People ask for free upgrades from economy to business class while flying, so why not do the same at your hotel?
How to do it: Be polite, be friendly. Ask at the front desk when you arrive. Some veteran travelers say you have better chances of a free upgrade to an executive suite if you arrive late in the day – on the chance that the lower-cost rooms get overbooked first. Two friends of mine have met with success by sweetly explaining it's a special occasion. It can't hurt to try. You also have better chances of success if you book directly. A hotel needs to make money from you. If you've booked through a third-party site that takes a percentage, then the hotel already is making less profit on your stay.
2. Always ask hotels for the "out the door costs" rather than the cost per night
Veteran travel guidebook publisher Arthur Frommer is adamant about this. As he mentioned in a recent podcast, many hotel guests have found that the rate they're given over the phone may not include the extra charges and incidentals, such as parking. Some hotels have even added fees for water, pool, phone and Wi-Fi. A note on parking: ask what the hotel parking fees are – compared to the parking facility just across the street.
How to do it: At the front desk prior to your departure, ask politely if they can remove certain costs that weren't obvious, and that you really feel you shouldn't have to pay. Some hotels are more receptive than others.
3. Check the cost of apartment rentals versus hotels rates – especially if you're travelling with multiple family members
There comes a time when your teenage son or daughter really doesn't want to bunk in with you. But booking a room for them down the hall at a hotel gets costly and can be nerve-wracking if you're in a foreign country.
Booking a condo, apartment or home for your holiday means everyone gets some privacy and freedom, but you won't break the bank. This also works if you're travelling with in-laws or friends. Plus, you can cook the occasional meal, so you're not eating out all the time.
How to do it: Visit a site like Holiday Homes (holidayhomes.ca) or Holiday Apartments Rentals (holiday-apartments-rentals.com). Always ensure you get a virtual tour and read testimonials from past visitors.
4. Find cheap digs online
Online travel sites can offer reduced rate accommodation.
How to do it: Consider an aggregator that's known for great discounts. Priceline (priceline.com), for example, has been known to list rooms at over 60 per cent off. Just make sure you don't get stung by extra charges and that the rate is being quoted in Canadian funds. Mid-range hotel chains, such as Best Western (BestWestern.com), have long included parking and high-speed internet in their price, which can add up to significant savings.
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