We all want to save a few bucks whenever possible, and with tightening budgets business travelers in particular are looking for ways to stretch their travel dollars. This month, we’ve dished out various tips and tricks for finding great rates on hotel rooms. But the hotel booking experience is still ripe with pitfalls that can mean your company picking up an extra-large tab at check-out. Here are five hotel booking mistakes your business is making…and how to avoid them.
Booking Too Early
There is not an ideal sweet spot for when to make your hotel reservations, but booking any more than 90 days out is almost guaranteed to score you the worst possible price. Unless your conference happens to be in New Jersey over Superbowl weekend, you will get a better deal closer to 30 days out. So book the other portions of the trip and then set a calendar alert to book your hotel closer to the actual date.
Paying Full Price
Between travel bundling sites, daily travel deals, and members only clubs, there is rarely a good reason to pay full price for a hotel room, especially for business travelers. Discounted rates, like those offered by Hotel Engine, can represent significant savings. If you still can’t find the deal you’re looking for, call the hotel directly and ask for a discount—you’ll be surprised how often they say yes.
Taking a One-and-Done Approach
Hotel prices change. It’s tempting to book a room and then not think about it again until check-in, but this practice may cause you to miss out on some incredible deals. At many hotels, the best price is a non-refundable rate that needs to be booked 7 or 14 days out, but even these can change. Instead, book the best refundable rate you can find and then keep checking back. You can always cancel it and book a non-refundable rate later, when the price has gone down.
Not Reading the Club-Level Room Descriptions
Many hotels, especially in the larger chains, have executive club-level rooms designed especially for business travelers. These rooms often come with a free breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres, and a dedicated business center with free wi-fi. This can be a great deal—but only if you can actually take advantage of the perks. At some hotels, these offers are only valid during the week, so if you are staying over the weekend, then the only difference between the rooms on your floor and those on the floor below is whether or not a key card is required to access the elevator. Even during the week, unless your meetings will be held at the hotel, how often will you be around for the evening reception? That extra $40 or $50 you spend on a club-level room might be put to better use elsewhere.
Paying Too Many Extra Fees
Hotels rates fall on a continuum between all-inclusive and airline-style à la carte. Because of the variation, don’t make assumptions about what is and what is not covered by the sticker price. Beware of nasty surprises, like $10/day wi-fi and the $4 bottled water that looked free, but really wasn’t. Often you can eliminate these fees entirely by joining the hotel’s loyalty program.
The bottom line is: do your research. Check around for the best rates, read the fine print, and book on Hotel Engine. Your business travel savings are just around the corner.
Featured image by hobvias sudoneighm (Flickr: /doh) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons