We spoke to Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert at Coupons.com, Josh Belkin, the vice president and general manager of Hotels.com's North America branch, Cheryl Rosner, the CEO of Stayful, and Ivy Chou, the content and marketing director for DealsPlus.com, to get their best tips for booking a room.
From when to book to how to find hidden discounts, this list can save you bundles the next time you plan to stay at a hotel.
Look into business hotels.
According to Pavini, business hotels can provide great deals, especially when traveling within Europe. The reason is because business can often be slow during summer months and on weekends at hotels that cater to business travelers, which can lead to lower prices.
Ask for a corner room.
Pavini also recommends opting for a corner room, since you'll typically get more square footage for the same price. If you're looking to upgrade to a corner room, Pavini suggests that you be discreet and avoid asking at times when there are several guests waiting to be assisted.
Check in near the end of the day.
If you're hoping to snag an upgrade, checking in toward the end of the day might be your answer. According to Pavini, since hotels have a better sense of occupancy by that point, they are more likely to offer upgrades that are still available.
Instead of calling the 800 reservation numbers, call the hotel directly.
The reason why Pavini suggests doing this is because, often, people who are working directly at the property have a greater ability of upgrading you when possible. If you stay at a hotel regularly, keeping a friendly relationship with it and booking directly can also increase your perks.
Book within the cancellation period.
According to Rosner, when it comes to hotels, sometimes waiting until the last minute can help you snag a better price tag. Typically, a hotel's cancellation falls anywhere between 24 to 48 hours in advance, at which point rooms become available at lower rates.
Bundle your hotel and flight booking.
Booking your flight and hotel together can sometimes lead to savings. It's a tip that Belkin recommends as well, as it can often lead to savings on both hotels and flights.
Sign up for a hotel's loyalty programs.
"One of the best ways to receive free upgrades is to sign up for a loyalty program and stick to it," Pavini says. Marriott's loyalty program includes a best-rate guarantee for guests, free Wi-Fi on each trip, and access to exclusive events and experiences, while other programs include free nights or free items with bookings.
Or opt for a loyalty program through booking websites.
While hotels directly offer loyalty programs, third-party booking sites do as well. For example, loyalty members with Hotels.com can book 10 nights and get one for free. The 10 nights can be mixed and matched in different locations.
Sign up for alerts on price drops.
When you don't have the time to keep a close eye on prices, sign up for alerts through websites like Hotels.com and Kayak. They'll take care of the work for you, emailing you when the prices start to drop while ensuring that they don't flood your inbox.
Let them know if you're an influencer.
According to Pavini, if you happen to be active on rating websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp, or have a large presence on social media, let the front desk know. This is not to say that you should expect perks, but sometimes the hotel will make the trip extra special.
Check to see where prices are increasing and decreasing.
If you're not set on a particular destination, take a look at Hotels.com's Hotel Price Index, which provides information on where hotel prices are increasing and decreasing. The results are based on bookings made on the website and prices paid by customers per room per night, including taxes and fees.
Tap into apps.
Apps can help you unlock a world of discounts. Apps like Hotel Tonight can get you top-notch last-minute discounts on rooms, while loyalty members can access a secret prices section within the Hotels.com app to get rooms for $200 and under during peak times, like weekends.
Book a room at a new property.
Pavini also recommends booking a room at a new hotel, since this can sometimes lead to lower rates. This is because typically at these times, the hotel will be looking to increase business and get the word out, which can often lead to the ability to snag upgrades, according to Pavini.
Use coupon codes.
Coupons might not be the first thing you think about when looking to book a room, but websites like Coupons.com and DealsPlus.com have entire sections of coupon codes for travelers. These include discounts on hotel stays in various destinations and on flights.
Mention when it's a special occasion.
Whether it's your birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, or first time at a hotel, it never hurts to mention that you're there celebrating a special time. Sometimes, it can lead to upgrades or amenity kits that help make your stay all the more special.
Follow the rule of opposites.
Rosner recommends going with "the opposites" — booking opposite to when the majority would. Rosner mentioned that hotels in business districts can offer great deals during the weekend, while resort areas should be booked midweek for savings.
Look for reciprocal opportunities for earning points.
Hotels work with various companies to offer guests the chance to earn points. For example, Starwood Preferred Guests can earn points when using Uber during their stay, and Marriott guests can earn points for shopping for flowers, gifts, and wines on select websites.
Refer your friends.
Hotels like referrals that bring in new business, and often reward guests for it. Marriott will give guests up to 50,000 bonus points for referrals, and 10,000 bonus points for free for referred friends. Similarly, websites like Stayful offer $25 off each time you refer a friend.
Book a secret hotel.
Secret hotel rooms are essentially rooms that are being sold at a reduced price from hotels that don't want the rooms left empty. You won't know which hotel you're booking the room in upfront, but savings can often be as much as 20% to 50% off the original listed price. Examples include LastMinute.com's Top Secret Hotels section and Hotwire's secret rates.
See what perks your credit card offers.
Most credit cards like Discover and Capital One Venture offer travelers everything from cash back to bonus points or miles. That's why Chou suggests checking what your credit card can provide, in addition to the rewards programs hotels have.
Use membership programs and special offers.
According to Chou, members of programs like AAA, AARP, ADP, and even the American Bar Association can access special discounts. This can include 25% off bookings, free activity vouchers, and up to $100 off Disneyland Resort hotels.
Follow up if there are any problems with your stay.