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BEFORE YOU CRUISE

Five Tips to Finding Affordable Hotels

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Affordable hotel rooms

photo: flickr/kathika

Everyone is looking to save some extra money when it comes to planning their vacation by booking an affordable hotel. If you’re cruising out of a major port like Miami, Boston, or New York City, chances are the room cost will put a hurting on your wallet,..unless you know where you’re looking.

But on the other end of the spectrum, do you want to risk flying in day of the cruise? Plus a pre- or post-hotel stay is a great way to see a city you’re sailing out of.

Here are some tips that I discovered that work for getting cheaper hotel rates:

Use Priceline and Hotwire. Yes, this may sound obvious but did you know that with sites like BetterBidding and BiddingforTravel you can save hundreds of dollars? These site reveal to you what hotels accepted what rates on Priceline and Hotwire, organized by state and city. I have used this method for a couple of years and it only caught me off guard once (I didn’t research the city) Recently, I saved $150 a night on the Hyatt Regency Downtown Boston.

Four star isn’t always better. If you’re budget conscious you may want to consider going for the lower star. Think about what are your needs at a hotel and what are wants. Usually 3.5 star and up hotels don’t have free internet and a free morning breakfast. Trip Advisor is a great resource for you check out the properties and get an honest review.

Book directly with the hotel. Ask if they have any promotions going on. A lot of hotels will bundle breakfast packages, extended check outs, gas cards, and direct booking internet discounts. Hotel operators hate companies like Hotwire and Priceline because they say they kill the competitive edge of the business. I’ve called hotels and told them that their property is going for this rate on a third party site, most of the time they will honor that rate.

Choose location wisely. If you’re staying in a major city, the hotel rates downtown are going to cost a lot of money but did you know in Fort Lauderdale for example, you can stay just outside of the downtown area for over half the price of a downtown hotel? Recently, at a conference in Miami, I stayed out at the airport hotel and commuted to South Beach for the show because airporth hotels were $130 per night cheaper. A lot of cities have rails, buses, share rides, and other public transportation where staying outside of the “downtown” area is a piece of cake. A lot of hotels also have free shuttles that operate in a five mile radius of their property (plus most of those drivers can be bought).

Look for discounts. There’s plenty of ways to get a percentage knocked off the rate. A popular website that offers coupon codes for hotels is Retail Me orNot. This site has everything from promotional codes to gas cards bundles. Don’t forget if you’re active military, a AAA member or a senior, you are entitled to a discount.

At the end of the day the very first option works the best for me and my travel schedule. I also sign-up for hotel loyalty programs too, that’s as simple as signing up at the desk or online at the hotel. Depending on the property, you can get points for staying at the hotel, even if you use a third party booking engine (I always strike out getting points when booking through Expedia). So you don’t get spammed to death, consider opening a junk email account because the offers will pour in.

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