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Five Tips On Getting The Best Hotel Room For Your Money

AP Photo/Millennium Hotels and Resort

One of the most intimating parts about travel is booking the hotel. So many choices — where to begin, and how to find a deal?

Follow these five easy steps, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

1. Book Early

It's true what they say about early birds. Brumley suggests finding a room using booking sites like Kayak, Expedia and “a couple weeks in advance.”

2. Set Up A Price Alert

Once you’ve booked your room, be sure to set up a price alert on your reservation. That way, you’ll get notified if the price drops.

“And when it drops, I’ll just contact the outfit,” said Brumley, “and they’ll always match it.”

3. Call The Hotel After You’ve Booked

Another way to find a deal is to book the room through a third-party site, then call the hotel directly to see if the hotel can beat the price. (Don’t worry, most sites have a 48-hour cancellation policy.)

Brumley says hotels are surprisingly willing to haggle.

“Because chances are these hotels are giving 10 to 25 percent commission to outfits like Expedia and Kayak, and,” Brumley said.

4. Call The Hotel On The Day Of Your Arrival

Call the hotel on the day you’re due to arrive — around noon, when people are checking out. Ask if you can get a free upgrade. If it’s a special occasion, mention that, too.

“Just be very sweet and very polite,” said Brumley. “And 90 percent of the time, they’ll do it for you. It doesn’t cost them anything, especially if the hotel’s not full.”

5. Ask Again In Person — And Add An Incentive!

It doesn’t hurt to ask again for an upgrade in person, says Brumley. You never know if the hotel is sitting on empty rooms.

And a tip for the front desk staff never hurts, either.

“I always bring chocolates for the ladies at the front desk at Havana,” Brumley said. “They’ll upgrade our rooms and make sure everybody has a seaview just for a box of chocolates.”

If you think about it, you tip the person who brings in your luggage and you tip the person who cleans your room, but nobody ever thinks about gratuity for the front desk staff.

“Usually people at the front desk are underpaid or making minimum wage. So if they’re tipped $10 or $20 for a suite, they’ll give it to you. And oddly enough, people at the front desk have a tremendous amount of power,” said Brumley. “To me, they’re the most important people in the hotel.”


Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which organizes group travel to destinations around the world for various clients, including KPLU. "Going Places" is our new travel segment exploring all aspects of getting from Point A to Point B. Tell us what you think about responsible travel, or suggest topics for future installations of this series. Have a travel hangup or a tip? Let us know in the comments.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.