Contrary to popular thinking, the best rate for a room in a high-style hotel isn’t always the one found online.
TRAVEL ADVISORY | Many people we know who stay in memorable hotels for enviable rates direct dial the reservation desk at the actual property they want to visit. They do not book online or through off-site call centres where the wiggle room on rates may be minimal. Before dialling direct, they check hotel’s current rates, what Internet-based travel reservation websites (Expedia, Orbitz, et al) are showing and what rates the hotel’s direct competition is charging.
To learn what Internet-based travel websites are posting, you can look at all of them individually or use a search engine like Bingtravel.com or Kayak.com. Kayak sorts through more than 200 third-party sites and posts the best deal it can find. It may not be for the precise type of accommodation you want, but it gives you an idea of how low pricewise a hotel is willing to go. If Kayak.com does have the best price, you can route your online reservation through it.
Putting The Offline Theory To The Test
Recently we looked on Kayak for hotels in Seattle, Washington, found one that interested us and noted the lowest price. We also looked at the online prices for hotels of similar reputation and quality. We then called our first-choice hotel for reservations and were quoted the price we’d seen on Kayak. When we asked if they could do any better, we received an additional 10 percent off. When we asked if they would meet or beat the competitor’s rate, they said they didn’t price match. But plenty of hotels do (at the very least they may be able to upgrade you without raising the price). Our second choice (a fantastic hotel, by the way) said they would beat their competitor’s rate, so we booked with them.
“Smaller chains like ours, or independent (privately owned) hotels, often have more flexibility when it comes to lowering rates,” the hotel sales and marketing exec at our second choice said, reminding me that top-quality hotels, no matter what discount they offer, always cost more than other accommodation. “That’s why they’re top-quality.” —Ruth Rainey
Visit Kayak at www.kayak.com
Photo: Four Seasons Georges V Hotel, Paris, www.fourseasons.com