There are a few things you ought to know before you book a room for your travel. The hotel can be one of the most expensive parts of your trip, so make sure you don't spend more than you need to on reservations.
- Comparison-shop online. Many hotels offer discounts for online transactions. Sites such as Orbitz.com, HotelDiscounts.com, Hotels.com. Travels.com and Expedia.com have arrangements with thousands of hotels. Name your own price on Priceline.com if your trip dates are set in stone--it offers no refunds.
- Call the hotel directly during its office hours on a workday. That's when you're most likely to find an agent who knows the best deals and packages--and actually has the clout to give them to you.
- Ask whether there are special rates or if a membership (AAA, frequent flier) entitles you to a further discount. Sometimes discounts are available for military or government employees, or even for just using a certain credit card. Those are the kind of deals agents won't normally tell you about.
- Beware of hidden costs. Taxes, surcharges, resort and other incidental fees tacked onto your bill are common and rarely mentioned until you check out. Ask if there are any extra charges on the agreed room rate before you book your reservation: If they are tacked on without your prior approval, refuse to pay.
Important tips for reservation
Understand that hotel room rates vary. To get the best one you will need to spend some time researching and may be able to negotiate price when making reservations.
Decide what kind of hotel you want -- budget, mid-price, chain, luxury, three-four-or-five-star -- where, and what type of location (e.g. near an airport, city center, attraction) before making reservations.
At the hotel's own Web site.you should be able to find the best reservations prices. In theory. And you should also be able to find out the different types and levels of rooms available on the hotel's reservations site.
After you've noted all the different prices for a room at the same hotel, pick up the phone and call the hotel directly. The reservations manager at the locale will have a far better idea of the occupancy level for the dates you want than the hotel's Web site -- and may be able to offer a discount if you can visit during a less-busy time.
Write down the reservations number you are given and put it in a safe place.