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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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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