Business Traveller offers tried-and-tested tips on getting more for your money. This month: hotel stays
If you visit a city regularly, find a hotel you like and stay there repeatedly. Get to know staff and management – some properties host regular “meet the team” events – and use it for functions, be it meetings or parties. Once you become a regular, you are in a position to negotiate rates.
Join a loyalty scheme
Signing up to loyalty programmes will earn you points – as you move through the tiers, you can get free stays, discounted nights and extra services. Some booking websites reward loyalty too – hotels.com has a programme named Welcome Awards that offers a free night for every ten nights purchased.
Name your price
Tell travel bookers and hotels what your budget is and negotiate from there. At the very least, they may throw in a free breakfast or wifi.
Try an agency
Corporate rates attained through travel management companies and hotel booking agencies can provide good savings (although many travellers will maintain they can get better rates by booking direct). “Our corporate discount is up to 30 per cent on the best available rate,” says Jon West, director for UK and Ireland at booking agency HRS. Third-party websites may also sometimes offer better rates than properties’ own sites, though if you tell the hotel what rate you’ve found they may match it.
Use social media
Make the most of offers on Facebook – these are often exclusive to the hotel’s Facebook following. “Some companies offer discount vouchers to those who download their app for mobile booking,” says Matthew Walls, vice-president of marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa at hotels.com. “Check the pricing on apps as opposed to the internet site, as new pricing streams in mobile booking can present value for money.”
Location versus transport costs
Incorporate travel costs into your budget. If your hotel is a £10 taxi ride from where you need to be, opt for a hotel in a better location that costs £10 more.
Keep an eye on hotels launching in your destination, as new ones often offer introductory rates.
Book in advance
If you’re sure your plans won’t change, many hotels offer a non-refundable advance rate that can be a lot cheaper – on average about 20 per cent. Still, the unpredictable nature of business travel means getting a flexible rate might be wiser – some hotels let you cancel for free as late as 6pm on the day.
Fly at night
If it’s an option, fly overnight to avoid an extra night’s hotel stay.
- Try an independent property
“An independent hotel sitting next to a chain hotel, with the same star rating in the same location and with the same user reviews, will cost about 15 per cent less,” West says. Check vhr.com to find members of Voila, a loyalty programme for independent hotels.
Book an apartment
For a longer stay, consider a serviced apartment – they often work out cheaper per night than hotels. Many require guests to say several nights, although Citadines apartments, for example, can be booked for overnight stays (citadines.com).
Go for a hotel that offers free in-room internet access, or at least free wifi in the public areas. Radisson Blu, Aloft, Hotel Indigo and Hyatt Place hotels all include free wifi in their rates.
“If you see a three-star hotel with a review rating of 8.5 out of ten, you could get great value for money,” West says. “Check the business reviews to ensure the hotel suits your purposes.”
Upgrade to club
Charges for club lounge access vary but tend to be £20 to £50 more than a standard room, which may be worthwhile if breakfast, drinks, snacks, wifi and the use of a meeting room are included. You will usually get extra in-room amenities too.
Bypass the minibar…
Don’t pay for drinks from your minibar – buy water or snacks from a local supermarket. Similarly, avoid ordering room service if you can help it.
… and the phone
Try not to use the in-room phone as it can cost way over the odds. Look out for hotels that offer free local calls and international calls at VoIP cost.
Rather than paying for a hotel breakfast, find a local café. If you know you won’t have time for a sit-down breakfast, ensure you’re not being charged for one. Aloft hotels offer 24-hour “grab and go” food stations with light take-away meals and free filter coffee.
Book what you really need
We all like staying in luxury properties, but will you spend enough time in a hotel to benefit from its facilities? If you really only need a bed for the night, consider staying in a more basic property that provides the things you will use.