We get it. Booking a hotel can be a stressful, not to mention pricey, ordeal. And there’s truly nothing worse than getting a room just to find the rate dropped later on, costing you a pretty penny. To avoid more monetary misfortune, we’ve tapped the travel experts to find out exactly when is the worst time to book a hotel.
“Hotel prices actually behave differently than most people think,” says Kevin O’Leary, Senior Analyst at Priceline. “Unlike airline prices, hotel average prices typically decline as the customer gets closer to check-in, as the hotel is looking to fill any empty rooms. There are usually more beds available than customers, which causes prices to come down to entice customers to book.”
Booking a few weeks in advance
According to Priceline data O’Leary shared, hotel rates decrease the most within a week of your check-in date, though you’re not likely to save a fortune. “In comparing the average nightly price of three days before check-in versus booking six weeks before check-in, a customer can save roughly $30 per night,” he says. The cost plummets even more when booking day-of, meaning you could potentially pocket up to $100. Bottom line: The early bird does not get the worm.
Booking the day before check-in
If you’re itching to lock down a room, avoid the trigger finger the day before. HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank tells HuffPost, “On average, same-day hotel rates are 10 percent less than booking the day before.” In fact, the best deals can actually be found mere hours before checking in for the evening. Room rates “typically drop dramatically around 4 p.m.,” Shank says. “If you book at 8 p.m., you can usually save another 5 to 10 percent.”
Of course, booking at the last minute is a gamble. On one hand, you could score the lowest price offered for a hotel room, while on the other, you might end up with no room at all if they have no vacancies! You’re best off booking as soon as you see a price you’re comfortable spending. However, if you’re really worried about missing out on a deal, consider booking a rate with a flexible cancellation policy. That way, you can cancel at the last minute if you find a better price.
When not to travel
For most hotels, room rates aren’t static throughout the year. Seasonality certainly comes into play—unsurprisingly, prices are highest during peak season and lowest during the off-season—while weekends are almost always more expensive than weeknights. And outside of these trends, if there’s a major event in town, hotel rates will go up, even if it’s on a weeknight in the off-season (such as a Tuesday in February).
And for more tricks of the trade, This Is the Best Time to Book Your Hotel Room.
WATCH: Tips for finding a cheap hotel (provided by USA Today)
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