Okay, we know that booking accommodation can be stressful! Isn’t everything related to money that way? It is usually the second biggest expense that you will have, after paying for the pricey (or not) airfare. So is there anything that you could do?
The short answer is YES! While you probably can’t make it an enjoyable experience, you can at least reduce the stress associated with it.
I believe the reason why it ends up being a negative experience is that most of us, including me, of course, keep changing their comfort level in the booking process. Let me elaborate. You find a reasonable priced room with zero amenities, you are not sure you are satisfied. The very next minute, another room with a slightly higher price tag emerges from the search results but with better amenities. At this point, you take the scale out and start to weigh the pros and cons. And before you know… stress is creeping in.
Best Advice: My number one advice for you guys is to decide what you are comfortable with paying, that will determine where the scales will be inclined to and you won’t have to spend countless of hours on it.
We are listing some of our favorite booking accommodation tips that can either lower the price you are already comfortable with, give you some extra perks or invest towards your future stays. Keep reading, save money and nurture your travel adventures.
#1 Look into AAA Membership
Also known as the “triple A,” this yearly membership service can give you more than you expect to pay for. Besides all roadside assistance gigs that you get access to, they offer great travel services as well as discounts. Some of them include 5% off at Hilton’s and Marriott’s portfolio, 10% at Hyatt and up to %15 at SPG. That can get you a sweet deal depending on dates and seasons even at some of the bigger brands.
#2 Use your Status
Having a status in some of the major brands like Gold with Marriott, SPG, and Hilton Status nowadays is not only for people who spend countless nights at the brand’s properties. Travel Credit Cards like the American Express Platinum can give you Gold Status with SPG, Hilton, and Marriott without having to stay 20 nights a year in any of the properties.
This could really save you big time. Even if you pay the regular rate for the room, sometimes the breakfast, free wifi, hotel lounge access and other amenities can overall “lower” the price you pay. For example, you find a room in a random hotel for 100 dollars with nothing included, and you pay for everything separately. What if you see the same room for $140 at Hilton, but you get complimentary breakfast, extra points (that you can redeem for future stays), water, access to gym/ pool and possibly even an upgrade of the room and welcome gift. It’s hard to decide?
#3 Staying for more than a day?
Generally, we are seeing a trend connected to the length of the stay at a property. This could be looked at in two different ways. Sometimes, not rare, we were able to “negotiate” a lower price directly with the property if we stay longer. It’s not a thing 100% of the time, but hey, its worth to try.
Second, if you are staying with Airbnb, might be worth it to stay longer, since you will be paying the cleaning fee anyways whether you stay 1 night or 3 nights at the same place. So, base rate of $100/ a night + $30 cleaning fee, could be reduced to $110 a night= 3 nights X $100+ $30 cleaning fee. Isn’t that a sweet deal?
#4 Hotel/ Credit Card Double Check
We are sure you have been browsing the search engines all day. Time to book? Once you decide on a place to stay, check that hotel’s actual website before you book. Very often, the hotel or brand may be running specials not advertised on the booking site.
The same goes for your credit card, notably American Express. They have their own membership offers such as cash back or points when you stay at a hotel and pay with your AMEX. The last time I waited for business at Hilton LAX, I spent with my card and received 3000 bonus points.
Pro Tip: If you are using AMEX and there is an offer available, you have to add it to your card before you use the card. If you are like me and check the offers once already checked into the hotel- there is a sweet way around it. Contact the front desk, change the room charges to another card and upon check out, switch to your AMEX again. Hey, it is a little bit of a hustle but 3000 points is an offer not to miss.
#5 Twenties Do Magic
If you are staying at a smaller hotel, or at not a busy time at all, meaning you are the only one at the check-in desk, it’s time to pull out a pro tool. Slip in a twenty dollar bill when you ask for an upgrade and hand your passport/ ID and credit card. I know it sounds sketchy but actually works quite well, your twenty might go a long way sometimes.
#6 Offer Up A Review
Similar to the shady #5 tip, during check-in, ask them if they are on TripAdvisor or Yelp perhaps, because you’d love to write a lovely review. Sometimes this small gesture can lead to a nice room upgrade, free wifi or free breakfast and much more. For me, this one is the last reserve. I use it usually if my first impressions of the property are good and I’m almost certain a good review will be honest and suiting the situation. I never want to mislead other fellow travelers with paid reviews. It is a slippery slope.
#7 Use Credit Card Reward Points
We have talked about a lot of the Points and Rewards Programs in our articles Part 1 and Part 2. If you have picked one of the credit cards and collecting points, they can actually do you very good in booking airfare. The points earned through hotel brands are redeemable for free or discounted nights at the same or partner properties. With the American Express Platinum, however, you have greater flexibility to pay with your points at checkout at Expedia or transfer your points to other programs. Who would not love to stay for “free,” okay, a well designed “free.”
#8 Collect points whenever you can!
Many of you will book through third-party websites like Expedia, Kayak, Momondo, Skyscanner or perhaps, Hotwire. No matter what property you reserve make sure that you make the most out of it. When booking through third-party websites, sometimes, not always you are not allowed to collect membership rewards points, but sometimes there is a way around it. Make sure you add your membership number online after your booking. With your booking number, you can go directly to the property website and retrieve your reservation details there, at this point add your membership number.
Pro Tip: If this is not possible, make sure you are very very nice and positive during check-in and kindly ask the concierge to put your number in. Make sure you are casual about it.
We would love to hear from you guys if any of those tips/ tricks worked for you, saved you money, gave you some perks? They are always part of our arsenal of travel tools, and we pay considerable attention to them but never spend too much time weighing the pros and cons, this is when the stress is starting to build up. Instead, decide what you are comfortable to pay and from then on make simple choices.
P.S Book Smart, not cheap!