Compare Online. It’s obvious, but are you doing so at the right time and on the right websites? You should begin searching and comparing as early as 10 to 12 weeks. Or you can snipe last minute deals which may also be rock bottom. While MakeMyTrip, Yatra etc are the more visible ones in India, you must dig into Booking.com, Agoda.co.in and Hotels.co.in. First of all, head over to www.tripadvisor.com. Start searching for the best hotels at the destination. If you enter the check-in and check-out dates, you will be shown rates aggregated from different booking engines. Click on the button for those booking engines.
At the very least you should have opened in the tabs of your browser, www.hotels.com. www.booking.com www.hotelscombined.com and www.agoda.com. When you go to each of these booking engines, verify that the rates shown are for your given arrival and departure dates. You will be surprised at the mismatch which happens most of the time. You should also input the number of rooms you need and number of guests (adults and children) per room search again. Copy and paste these prices from each booking portal into the spreadsheet. Rinse and repeat for each such hotel you select. You should compare at least 5 properties as per your desired location, budget and facilities. Also I recommend doing this for different blocks of days. Many hotels offer weekend deals so this may bring down your cost.
Photo Gallery How to Get Great Hotel Deals in India
How to Get Great Hotel Deals in India Images
Flexible Travel Dates. Try and accommodate your leave / vacation as per hotel availability and not the other way round. This way you can get the choice of rooms at the right prices. Many hotels have low rates during weekends when the business travelers have checked out. You may want to plan your stay during those times and you will see that your average room rates fall. If you are travelling during holiday season at the destination or some festival season, you will have to shell out a lot more. Can you put a hold on your vacation plans for that time?
Amenities Charges. Check if the hotel nickel-and-dimes you for every small amenity. One can rack up quite a bill even if you don’t use the mini-bar. Get your own nuts and snacks and stock up on drinks and water, else you or the kids are tempted to open the mini-bar. Do they charge exorbitant rates for a telephone call, or for that extra bottle of water and some more? Make phone calls from your cellphone or use your laptop / iPad to make calls from Skype (you do have account don’t you?) If you must stay at this hotel, just get every charge clarified during check-in lest you get a nasty surprise later. You can also find information online, but you can also call the hotel and ask which fees will apply during your stay and if any of them can be waived, please? If you are being charged gratuities in the bill, you may safely do away with the tips. When you are checking out of the hotel, ensure that you have seen the bill and ask for any clarifications before signing it and handing over the credit card. Some hotels count on you to hurriedly run to catch your flight and will slap some charges unknown to you. Major chains will usually not do this. All I am saying is – be careful.
Hidden Discounts. While most hotel chains have discounts for members of AARP / AAA / Govt & Military, none of them are for Indians – although in India, the Taj Group of Hotels offer discounted rates to Military officers. So the only discounts are when they have a promotional offer. So you can search for coupon codes / promotional codes (small alphanumeric text which you copy and paste while booking online; it will most likely be one step short of payment) from sites like Hotels.com, RetailMeNot.com, Groupon etc. You must sign up for newsletters from the hotel chains that will send you occasional email newsletters and offers. Many times, one does get excellent deals not available to others.
Loyalty Programs. Go ahead and sign up for your favourite hotels’ loyalty program Sometimes when you login and search for hotel stay, you so get different rates as opposed to when you just search as a guest (without logging in). It is simple – they just want to get you hooked. But why should it matter if you get a good deal, no?
Negotiate / Bargain. Now, this is a very important and most ignored tip. After searching, comparing and narrowing down to your choices, contact the hotels and straight up ask for a deal or a discount or a package. Incredible? No, you can do that even with the big chains. I have done that successfully at Singapore, Athens and Dubai. If they cannot offer lesser prices than the booking portal, then ask for free meals, upgrades, airport transfers, heck even passes to various tourist attractions. Hotels do have them and are willing to part with them after some negotiations. Now, this is an art where if you are uncomfortable, or are shy (what will they think of me?) then you may not get it. But, hey, people have even gone to the extent of saying that they will post excellent reviews of the hotel on TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Facebook etc. No one can resist the temptation of a good 5-star rating on social media!
Look out for Packages. Most hotel websites have a link / button on their navigation for Packages or Deals and they are usually something on the lines of ‘x% off for early-bird booking’, ‘summer / winter family getaway discount’ , ‘honeymooners discount’ etc. Take advantage of these packages, which may perhaps not be available on the booking portals.
In earlier exercises, we considered our travel to Malaysia and Singapore for a total of 8 nights, with say, 4 nights each at Malaysia and Singapore. We can further divide the 4 nights in Malaysia as 2 nights each at Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur. The rates are for the total nights at each location with breakfast.
From the above table it is clear that the cheapest deal is possible with a combination of hotel and bed & breakfast as follows – Hotel at Genting (Rs. 7,500), Bed & Breakfast at Kuala Lumpur (Rs. 8,325) and Singapore (Rs. 30,000). The total for this combination works out to Rs. 45,825. The saving of almost Rs. 26,000 will more than make up for the cost of breakfast for 6 days. (Breakfast at Genting Highlands hotel is included). Moreover, the B&Bs are in city centre – the one at KL is next to KLCC / Petronas Towers and the one at Singapore is minutes away from Orchard Road. This will further save you on local transportation costs to central attractions and they are also within easy reach of many eateries for other meals.
Now, do a similar exercise for the destination of your choice.