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5 Ways to Outsmart Hotels and Save Money

5 Ways to Outsmart Hotels and Save Money

When it comes to dealing with hotels, know that you have the advantage. Hotels are a permanent fixture, which means they can’t change their location and they’re entirely dependent on foot traffic. You, on the other hand, have the option of walking nearby to inquire at competing hotels. And with searches on your phone, you can quickly find key information such as room rates and occupancy levels in your city.

A Google search reveals that in the U.S. the average room rate is between $122 to $137 per night. In 2015, hotel prices rose 3 percent, according to Hotel Price Index (HPI).

Here are ways to cut your hotel costs.

  1. Book late and use rewards programs

In the airline industry, ticket fares increase the longer you wait to book a flight but the opposite is true for the hotel industry. Room rates decrease the longer you wait (to book your room) because these establishments are motivated to increase their occupancy.

There are many tools at your disposal. For instance, HotelTonight is a mobile app that lists discounts at thousands of hotels. Room rates found on the app typically decrease the longer you wait to reserve your room — the later it gets, the more hotels slash their prices to avoid having too many empty beds. On average, the app’s users save 17 percent, according to CEO Sam Shank in an interview with Lifehack.

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Secondly, consider using hotel rewards or card programs. In the case with HotelTonight, the app has a partnership with Capital One that gives Venture and VentureOne cardholders an extra 10 percent discount on top of other savings. Card reward programs often bundle their offers with other promotions. So in this case, Venture cardholders will earn unlimited double miles while VentureOne customers continue to earn 1.25 miles on their purchase.

So do your research. Almost all major credit cards and airlines have partnerships with hotel chains — some award points that accrue toward a free hotel stay or airline ticket and other perks.

  1. Find off-peak times and occupancy levels

Go online and look for off-peak times and occupancy levels in your target city. This is possible through the power of search engines. Media outlets and consulting firms often publish occupancy levels in key cities. A Google search reveals that occupancy rates averaged 84 percent in San Francisco in a recent year, but these levels can be as low as 60 percent in Miami during a certain period.

If nearby hotels have higher numbers of empty beds than they’d like to admit, you should leverage that information to negotiate a lower rate. If you stay for a week, the savings could add up to hundreds of dollars. And that leads to our next tip.

Find out when offseason takes place. It won’t be near the Super Bowl and it won’t take place near March Madness. Hotels may also slash prices at the end of summer or right after holidays, or during midweek (compared weekends). If you’re staying at a hotel and you’re seeing a big crowd, chances are you’re also paying a higher price. It’s Economics 101: More demand equals higher prices while more supply means lower prices.

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If you plan to frequent a specific hotel, then introduce yourself to the manager. Negotiate your rate or ask for a room upgrade. Most hotel managers are well-connected and it’s a shortcut to discovering the ins-and-outs of a locale that you may not know about.

Airplane-wing
    1. Use coupons and vouchers

    Go online and research coupon and hotel voucher sites. They can shave off the room price as well as give your various other benefits. For example, airport hotels can offer free parking, airport shuttle or a cheaper flight. So consider how smaller savings from various sources can add up to a tidy sum.

    A casino hotel may offer free tickets to a show or provide free meals and drinks. If you’re likely to miss breakfast, get a to-go box and save your meal. Take advantage. Hotels want to give you these perks. Competitors are nearby, and being a fixture, hotels are permanently stuck to their location. You’re not.

    1. Travel like a local

    Traveling shouldn’t bind you to perpetually patronize restaurants and local shops to the point where your bank account is in the red. Restaurants and shops located inside the hotel are particularly expensive. Moreover, when you go abroad tourist hotspots are known to significantly inflate prices if you look like a foreigner. Adjust accordingly and you won’t get ripped off.

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    When it comes to dining, there are hotels that have kitchenettes, so you can buy gastronomical delights and cook at your leisure. If you’re traveling abroad, ask the hotel’s front desk if you can get a discount or other perks if you pay in U.S. dollars. The greenback represents a stable currency that, in some cases, is more redeemable than local fiat money.

    1. Ignore entertainment packages

    There are mobile apps that will help you find worthwhile activities. Apps such as ‘CityMaps’ will show you nearby attractions while ‘Peek’ helps you book nearby activities and tours.

    For the most part, forget the hotel’s organized tours and entertainment packages. Most of these packages have significant markups where the hotel collects a nice commission. If you want to go diving, going outside the hotel premises to a nearby diving shop will usually save you money.

    Some packages may not be a bad deal, but how will you really know unless you’re already familiar with local prices? Chances are, you’re not.

    And these packages can include destinations that you won’t necessarily enjoy — like a forced visit to the local zoo when all you really wanted to see was the coastline or historical museum. Always consider that the hotel and tour company may get commissions from forcing you to eat at a particular restaurant or by forcing you to visit a certain destination. They are for-profit enterprises. It’s also tough to back out when the package deal already includes the entry fee to places that you don’t want to visit.

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    Traveling is fun and it should be done smartly. It can definitely be accomplished without breaking your wallet. As Warren Buffett says, “Price is what you pay but value is what you get.”

    Airport-waiting-lounge 2 - Picjumbo - Lifehack

      Featured photo credit: William Warby via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Marvin Dumont

      Entrepreneur, Disruptor

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      Last Updated on October 20, 2020

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

      More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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