Many hotels will offer deep discounts for rooms booked within 24 hours of arrival. Spontaneity and travel with kids may not feasible, but if you can swing it, there is a terrific opportunity to save money on favorite destinations. Here are some tips to facilitate the process:
Call the hotel directly
Of course, we’d rather have you request Ciao Bambino-recommended properties through us since that is how we generate revenue — but in many cases email is too slow of a channel for these last minute requests, plus you may not be connected with the right contact, per my next tip below.
Avoid central hotel reservations
Many larger hotel brands use external, centralized call centers for bookings and in my experience those staff members rarely have access or the authority to discount rates on the fly. You can ask the operator to send you to the in-house reservations line, but in some cases this may not exist (i.e. the only option is reservations outside of the hotel). If this is the situation, ask the hotel operator to send you to the front desk.
Speak to a manager if necessary
I just had a situation this past weekend where I was sent to central reservations even after dialing the hotel’s local number (vs the 800 number on the web page). The reservations agent I spoke to categorically stated that the hotel was not offering last minute discounts and when I asked to speak to a supervisor, they said that none was available. At this point, I could have given up, but being the persistent woman that I am, I asked to be transferred to the front desk supervisor on staff; he immediately offered an appealing rate — 50% off of the “normal rate” for the quoted room category. Done!
Don’t be shy about asking for a discount
Like many things in life, hotel rates are based on supply and demand. Hotels need to generate profits and empty rooms don’t make money — they would rather sell room inventory for a discount, then not sell the room inventory at all. This is one reason why Ciao Bambino uses form-based requests instead of a booking engine — our clients have the opportunity to dialog with hotels about the room configurations and pricing that will work best for their family. There is nothing wrong with asking for a better rate at any point in the process — the hotel can always simply say no — noting that you are more likely to receive a discount if they have a good reason to give you one, meaning they have excess rooms to sell.
Get the quote/confirmation in writing
The downside of phone conversations vs. email is that you don’t have the “paper trail” of the conversation and what was promised. In my rush to book and leave for our last minute trip last weekend, I didn’t realize that the hotel didn’t send me a confirmation around the price and the room category quoted. When I checked into the hotel that had downgraded me from what was quoted and the attitude was essentially — you got a cheap rate, deal with it. Needless to say I was not pleased, but since I failed to ensure I had a confirmation letter, it was my word against theirs. Yes the customer is supposed to “always” be right, but in this case it wasn’t so and I didn’t want to spend my weekend arguing about it.
Hotels want your business right now and will work with you — within reason — to accommodate your needs.
Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy