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  • Hotels.com

How to Find Best Hotel Deals

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We can probably all agree that vacation planning also involves finding the hotel to stay in. And the real challenge is to find the one that has all the conveniences and comfort you need, is centrally located (many visitors prefer centrally located hotels with easy access to most of the attractions), and, of course, is reasonable priced. Accommodation costs represent a significant bulk of the total vacation expenditure and by having the best hotel deals available vacationers can afford to experience more of what a holiday destination has to offer.

Well, trying to choose the right hotel can be rather a daunting task unless you know where to look. So we offer some useful tips that will help you find the best hotel deals for your unforgettable vacation.

1. Have a thorough research

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Do your research properly, looking at all the options available to you so that you can be sure of getting the best accommodation possible for your trip.

2. Decide when to go

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It’s important to understand that the costs of hotel accommodation can vary by the time of year that you plan to travel. A winter trip to a popular summer destination will be much cheaper than if you made the same trip during the summer months and vice versa. In travel timing is truly everything. Fly to Prague in July and you will mingle with the camera-snapping multicultural crowd on Charles Bridge, but return in late October, and you may have this Central European landmark all to yourself. If your travel plans are flexible, allowing your vacation to fall at any time in the year, try to travel during your target destination shoulder season. Naturally, peak time means peak cost and peak crowds, but during the shoulder season and you’ll get thinner crowds, more relaxed locals, and, most importantly, cheaper rates. During the fall and early spring, for example, Tuscany is much less crowded, the weather is warm but not hot, and hotel rates can be a lot cheaper than during the busy summer months.

3. Decide when to book

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Unfortunately, there isn’t a certain time that is perfect to buy in all situations, and much depends on the location and time of year. If you must travel during the peak season, finding accommodations early is your best bet, though you may fail to get a good deal, but at least you won’t get closed out. And if you start early enough, you can monitor hotel rates online at websites like Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz, and when you see the price you want, snag it—but again, when you travel will dictate the best strategy for getting the best hotel deal. If it’s January in Paris, you might be better off going without reservations and bargaining with the innkeeper, who could have plenty of empty rooms to fill at that period. That same innkeeper will be booked solid in July and will serve people who reserved with him months in advance. If you’re going the bargaining route on an overseas trip, make reservations for at least your first night. Some websites actually specialize in last-minute deals, for instance Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia.

4. Book during the Week

Weekend trips can often be more expensive than weekday trips to the same hotel as well. Where possible try to book your vacation trips during the week, and at the very beginning of the season that the area is particularly known for. Depending on what you plan on doing on your trip, you may want to visit the area completely off season to make sure that you get the best rates possible.

5. Search for the hotel cheapest room rates online

Check websites like Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity. They strike bargain deals with most of the major hotels, and travelers will usually find the best rates by comparing hotels on these different sites.

6. Check the hotel directly

Even though you may seem to have found a bargain rate, there may be an even cheaper deal. So go to the hotel website before booking to make sure you can’t find a better rate. Some hotels, like the Marriott offer special deals only via their own sites. Many also guarantee the lowest rates, with a deep discount if you find lower prices elsewhere. Plus, if you book directly on the hotel website, you’ll avoid the search engine booking fee, which is usually around $5.

7. Bid on a room at Priceline.com

Bid on a room at Priceline.com which became famous for the online airfare bid, but also offers the hotel bids. In fact, they claim that half of their name-your-price customers save more than 46 percent on their hotel rooms, in comparison to published prices on Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotels.com. Also keep in mind that depending on the destination and time of year, you can have extraordinary luck with last-minute bids. But be careful, as there’s some risk involved. If you get your bid, you’re committed to staying there (or at least paying for the stay).

8. Buy a vacation package

This way you can save on discounted accommodation rates and get discounted airline ticket as well.

9. Participate in a hotel-reward program

Participate in a hotel-reward program. These kind of programs offer a great opportunity for considerable cost saving. Getting the best benefits comes with loyalty. If you regularly stay at the same hotel you should be eligible for “special customer status” which means that you get rooms at discount or frill like double for the price of a single or late checkout. If you are lucky you can get both discount and frills. We advise to use at least two programs to provide geographical coverage but not more than three to maximize the frequency of your visits. If you don’t plan many visits, look for a program with fewer members so that you could obtain upgrades and more comfortable rooms. For example, Marriott reward program offers flexibility and hotels that meet the need of the luxury traveler, the thrifty traveler and those in-between. There are more than 2,700 Marriott hotels in over 60 countries, including Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Marriott Conference Centers , Fairfield Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club International, Horizons by Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. With 68 hotels in 31 countries, the Four Seasons doesn’t officially offer a reward program, but past visits are recorded and upgrades and special amenities are granted to the loyal guests. Priority reward members of Inter Continental Hotels Group can easily earn elite member status among a large number of world-wide hotels, including Inter Continental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Select, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suite located in 150 countries.

10. Book your vacation as early as possible

Even cheap hotels will often increase their rates as they begin to book up. The rule is: the fewer rooms available in a particular area, the more expensive the available ones are going to be. For that reason, as soon as you know that you are going to travel to a particular location, and you know the dates of you travels try to go ahead and find a hotel and make reservations. This way you can ensure that you are getting the best rate possible for your trip.

11. Consult a travel agent

Use the services of a good travel agent, especially if you going to travel abroad or some exotic place and need some expert advice about entry visa, insurance and the like. The recommendations of a travel agent may save you serious cash and time. They’re also invaluable if you’re drawn to adventure and eco lodges, or want to use a hotel as a home base for a variety of outdoor activities in a remote country.

12. Don’t check only cheap hotels

And finally the last recommendation is not to limit the search to only cheap and budget hotels when looking for bargain hotel rates, as cheap room rates can sometimes be found in even the top luxury hotels. If traveling at short notice always check for late availability in luxury hotels. In these recessionary times, taking a cheap booking is better than having an empty room.