If you thought that a small discount was the best you could rustle up when planning a vacation, here’s an eye opener. To the eagle-eyed searcher, hotels and airlines can both be ‘gamed’ by using tactics that frequent tourists have honed over the year. Here are some that you can apply instantly, to score at least one great bargain.
Booking in Advance vs. Last Minute Booking
As a rule of thumb, book airlines as soon as your vacation dates are confirmed. Don’t even wait to get home to your computer – begin your search on mobile immediately, decide your flight budget, and within the day, get your tickets. With volatile ticket prices, even an hour’s delay can cost you a cheap ticket.
Just like airlines, bookings should be done quickly if a hotel stay is part of a package. However, there are often great sales for unsold hotel rooms, which you can keep an eye out for, especially if you’ve made a spur of the moment getaway plan instead of something you’ve been planning for months. You might score great discounts on unsold rooms that the hotel is having a hard time selling.
Look for Cashback Options and App Deals
A host of hospitality sector start-ups and online hotel booking portals, which are dedicated to affordable travel, keep advertising great packages. You’ll have to be quick to grab these deals, which include cashback options and other incentives.
Check at the Hotel
While hotel reservation sites like to position themselves as providers of the best deals, sometimes the hotel’s website itself has great offers you might be ignoring. These include early booking promotions, 3-for- 2-night deals, and other freebies that comparison sites often don’t register. If you’re checking the hotel website for prices, don’t make up your mind until you hit the final booking page, which shows the true cost, inclusive of taxes and other charges.
Be Wary of Room on Request
Don’t assume that rooms ‘on request’ mean a free room you can request – it often means you can pay for an extra room, or that you need to check for availability.
Be Adventurous with ‘Secret’ Hotels
Hotel sites often leave out hotel names while showing off prices. This happens when hotels are attempting to sell off unused rooms, without eating into their existing customer base’s ability to pay for hotels. All you need to specify the star level, see the hotel description that comes up, and maybe Google it to get an idea of the hotel’s name. This way, you’ll score 5- star hotels at 3-star prices.
Sign up with Hotels, Airlines and Travel Services Provider Memberships
You can sign up for regular email alerts from airlines, hotels, and deals website in the travel and hospitality sector. Airlines provide frequent flyer miles, and these can often be combined with discount fares especially if they’re part of a larger group of airlines. Similarly, hotels often advertise rush deals and other freebies on Facebook, Twitter and emails when they’re hard pressed to sell rooms. Credit cards often provide membership benefits, so it’s great if you have 2-3 cards between you and your significant other.