The Secret to Cheaper Hotel Bills

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Reserving rooms and grabbing hotel discounts online is all the rage these days. But some hospitality industry experts say that, for the best deal possible, it’s best to bypass that website, and ignore that 1-800 number. Instead, call the hotel front desk directly and negotiate a better deal. Here’s how.

First off, know that hotel desk clerks do have the power to negotiate with you. In an article in Budget Travel "Confessions of a Front-Desk Clerk" the unnamed author advises “What you want to do is contact us directly and request the best price. I'm shocked when guests agree to the rack rate without a peep.”

Some direct tips on getting the job done at the hotel front desk? Let’s take a look.

Hold your temper. Hotel guests may not know it, but hotel desk clerks often record notes of any contentious interaction with guests. So if you question a hotel clerk’s intelligence, every member of the staff will likely know about it, and will treat you accordingly.

Negotiate later in the day. Hotel rooms are a perishable item, there’s no doubt that that. If a room isn’t reserved, the hotel makes that much less cash for the day. So when you do negotiate, aim for the late afternoon. Hotel managers are prone to cutting a deal, rather than have the room go empty for the night.

Know what the competition is offering. If you’re staying at a national hotel chain, make sure you know what their local counterparts are charging. Then, at the front desk, ask the clerk if they can “beat” the competitor’s price. Don’t be surprised when you get a better deal.

Talk the lingo. Hotel desk clerks and their managers appreciate a guest who is polite and cuts right to the chase. Using terms like “is that the best you can do” or “can I get an upgrade?” are preferable to stomping your foot and demanding action.

Go off the beaten path. Some major hotel chains have uniform rates and can be stubborn (but not resistant) to changing them. But smaller, private hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are more amenable to negotiating. In those situations, chances are you’re already talking to the CEO.

Travelers who don’t negotiate with the hotel front desk may be missing out on a better deal. So be positive and polite, and chances are you’ll catch a break at the front desk.

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