Book Cheap Hotels?, Here Its Tips
To simplify things, we’ve laid out the cheapest accommodation booking options out there. That includes sharing the best ways to snag a deal (even free!), to our ultimate hotel hacks and tips. Here’s how to book the cheapest accommodation possible!
# Sign in for savings
That one minute it takes to sign up on a hotel or booking website can amount to some serious members-only savings. Skeptical? Check our example below or try comparing for yourself!
Many booking sites offer rewards programs (where you earn credit or free nights after a certain # of bookings) or members programs (where a membership earns you exclusive discounts). If you’re hesitant to sign up because your inbox is perma-flooded with e-mails, fear not! You can still snag deals with a one-time sign-up to get a log-in ID, click “unsubscribe” from all e-mails thereafter.
A few companies that take advantage of members-only rewards programs include:
- Booking.com (earn members-only prices)
- Hotels.com (earn members-only prices and points – after 9 stays your 10th is free)
- Agoda (earn members-only prices)
- C-trip (in China – earns account credit with each booking)
# Use the best search engines
As you’ve probably learnt by now, not all booking services are created equal. Many sites tack on sneaky commissions to already inflated rates. The websites we’ve found to consistently have the best prices that also search broadly include:
- Hotels Combined (combines multiple hotel and hostel search engines including Hostelbookers)
- Booking.com (offers special rates with free membership)
- Hotels.com (often has coupons)
Tips : Reserve as far in advance as possible for best price – intentionally waiting for last-minute deals is a huge gamble, especially considering tip #3 (up next)!
# “Hold” great rates by booking ahead with free cancellation
Booking a reservation that has “free cancellation” can help you secure great rates in advance. Most booking sites have free cancellation on the majority of listings, but always be sure of the cancellation policy and check how long that is valid for (e.g. sometimes it’s only free cancellation until 48 hours before the booking date).
# Sign up for membership discounts
Many (non-hotel/booking site) memberships provide discounts on hotels and hostels worldwide. Often you simply type the membership/discount code in a coupon box when booking online. Some programs that offer discounts include:
- Hostelling International (HI) (provides discounts at HI membership hostels worldwide)
- CAA/AAA (provides members-only discounts on international hotel chains and car rentals)
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC) card (provides discounts on accommodation, transport, and attractions worldwide)
# Scope out coupon codes
Found the best hotel price? Next, find a coupon for that hotel chain or the booking site you found it on. Always put in the year and/or month to filter out expired coupons, e.g. “Hotels.com September 2015 coupon”. Some of the more reliable sites that offer coupons include RetailMeNot and Coupons.com.
Find region-specific search engines and hotel chains
More often than not, broad search engines miss smaller, region specific search engines and hotel chains. It pays to ask around on Tripadvisor forums, friends, and Google to see if there are local hotel chains or booking sites you may not be aware of.
# Try bidding or find last minute &/or mystery deals
Mystery Deals & Bidding
“Mystery deals” happen when the hotel name is only revealed after payment, in exchange for a deep discount off regular rates. Price bidding is a virtual auction, and involves offering your own price on a known hotel (keep in mind that a bid is a commitment to that price each time). Websites that offer mystery deals include Hotwire and Priceline (which also does price bidding).
Last Minute Deals
Last minute deals happen when rates are reduced to sell a room. Such prices can be found on normal booking sites or via HotelTonight, which specializes in last minute deals (get $25 credit using promo code TAVERY19). That being said, it’s notrecommended to delay booking in hopes of finding last minute deals – at least make a Plan A and “hold” a room with free cancellation first (tip #3)!
# Use the sharing economy
The sharing economy relies on “sharing” in one form or another, such as renting someone’s home while they’re on vacation. This is often hugely cheaper (and sometimes even nicer) than hotels, hence its worldwide explosion in popularity.
What does it cost to stay somewhere using the sharing economy? Anywhere from FREE to as much as you want to fork out for a high-end apartment rental. Couchsurfing, housesitting, and house swapping are all cost-free. It doesn’t get much better than that!