Most people will reserve a hotel room at one time or another, but how can you get the best rates?
- Call hotel chains. Some hotels will offer better rates over the phone than through any other method. This also offers the traveler the option of saying, "I can't afford this. Do you have a better rate?" Sometimes, the reservation clerk will be able to help a traveler get a better rate. A traveler should always mention AAA membership, senior citizen status (if applicable) and any corporate discounts, gift certificates, frequent flyer miles, etc.
- Search the Internet. Most hotel chains have an Internet reservation service and this is always worth a look. There are also numerous travel search engines that look for hotel rates and display the results. Some hotel chains have a business association with particular search engines and may run specials through particular search engines. These rates may not be available over the phone or through a travel agent.
The advantage of searching for hotel rates on the Internet is that a traveler can specify amenities and ratings. He can also search in particular sections of a city, such as those hotels near an airport. The wise traveler will also want to search the same dates on several different search engines. He may even be able to use one of the Web sites that allows the traveler to name his own price for a room. The caveat for these Web sites is that, if the traveler's price is accepted, his credit card is immediately charged for the rate, and he cannot receive a refund on the room if he becomes unable to take the trip.
- Speak with a travel agent. Many travel agents charge small fees for their services now, but they still offer a level of personalized service that a traveler just can't get over the phone or on the Internet. They may search in many of the same places as the traveler does, but some hotel chains will offer discounts for reservations booked through travel agents. The travel agent may also have visited a particular destination and may have some insight on where to stay--and where not to. Keeping this in mind, he or she may be able to book a nice room at the best rates for the traveler.
Finding the best hotel rates is a lot like finding rates or prices for anything else. Comparison shopping is key.