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How To Book A Better Hotel Room In 2013
Scour Social Media
You're already aware that hotels offer specials on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Make sure to follow your favorite brands and "subscribe" to these updates. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you don't want to miss a special or promotion because the update was buried in your news feed. Don't forget about email either – hotel's aren't likely to spam your inboxes, but often send out valuable promotions and alerts via traditional e-blasts.
Pick Up The Phone
Don't be afraid to call the hotel directly. Ask if they can match the rate you saw on a flash sale website or on Expedia. Hotels want your business. They are often willing to negotiate rates, particularly for last-minute travel when occupancy permits. On that note, join the hotel's loyalty program wherever possible. In addition to a dedicated phone attendant, you'll also gain points and a record of previous stays.
Hotels, particularly in the luxury market, are paying closer attention to guest preferences than ever before. Request feather-free pillows once and they should be in your room automatically on your next stay. Savvy hotels are tracking guest requests, so don't be shy in asking for what you want ... within reason, of course.
Last-minute bookings are more popular than ever, and hotels have admitted that they'll often discount rates if rooms are available. Not many new apps have launched, but some of our favorites, like Hotel Tonight have improved and added cities, and even our favorite flash-sale darling Jetsetter has added a "rooms for tonight" option. If you're willing to pay full price, try a site like WantMeGetMe, which allows you to be guaranteed certain VIP perks like upgrades and late checkouts with a rate comparable to booking through the hotel's website.
Go Boutique ... or Leverage Loyalty
Smaller hotel chains are still fighting the big brands for your business. While business travelers often seek out bigger brands for their loyalty perks, consider booking independent or smaller hotels, which can offer a more personalized experience and higher-touch staff. If you're always traveling to big brands, make sure to use your loyalty membership status when traveling for personal reasons. Even if you can't book with points, you'll be flagged in the system as a frequent guest.
Get An Agent
Travel agencies are making a comeback. Agencies can often negotiate preferred rates, assist with itineraries beyond the hotel, and help arrange air travel.
Have another tip we haven't listed? Share it in the comments, below.
[Image Credit: McLean Robbins]
Filed under: Hotels and Accommodations