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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hotel Perk Tricks – Save Money

Hotel Perk Tricks – Save Money

Hotels vary their rates based on supply and demand and that is just basic economics. Just try to get a room in Montreal during the Formula 1 weekend and you will know what I mean. Hotels also try to make money charging high prices for basics like water, internet and parking. If you crave the convenience of these services then the costs are justified but if you are a family travelling on a budget then trying to save wherever you can is important.

But there are ways of saving your hard earned cash or taking advantage of perks while travelling. Here is 11 ideas:

1    1.      You can sometimes get a free upgrade if you mention that it’s an anniversary or a very special milestone. This works best if your wife or girlfriend gushes away while checking in or making a reservation. This got me a wonderful penthouse suite in Coeur D’Alene.

2.       Parking. Hotels seem to get away with charging for parking these days. The biggest ouch is the Valet parking. Just ask where the parking lot is and park there without the added mark up. One hotel charges $30 to valet park and the public garage is right next door. The cost is $12 so the hotel pockets $18 bucks a night and you still need to tip and wait 20 minutes for your car to show up. If you are a high roller then this isn’t important to you.

3.       Room Service is another way hotels like to make extra money for the convenience of your meal arriving on a trolley. $30 for a hamburger and fries is a bit much. Many local restaurants offer delivery service right to your hotel room for a lot less money. Better yet, stretch those legs and take the family down the street for a pizza in a sit down restaurant and leave the hotel room for sleeping. The maids will be super happy to not have to deal with the empty pizza boxes as well.  Try staying at Hotels that offer complimentary breakfast buffet unless you think $22 per person is reasonable.

4.       Travel Rewards Programs. Join them use them and subscribe to their emails for deals. Starwood offers a stay 4 nights get one night free program for rewards members. That can save you an easy $200 while collecting points for a free stay.

5.       Travel Credit cards. Here is where you can double up on points. You get rewards points with your Starwood card and you collect points for paying with your Starwood Visa card. You get a free stay a lot quicker.

6.       Wi-Fi Charges. Beware that many hotels still think they can get away with a $15 a day charge and some charge per device. It’s ridiculous to check your hotel bill and find a $75 fee for 5 devices in the family per night. Thankfully, it was waived down to $15 but next time you may not be so lucky. Get a D-Link Travel router and share the one IP address with multiple devices. Offer the password to your neighbours as well for more savings on their bill.

7.       Bribes. I don’t do this but I know of a friend who does and for $20 at times can work for him. Make sure the Front Desk staff looks like they will take the bribe. Most female staff will not take the bribe suggesting that bribery is gender specific. Probably the way to go in Las Vegas but maybe a $50 works better

8.       Call the hotel directly for better hotel rates and a chance to negotiate directly. Some hotels will beat the competitors pricing by 10-25%. Also, if the hotel is sold out on-line and you are a rewards member you can sometimes get access to the hidden rooms that are saved for last minute travellers.

9.       Sports Weekends are the times to avoid any hotel. My friends just came back from Rochester, NY where their hotel was jammed to the gills with soccer, lacrosse and swim teams. Always ask the Front Desk to find out what is going on. If you are staying at the Westin in Blue Mountain during the Elvis Festival may mean many look alikes at the breakfast buffet.

10.  Water can be a ridiculous $4 a bottle for something that costs 10 cents in bulk or 50 cents at the local grocery store. Bring your own and save enough money for a nice dinner.

11.   Laundry. Use the in-house washing machines or the dry cleaner down the street.

      Remember that the maids are the lowest paid and have the worst job. Tip a few bucks every day for your stay and be happy knowing many single moms willl appreciate it while emptying your room of pizza boxes, garbage, empty shopping bags, shoe boxes and Subway wrappers.

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