Chapter 13 : How to Get the Cheapest
When you get off the bus in the Andean Mountain resort town
of Banos, Ecuador, you'll see several people quickly moving towards
you. Some of them will be the actual owners of the hotels in
town, and others are working on commission. They'll all claim
to have the nicest and the cheapest hotel.
This onslaught of salesmen may annoy you at first, until you
realize what it means. There are vacant rooms tonight, and there
is real competition! They have tipped their hands, and you are
in charge now. Let the contest begin!
When my wife and I were in Banos recently, we let an older
woman drag us off from the bus station. She showed us two hotels
she owned, and we preferred the second. We were told the room
would be $12. It was clean, with cable T.V. and lots of hot water.
We offered $6 per night, paying for four nights in advance. She
The lesson is clear if you want the cheapest hotel room: Negotiate!
The owner knew we were ready to walk away, and that there were
others waiting for our business.
Unfortunately, most owners here in the U.S. would rather let
you drive away than knock five bucks off the room rate. Even
here, however, we have negotiated decent discounts by paying
for several nights in advance. Of course we let them know that
we'll be looking elsewhere if they say no.
The Internet Sites
You can use web sites, such as Cheap Tickets.com to find cheaper
hotel rooms. However, they only give you rates for the hotels
and motels that are in their system. For example, I just did
a search for Tucson, Arizona. Cheap Tickets.com was the easiest
site to use, and found the best rates of the sites I tried. However,
I could show you several nice motels here inTucson that are $15
cheaper than the cheapest rate they found.
In other words, these sites are convenient, and worth using
when you have nothing else, but they will never show you all
your options. Here are some other ways to get cheap rooms.
Freeway Coupon Books
Get coupon books at gas stations along the highways. We've
almost always found good deals using these. It's rare that a
manager won't honor the coupon. Generally, only if they're absolutely
full will they refuse. Read the fine print, though. They often
charge more for certain dates, or for two people.
Use the "Magic Words"
There are promotions done where if you "mention this
ad" or just use the right words, you get up to 70% discount.
Talk, talk, talk. Tell them if you're a member of the AARP, AAA
or whatever. Tell the person on the phone that you saw an ad
in the "Times," or whatever big paper they might have
Get the receptionist to help you. Try asking what the magic
words are. Some receptionists will tell you. You might also ask
"What do I have to say to get the cheapest rate?" They
will sometimes tell you, or suggest other options.
Call the Hotel Directly
The reservation services used by many hotels may not have
the authority to offer the lowest rates. Ask for the number of
the hotel and call directly. You might get a good discount if
they are not too full.
Try Hotel Room Brokers
There are brokers that book rooms by the hundreds around the
country. Due to their volume, they get the rooms at a steep discount.
They can often pass on a good chunk of that savings to you. Try
www.accommodationsexpress.com, or www.hotels.com, or www.quickbook.com.
Secret to Getting Better Hotel Rooms
Hotels will sometimes try to get rid of their worst rooms
first. That way, if they have complaints they can deal with them
before the hotel is full. How do you avoid being given a sub-standard
room? