I must preface this How to Get the Most out of Your Money series by saying that I stand firm in the belief that I am not cheap. I am not tacky in trying to save money in certain areas. I am simply believe in getting the most out of your money in every situation.
I should also preface this specific post by saying that you should always be 100% honest and respectful when it comes to expressing your dissatisfaction. Lying or stretching the truth just to get discounts or freebies is simply dishonest and quite frankly, very sad.
I recently got more for my money at a very nice hotel by simply asking. See Living Beyond Our Means for the complete details.
There are a couple of different strategies that I use when booking a hotel. There's a slew of discount hotel websites out there such as Priceline, Kayak, Travelocity and Hotels.com. Hotels.com is my personal favorite. I have always been able to find the best rates there. Additionally, they offer a free night with every 10 nights booked.
Here's a tip when using these sites: after you find a rate that you like, call the hotel directly and ask for a better rate. Chances are they will beat the rate, since if you book with them directly, they don't have to pay a finder's fee to the discount booking site.
Remember the high hotel taxes when budgeting. I now expect a tax of $15+ per night, but just make sure you know how much it's going to be so you can incorporate it into your vacation's budget.
During Your Stay
Ask for upgrades. Nicely. But ask. If you'd like a room with a view, make it known. If you want to be away from the pool area, tell them. Hotels will try to grant your reasonable requests as much as possible. They want you to come back, so they're going to work for your satisfaction.
Take a look at what simply asking if they had a room with a view available did for us on a recent stay:
Be self-sufficient. Without being obnoxious, do things yourself if you can. If you brought luggage that you can carry, then carry it yourself. If you need a luggage cart, tip a bellman to being your things to your room. If you can self-park your car, do it. If they serve the same food at a restaurant on site as they do for room-service, go get it yourself. Room service charges inflate the prices even more, so avoid them if you can.
As I did with the parking here, make it known if you don't like certain charges. Obviously, you can't say that you think the beer should be cheaper or something like that. Parking, internet charges and gym use charges are things charges that hotels are likely to waive when asked. Also, scan the charges to make sure they are all correct. Occasionally, mix-ups can happen and it's easiest to fix before you leave.
- Join the rewards program of whatever hotel you are staying at.
- BYOB. Bringing just a bottle of wine or two can save you from buying a ridiculously overpriced one.
- Booking in advance may warrant a cheaper rate. The same goes for "off peak" dates.
- Book bundles carefully. If you're going to use the spa anyway, booking a bundle with a spa treatment works. If it's just adding on things that you were not going to buy, it doesn't make financial sense.