All frequent travellers must understand these ultimate hotel booking hacks. Get amazing deals and options for memorable trips to your favourite destinations!
Travelling is no longer a luxury for middle-class people. The popularity of hotel booking apps should tell you that people have made travelling a priority. It is no longer a strange thing to find young people who have travelled frequently, even before they hit their mid-20s.
According to a 2019 report by Booking.com, 72% of “global travellers” visited new areas for authentic experiences. New generations no longer look for simple relaxation or shopping sprees when travelling. Instead, they focus more on experiences. This prompted people around the world to become frequent travellers, gathering as many experiences as they can while wandering.
A hotel is one of the most important factors you must think about when travelling. All frequent travellers have “hacks” to save their accommodation budget. Want to be a smart “global citizen” like all those frequent travellers on Instagram? You can do it, lah! Just follow these useful hotel booking hacks and save a large amount of money for your next long trip.
1. Travel during the Shoulder Season
Travelling in low season is a common hotel hack to save money, but what if you cannot leave your work? Choose "shoulder season" as the second-best option. The term refers to the period between high and low seasons, usually April—mid-June and September—October. You still get great hotel rates, and it is usually easy to get a work leave during this season.
Different cities in the world may have their own shoulder seasons. For example, Bangkok has November and late February. Tokyo has the first half of March. Hanoi has November and March. Make sure to do your research before booking hotels.
2. Hunt for Hotel Coupon Codes
“Booking a posh hotel with coupons? Why so cheap, lah?”
Strangely, despite the benefits of coupons for travel budgets, some people still refuse to consider this option. This may be because coupons are often associated with cheapness. However, an online hotel coupon can slash your accommodation budget significantly. If you are lucky, you may even find coupons that offer 50% discounts and above!
Frequent travellers have several hotel booking apps on their phones. It is a strategy to catch as many coupons as possible. Turn on their alert systems to get information about new coupons and related deals.
3. Apply for Hotel Credit Cards
Do you know that hotels partner with banks to release credit cards? International hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton have joined co-brand programs with credit card companies to give unique rewards. You can use transaction points to get discounts for rooms and other hotel services. The average annual fees for these cards are around $100, but if you are a frequent traveller, the rewards can help when booking hotels.
Hotel credit cards are probably not ideal options for travellers who prefer 3-star hotels at best, but they are great if you prefer the comfort of luxurious hotels.
4. Get Upgrades with Premium Credit Cards
Have a premium credit card? Don’t waste it, lah! Try booking a 2 or 3-star hotel with a premium credit card to get upgrades. Many hotels, especially international chains, provide upgrades for owners of premium credit cards. The perks consist of things like getting a bigger room, free breakfast, late check-out, and even gifts.
If you stay at the same hotel for several trips and pay with a premium credit card, you will get even bigger rewards. The hotel will prioritise you during a hotel booking process, and you can collect loyalty points.
5. Ask the Hotel Directly for Deals
If you stay at small hotels, try calling directly to enquire about deals. Mike Richard, the founder of Vagabondish, has used this trick repeatedly when booking rooms. His method mostly works at small chains and family-run accommodations. Smaller hotels make it easier for prospective guests to call and speak directly to the person responsible.
When calling the hotel, open the conversation politely and describe your wish to negotiate deals. This method has a higher rate of success if you call for shoulder or low season bookings. Hotel owners are also more likely to give deals if you stay for a long time.
6. Tell the Hotel about Your Special Occasion
Do you have a honeymoon trip? Will your birthday fall on the day of your travel? Shiok! Now call the hotel you want and inform the staff about your special occasion. Many hotels cultivate customer loyalties by giving complimentary services for special occasions.
Birthdays, anniversaries, and honeymoons are the most common special events when hotels provide complimentary services. They can consist of room upgrades, special decorations, and gifts. Depending on the hotel, you may end up with complimentary services, such as a free couple spa.
7. Ask the Receptionist for Different Rooms
You may secure the cheapest room possible when booking a hotel, but your options are not limited! You can still secure an upgrade when arriving at the reception desk. Before checking in, politely ask if there are still other room options. If you are lucky, the receptionist or manager will happily upgrade your rooms with a more economical rate.
This trick can happen because hotels often limit the room options on hotel booking apps. They usually focus on "getting rid" of the least desirable rooms first. You can ask for specific things from a possible new room, like a better view or a larger size.
8. Earn Loyalty from One Brand
If you have a favourite hotel, try focusing on that brand when booking. Repeat guests will have their names recorded in the hotel system and the hotel will give you perks and benefits for being a loyal customer. Usually, when a guest is tagged as a loyal customer, the hotel staff will offer upgrades or deals without you asking for them.
Some hotels offer loyalty points for the money spent, while others count the nights you stay. If you cannot afford to stay at the best room all the time, try staying at the “lesser” property of the same brand. For example, instead of Park Hyatt, stay at Hyatt Place or Hyatt House for a change.
9. Transfer Credit Card Points for Rewards
If you have universal credit cards, like Visa or MasterCard, use the miles or points to get hotel rewards. Contact the hotel and ask if you can transfer the credit card points or miles into their programs. However, make sure that your credit card has a travel reward program first.
Depending on the reward points, you may get different deals or upgrades for online hotel bookings. For example, you may get an upgraded room, rate discounts, free service packages, or free breakfast.
10. Match Your Loyalty Status with the Other Hotel
This hack only works if you have already earned a loyalty status from a hotel brand. When trying to book a room in a new hotel, inform the manager about your loyalty status from the other hotel. Ask if you can have that status transferred.
This trick usually works at a 4 or 5-star hotel, and your loyalty status is usually transferred to a hotel with the same rank. Follow the instructions to have your status transferred. Usually, it takes several weeks to complete the process.
11. Talk Directly to the Manager
Experienced a mediocre service from a supposedly great hotel? No worries, lah. Turn it into an opportunity to nab good deals when looking for a cheap room. Send an email directly to the hotel manager and describe your mediocre experience (Be polite while explaining it!).
This method is not always reliable, but many hotel managers prefer to provide rewards than deal with disgruntled guests. This is a good way to find surprising deals and perks when booking a hotel.
12. Get Discounts from Hotel Bidding Sites
Bidding sites can be useful sources for finding huge discounts, which are even more than what the hotel apps can give you. Websites such as Hotwire and Priceline offer bidding options with big discounts. You may not always get what you want (and the competition is tight). However, if successful, you can save more than half of your accommodation budget.
13. Try Last-minute Booking
Beginner travellers usually hesitate to book shortly before the trip, but frequent travellers see the advantages of doing that. Last-minute booking is a great solution for getting a room with the lowest rate. Hotels often try to have their rooms fully booked during a certain period by lowering the rate. The last-minute booking is an effort to snatch one of these leftover rooms.
You can also try a coupon-finding website to grab the last-minute deals. Groupon, for example, is a website that specialises in finding coupons, vouchers, and last-minute offers, including for hotel rooms.
14. Staying for More Than One Week
If possible, stay in a hotel for more than a week and call the manager to discuss a lower rate. This method is especially great if you are loyal to a hotel brand. Ask for a lower monthly rate when confirming your long stay and enjoy better deals when you are staying there. This method can be successful during the shoulder season, where hotel managers are trying to fill all their rooms.
Being a frequent traveller means you must be wise and resourceful to get the best experiences without breaking your wallet. Try these hacks when booking hotels and get the most comfortable room without paying too much.