Revenue Management and Dynamic Pricing have been commonly used in hotel management, especially in developed countries in Europe and North America. The approach has helped hotels improve profitability, at the price of travellers. Today we will introduce and summarize some techniques that individual travellers can use to save money in hotel booking.
Hotel booking tip 1: Select the right searching site
The first step of hotel searching is to find a site with the comprehensive coverage. You don’t want to find out that there is a nicer and cheaper hotel crossing the street just before you check in. Marriott International is the largest hotel company with above 5700 hotels in over 110 countries. But it won’t cover all of your destinations. You’d better pick up an Online Travel Agent (OTA). Booking.com is one with the largest inventory – 1.2 million properties globally. It is the champion in Europe. But if you travel to Asia, Agoda.com may give you much better deals. Well, Ctrip.com is the largest in China. Expedia/Hotels.com is best known in North America. Nevertheless, there is no absolute winner in every region. The best solution is to use a meta-search site, such as FindOptimal.com or Kayak.com, which shows you prices of the same hotel from different vendors.
Hotel booking tip 2: Name your own price
Hotel operation has much more fixed cost than variable cost. When occupation rate is low, hotel operators are willing to sell rooms at very low prices. Against such phenomenon, Priceline invented the Name Your Own Price system. Using this system, you can define your destination area and lodging dates, offer your acceptable prices and then wait hotels that would like to take your price to respond. It requires patience in playing such a game. When your lodging dates are far away, hotels won’t accept low prices; when it is close to your lodging dates, you would face risks of not able to book a room. Therefore, this approach is bettered applied in markets where demand is lower than supply.
Hotel booking tip 3: Book secret hotels
You can also use Priceline’s Express Deals or Hotwire’s Secret Hot Rate Hotels to find deals up to 60% off. Priceline or Hotwire won’t tell you the hotel name and precise location until you pay, although you can see the approximate location on map, as well as the hotel’s star rating and guest rating. There could be some catches. For example, you may find out the hotel charges a super high fee for parking after you book the non-refundable hotel, or the location is too far away from metro stations or restaurants. The good news is that you can reveal those secret hotels on FindOptimal.com. The accuracy is very high for Priceline Express Deals.
Hotel booking tip 4: Consider “Hotel Hopping”
Hotel rates are very dynamic. Hotels with similar conditions in the same area may have very different prices at each night. If you need to stay in a city for several days, you should consider splitting your stay over several places. There are several benefits of “hotel hopping”. First, you may save a significant amount of money by staying at the right hotels on the right nights. The higher the average hotel nightly rate, the more you may save. Second, you may experience different hotel designs and services. Sometimes your ideal hotel doesn’t have vacancy for multiple days in a row. Booking nights separately allows you to stay at that hotel at least in the days when it is available. Last, you have a chance to earn more rewards points if the hotel calculates points by number of stays instead of number of nights. If you don’t have much luggage and spend most of your time outside the hotel anyway, it is worth to check multiple hotels.
Hotel booking tip 5: Optimize Multi-night lodging
When you need to stay at one place for more than one night, don’t book the hotel with one reservation. Splitting the entire lodging period into multiple reservations may save you up to 40%. Hotels have very different rates at different nights. If you book multiple nights with one reservation, some hotels would ask you to pay the highest nightly rates multiplied by number of nights. Nevertheless, booking each night separately is not always the cheapest solution either. You won’t know which way is the best until you test all combinations. Checking rates of all combinations takes lots of time and effort. You can use FindOptimal.com to find out the best solution in several seconds. Do you need to move from room to room multiple times? Not really. When you check in the hotel, just inform the front desk that you have multiple reservations. They would be more than happy to merge your bookings. After all, keeping guests in the same room saves hotel labor and supplies.
Hotel booking tip 6: Select right browser and use Incognito mode
Do you know that a travel searching site like Orbitz or Expedia will return different results when you use different browsers, even if you follow the same process with exactly same input? Why? People with MacBooks tend to use Safari. Since they can afford a more expensive laptop, the searching site will put more expensive hotels on the top of result list. Even worse, they also monitor your browsing history. If you come back to the same hotel page multiple times, the price may become higher because they know you are thinking about booking that hotel. They want to give you some pressure to complete the transaction quickly, at a higher price. To avoid such price increasing, you should use the browser’s Incognito mode.
Hotel booking tip 7: Test different locations and devices
Travel searching sites adopt profit-optimized modes to return different hotel searching results for you not only based on your browser, but also based on your devices and IP addresses. For the same hotel, you may see different prices when your search from different countries. Statistically, international travelers are more generous than domestic customers. Therefore, some travel sites ask higher prices for foreign travelers. To avoid paying more in international destinations, you should test different country settings on the search site. Sometimes you should also use a VPN to change your IP address. Travel searching sites may ask different prices when a user searches with a mobile device. So you should test both desktop and mobile device if you really want to nail down the best price.
It is a complicated world. Hotel operators and OTAs are trying their best to generate more profit from you. As a savvy traveller, you should take all means to protect your hard-earned money. Hopefully, the techniques above will help you to save more in your future hotel bookings.