CHECK IN LATE
Just like airlines, hotels have a certain amount of uncertainty over their occupancy figures. The closer it gets to the end of a day, the clearer that picture becomes, meaning they may be more willing to release upgrades that are still available.
At the same time, if your room category happens to be overbooked and all the other guests have checked in - you're once again in prime position to receive a complimentary upgrade.
TIME YOUR BOOKING
Booking in advance will almost always lead to savings on the normal rate. Naturally, the longer the lead time, the greater the saving. Accor are currently touting a 30 per cent discount for bookings made 30 days in advance, Marriott Courtyard is offering a 20 per cent discount for stays booked 14 days in advance while Four Seasons Hong Kong is offering a 10 per cent discount for bookings made just one week in advance.
On the other hand, booking last minute can also reap the rewards. Hotels typically offer 24-48 hour cancellation policies, meaning they often have rooms to fill at lower rates.
STAY AT NEW HOTELS
It’s a common industry practice for new hotels to offer significantly cheaper rates in the two or three months following their opening – in fact discounts of over 50 per cent are not unusual. This helps the properties to build up traveller traffic quickly and let the word get out, while sorting out any early teething problems.
Take The Olympian Hong Kong for example. The 32 all-suite, boutique property opened its doors earlier this month (see here) and is offering a special introductory Deluxe Olympian room rate from HK$1,600 (US$206) until June 30 – that's a 40 per cent saving on the normal Best Available Rate of HK$2,650 (US$342) per night in July.
For those with an adventurous side, "secret hotels" are an excellent way of getting cheap rates. A secret hotel refers to hotels that would rather fill rooms at heavily discounted rates than allow them to remain empty. Customers won’t know which hotel they’re choosing during the booking stage – this is only revealed after successful payment, however, there are descriptions to allow you to make educated decisions. For example, the “Top Secret Hotels” section on lastminute.com lists a “luxury hotel near Tower Bridge (London) with pool and gym” with rates starting at £89 per night. Sounds like a bargain to us.
One of the best ways to get free stays, complimentary upgrades and more, is to sign up to various hotel loyalty schemes. Hilton HHonors for example, offers discounts, upgrades and perks such as late check-out and personalised amenities. With Starwood Preferred Guest membership, customers can redeem stays at over 1,000 hotels or use points on airlines if they wish. In addition to redeeming stays, the iPrefer programme offers members cash coupons to use points on things like spa services and has also just launched a special global sweepstake for new and existing members. Enrollment is usually free and takes a few minutes – so what are you waiting for?
Got any better tips? Let us know!