Monday, 19 May 2014

Cheap Hotel Rates - The Pros and Cons

Cheap hotel rates, without compromising quality is something we all want. Either planning that dream holiday, work event or even weekend getaway the average person often finds themselves balancing quality vs cost.
With the power of the internet the consumer now has the ability to shop around for great deals like never before, but this doesn't always translate into a great experience. Often 'cheap deals', 'discounted rates' or other similar advertising terms hide the real reason for such discounts or cheap rates.
This article will highlight some of the pros and cons for the various schemes that advertise cheap accommodation or cheap hotel rates.
Off-peak / shoulder peak travel
Most tourist destinations have prime times, where the conditions are perfect for the experiences the traveller seeks. According to the laws of supply and demand, when demand is high prices will also be high. Conversely, if the conditions are poor and demand is low many hotels will offer hugely discounted rates as inducements to maintain customer flow and low vacancy rates during these off-peak periods. In these circumstances the traveller will find themselves compromising their holiday experience just to secure cheaper hotel rates. So what other options are there?
Club membership
You can join a club and use the power of traffic volume to get access to these cheaper rates. Every hotel likes high occupancy rates and will combine with travel agents, airline companies etc to offer preferred customer programs. Membership fees can vary from several hundred dollars a year to even thousands, depending on whether you want Accommodation discounts, Dining discounts, Beverage discounts, Leisure services, Beauty treatments, Secretarial services or other exclusive offers. Many also offer reward points as an incentive to keep you in their program. The biggest hint here is do your homework and conduct a cost benefit analysis of each program before you join. Your analysis must be based on:
- The combined costs of the club membership, your holiday/s and all the extra activities; against
- The cost of your holiday/s and the extra activities without the benefits of the membership.
This research can be difficult because many clubs will not advertise their fee structures openly on the internet or in brochures. Be patient, and work it through - because often the benefits of club membership are not what they are purported to be.
Discount accommodation websites
There are literally hundreds of websites that service the discount accommodation industry. For the lazy traveller they are an easy way of finding cheaper rates, however they do not offer deals for every hotel. They are limited to offering deals on the hotels they have pre-existing contracts and arrangements with, so be aware that there will be many other hotels in the area that may meet your needs and desires.
Before you book, telephone the hotel yourself and try to negotiate a better rate. You see hotels pay these websites for driving traffic to their door and direct negotiation may secure you an additional discount, which is effectively a reduction, equivalent to the website's payment. There are contractual issues at play here so don't be surprised if you are not successful - but it is worth a try.
Marketing companies
Another, rarely known option is travel and leisure marketing companies that offer free membership as a reward to you recruiting additional members. These schemes are not everyone's cup of tea, but the incentive of free membership and reward points can truly combine to produce great savings.
There are many more methods to finding cheap deals for quality hotel accommodation. The main point to note is do your homework and make sure you won't actually end up paying more over the long term.
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