2020 was one of the worst years ever for the hotel industry, and 2021 saw an extension of those challenges. Now that things have settled down, hotels are resuming operations and hoping to fill rooms. As the travel industry gets back on track in earnest, it’s a great time to research how to get the best hotel deal.
Many hotels sat empty collecting dust for the past couple of years, leaving hoteliers scrambling pay their loans to avoid bankruptcy. According to NPR, “Hotels hit all-time lows in occupancy and in revenue per available room,” with business declining by 48%, and occupancy levels not expected to return until at least 2024. Here’s a look at some great ways Americans are getting back to traveling right now.
Online Travel Agencies
Hotels strive to give similar rates for rooms whether you come from Kayak, Expedia, or otherwise. Many hotel budget gurus still recommend using various sites and then comparing to hotels themselves. Some hotels will match (or even beat rates) from online travel agencies, so it can pay to search around. The con is that your hotel loyalty points will not be honored if you are booking through a third party.
Hotel loyalty programs are free to join, and often give discounted rates on hotels that vary with your “status” tier. These typically exist for large chain hotels, but you might even be able to find discounts in in newsletters for smaller hotels by joining their mailing lists. You can also see if there are new hotels opening where you want to travel and see if you can find an introductory rate (make sure to get email updates). You might even want to create a spare email address for all your loyalty programs.
Hotel Roulette “Unsold Rooms”
Many sites offer the ability to book a “mystery” hotel in a given star class. Thus, you could specify you want a four-star hotel in a given part of Las Vegas for a certain number of days. These sites, such as Hotwire.com, will tell you chain brands that you are likely to get if you book (though it won’t tell you exactly which hotel it is). You can sometimes tell, if you are savvy, which hotel it is from the ratings on the booking site itself or on TripAdvisor. We have played this guessing game before, and usually we are correct about half the time. Hotel roulette can wind you up with a better price than you might otherwise get, and for a nicer room. Just be sure to compare to actual hotel rates; while hotel roulette can be quite a bit cheaper at times, sometimes it’s not much more to just book a known hotel.
“Secondhand” Hotel Rooms
If you’ve ever booked a hotel room or a flight, you are familiar with the concept of getting a cheaper rate which is non-refundable. Many people who book these un-refundable hotels wind up with the need to cancel, but because it’s non-refundable, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Enter sites like SpareFare, which is the biggest travel marketplace with a trusted and secure exchange system. If sellers have a flight, hotel, or holiday package they cannot use, they can sell it to other buyers on the platform. Buyers can get travel deals at a great bargain compared to what they might otherwise cost, and SpareFare handles the change in accommodations.
Travel restrictions have been easing across the world, and with operators getting back into full swing, now is a great time to research hotel deals before occupancy rates return to normal.