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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

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      Marvin Dumont

      Entrepreneur, Disruptor

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      Last Updated on December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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      Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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