Spicy Deals

Last Minute Hotel Deals

Anyone going on vacation is going to need a place to stay, and that usually means trying to find a hotel. Hunting for accommodations for last minute vacations can be tricky, since hotels in popular areas tend to fill up quickly, and require booking well in advance. However, for people looking for last minute hotel deals, there is hope. Hotels cost a lot of money to operate. This is true regardless of how many visitors they have. As a result, a hotel that has a lot of empty rooms available is losing money, which is why many of them are willing to compromise on their prices and offer cheap hotel deals for bookings made at the last minute. If their alternative is having an extra empty room for the night, many hotel owners are willing to cut vacationers a break in their price. This is true for just about every hotel, making it possible for vacationers to find great last minute luxury hotel deals, as well.

Of course, getting great last minute hotel deals is a bit more complicated than simply waiting to the last minute, going to a hotel, and requesting a discount. Since these last minute hotel discounts are only offered by places that have extra space to fill, the cost of getting cheap hotels is a lack of options.

Planning ahead offers vacationers the ability to choose where they want to go, where they want to stay, and how they want to get there. People planning last minute holidays don’t generally have that luxury, and much choose between what destinations, accommodations, and travel options are left. For travelers who are willing to take a hotel just outside of town, instead of one in the heart of the city, or are willing to stay at a different hotel than the one they were hoping for, then finding last minute hotel rates is a lot easier.

People looking for last minute travel bargains can sometimes find cheap hotel deals bundled up as an all-inclusive package. These deals are great for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of planning an entire vacation from soup to nuts, and are having a hard time finding a flight, a hotel, activities, a guided tour group, and other vacation needs separately. There are a great many websites out there that offer these all-inclusive last minute vacation deals, and all vacationers need to do is be willing to book within two to three weeks of their departure date.

This helps vacationers out by giving them access to great last minute vacations, and helps hotel owners, airlines, and cruise lines out by allowing them to fill their empty slots instead of losing money. For vacationers that are willing to be flexible about the location of their accommodations and what kind of rooms they get, it’s easy to find really cheap hotel deals at the last minute that simply aren’t available beforehand.

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Last minute deals is a popular way of finding great vacation packages and saving money. First launched a few years ago, last minute hotel rates quickly revolutionized the market. Many travelers realized that they can wait until last minute and get the best deal possible, enjoying reduced rates not only for hotels but for air fares and car rentals as well. The situation has changed since then as hotels and resorts started offering early bookings in an effort to encourage travelers to book early. If you do have time and can plan in advance, we recommend that you look for early booking promotions as this will allow you to get great deals not just for hotels but also for bundled vacation packages. However, if you are not sure about the dates, and can afford being flexible and consistent, then looking for last minute vacation deals is still the way to go.

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Tips for finding last minute hotel room rates:

1. Look for web sites specializing in last minute deals in your area. If you can’t find such a web site, then consider global sites instead. For instance, Expedia and Travelocity have local web sites for Canada and some other countries. Specialized last minute travel web sites will offer you more last minute deals than big global names, even if they do dabble in last minute bookings.

2. Don’t be shy to shop around for last minute deals. Some sites specialize in last minute air fare, while others offer last minute hotel bargains or last minute Caribbean vacation packages.

3. Keep in mind the time of the year you are expecting to travel. For instance, major air carriers tend to increase prices around national holidays or for summer travel to Europe. However, low cost airlines may reduce their already low prices even further closer to the date of the departure if they still have unsold inventory. Bundled deals normally come at reduced prices, but could be reduced even further if the tour operator who bundled the deal for you couldn’t sell all of it. Companies like Expedia and Travelocity always have bundled deals on sale as these deals are put together months in advance, and have to be sold even at a very low markup, or they will have to cover the losses.

4. Flexibility is probably the key in successful last minute hotel hunting. If you have fixed dates you still can try to search for last minute deals, but chances are you may end up in a hotel that would be nowhere close to where you actually wanted it to be. In my personal experience, changing reservation dates even by one day can work miracles. I normally pick up a month when I want to travel and then attempt to find the best deals for any dates for that specific month, particularly in high season, like a summer trip to Europe, or Caribbean vacations in December.

Also, you need to be flexible with the type of room you are willing to stay at, or the type of bed you’d want to accept. I check rooms with the queen-size bed first, and if those are not available, I would check out rooms with a king-size bed or double beds. If you are planning to travel alone, don’t stop at checking only single rooms – check out double-occupancy rooms as well. Hotels don’t care if you stay there all by yourself or with a partner, but it does give you a better choice and price range.

5. Many hotels and resorts offer rewards programs to loyal customers. If you liked the hotel or resort you stayed at, check if they offer any type of loyalty program that you can participate in. Earning points will help you save some money as you will be able to exchange the points for a couple of free nights or other perks, such as spa credits or similar.

