hair that I have had since I was in my twenties. When I check in I always ask about the senior package. Don't tell them you are a senior if you aren't. But if you ask about a senior rate and you have a few white hairs, who knows? Most places don't have one but they will go out of their way to make you think they have one. This will also work if you are in the military or are retired military. Ask for their military package when you check in. You never know.
Here is another tip I have used. I call the hotel at the local number - not the National Toll Free number. I tell them that I am a resident and I was really hoping to stay at their property and I was wondering if they had a Colorado (or whatever your state of residency is) resident rate. When I stayed in New Mexico this past May, the place where I stayed had a NM rtate just for residents. You had to show your driver's license and you got a discount on the room rate, the spa rate and dining at the restaurant. What the heck. Don't be shy - ASK!
Look for free Internet service and free breakfast; avoid rip-off goodies in the mini-bar, and use your cell phone so you don't get charged for the hotel room phone.
There are deals out there, you just have to work a little harder to get them.
Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy