Saving money on a hotel room is sometimes a question away. Just asking if a better rate is available can in some cases save a significant amount of money. My brother in law wins the prize for the biggest discount, however, because with one question he saved over $200.
We had been planning a New Year’s Eve stay at a hotel with some family near the Mall Of America in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metropolitan area. The location would put us in walking distance of several restaurant options for dinner, along with the potential to go to a movie and a comedy club all found within, or near the mall.
We were also looking to get together with a larger group on New Year’s Day to have our annual family Christmas gathering on my wife’s side of the family. The thought was we could get a suite large enough to accommodate our Christmas gathering. Adults could hang out in the suite, and kids could go down to the pool. One hotel we checked with seemed perfect, as they offered a 5pm checkout on New Year’s Day. This would allow us to use the room for a few extra hours in the afternoon for our gathering.
There was just one problem; That hotel was not renting out it’s suites for New Year’s Eve.
Another hotel was found right across the street from the mall that was renting out it’s suites. Unfortunately, they did not offer a 5pm checkout. My brother in law can be very persuasive, and simply by mentioning that we were looking to book multiple rooms there instead of at a different hotel that did offer a 5pm checkout, he was able to get them to accommodate our needs.
Had we not been able to get the later checkout, we would have had several other alternatives:
- Hold our gathering at someone’s home, but then we would not have the ability to use a pool.
- Rent the suite for an extra night, at the cost of over $200.
Hotels have a wide range of flexibility allowing you to score a discount, or get them to bend their usual terms to fit your needs. Here are some tips to be successful when dealing with hotels:
- Ask multiple questions regarding available discounts: Ask if they have a corporate rate, a AAA rate, or discounts for being a member of any kind of club. If you ask enough questions, you may be surprised to find that you qualify for one, OR, they may just get sick of you asking and give you a discount anyway.
- Use Leverage: Using our experience as a guide, if one hotel doesn’t quite fit your needs, ask another hotel to match it. The worst they can say is no.
- Late Arrival: If you walk into a hotel late at night needing a room, ask for a discount since you won’t get full use of the room or the facilities. We’ve done this several times, and have always been successful.
Early Check in
There have been times when we’ve either wanted, or needed an early check in. The standard answer is, “We cannot guarantee an early check in time.” I always find this interesting, since I see cleaning people readying rooms for the next guest as early as 8am. Call in advance and ask for an early check in. Then, arrive early and ask again. I’ve heard my wife say on more than one occasion, “You’re telling me there’s not one room in this entire hotel that’s ready for check in?” One always seems to magically become ready.
Late Check Out
10:55 is not the best time to call to request a late checkout when you’re supposed to be out by 11. I suggest always requesting a late checkout when you check in. If you don’t need it, no harm no foul. But if you need the extra time, you’ve got it.
A full hotel is an anomaly. Most nights there are open rooms, and getting someone in those rooms is their primary objective, even if they have to offer some perks to make it happen.
Have you ever asked a hotel to bend their policies, or asked for a discount? Did it work?