6. A few words about packaged vacations. While it’s a great way to save money, a bundled vacation is what it is – bundled, meaning there is little room for flexibility. You will normally be offered fixed dates, types of room, air carrier and types of cars you can rent, if included. The air carrier might not be the most convenient from your location, or the dates might not be the best. In other words, restrictions apply, and that’s why it’s important that you be flexible with your requirements when looking for last minute vacations. One thing to remember, though. Once you arrive at your resort, don’t hesitate to ask for an upgrade. I did it many times, and while it doesn’t always work, you might be surprised to find out how often your request for an upgrade is granted, particularly when traveling off-season. The same is with the hotels – always ask for a better room for the same price. If hotels do have those available, they won’t hesitate to give you an upgrade in the hope of a better hotel and customer service experience.

7. A big question is whether or not you would be better off booking directly with the hotel or via a tour operator, or global booking sites like hotels.com or booking.com. There is no straight answer to the question. There was a time when I believed that booking with the hotels directly would give me the best price. However, it’s rarely true these days. For instance, when I tried to book one of my favorites hotels in Paris last June directly with the hotels, nothing was available. I was very disappointed, but still decided to check some global booking sites. To my surprise, two of them offered me great a price for the dates I was looking for. This tells me that these booking companies still had their blocks of rooms unsold. And, even though the prices were a bit higher than the hotels’ published rates, it still was a great deal, particularly because it was two weeks before the departure. Now, I could have waited a bit longer, as I know that these sites will further reduce the price if they still have some inventory unsold, but it was a huge risk to take – I could have ended up with a better price, but they also could have sold out quickly. So, I opted to book. The way the inventory goes is unpredictable. Sometimes if sells fast, while other times, it doesn’t. You never know.

8. Big hotels offer more last minute hotel deals. This is simply because they may end up with many empty rooms for many different reasons. But they would always wait until the last possible moment before they reduce the rates. Normally, a day or two before your arrival, or even the day you check in. Sometimes I would check the rates online the day I arrive, and if I see reduced rates for that very day, I won’t hesitate to ask for that rate at the reception. Hotels just need to put “heads in beds” so to speak, so don’t hesitate to ask for a better rate or an upgrade.

9. Often times, some big events are happening in the city, like a tennis tournament, or a huge exhibition, which may affect the hotel rates. It’s a good practice to check if your destination city has any big events happening during your specific dates. Hotel rates during such periods tend to grow or remain unchanged. However, a day or two before the event, or the day right after, hotels may give you a really low price as demand may be much slower right before or right after the event. Consider shifting the trip a day or two before or after the big event, so that you can enjoy lower rates.

10. Searching last minute hotel deals with Priceline.com. Priceline.com is a popular hotel search engine that involves bidding for hotel deals in a specific destination. For example, you are trying to find a 4-star hotel in Paris near the Louvre museum and you’re prepared to pay up $130, not a cent more. You enter your desired location and the price you want to pay, and hit search. If they are able to find a 4-star hotel in that specific neighborhood for that price, they would just tell you they found a hotel that fits your requirements and would offer to book that hotel online. The trick though is that they don’t disclose the hotel name, so you don’t really know what you are booking until you have paid with your credit card. Once you have paid, the deal is final and the hotel name is revealed to you.

I did it once, and I would never do it again. The hotel in Paris that they “found” for me was available via other booking sites, and more importantly, one of those sites had a better deal. Even though the price was the same, the other offer also included buffet breakfast and a complimentary river cruise. So, now you are stuck with a deal you can’t cancel, and you know there is a better deal available. I had to connect with the hotel’s booking service via e-mail, explained my situation, and the fact that I knew there was better deals available. They kindly agreed to include the buffet breakfast (€28), but did not offer the complimentary river cruise. The hotel was great, by the way, but it still was a hassle considering all the correspondence and inconvenience.

I do not specifically recommend that you should not do it, obviously lots of people use it, but I would suggest that you start with a very low price you want to pay, and once they have not been able to find anything for that price, move up your bidding by $10 increments. At least that way, you won’t overpay. It doesn’t make any sense to be too generous with your bidding because if the hotel is available, it might be available for a lower price compared to the one you were bidding.

11. When looking for last minute hotel deals consider all options – don’t focus on low budget or cheap hotels only. Quite often, I was able to secure a great deal with a boutique or even a luxury hotel for the same or a bit higher price. For instance, you can book a 2-star hotel in Paris for €100, and at the same time you can book a 4-star hotel for €120. It’s not a huge difference in terms of price, but could be a big difference in terms of experience. Always check out all hotels and double check luxury hotels for any seasonal promotions.

12. Once you have secured your hotel deal and got a reservation confirmation number, don’t forget to connect with the hotel to confirm your booking and ask for an upgrade and lay out any other specific requirements you may have. Most hotels will do their best to accommodate your extra requirements.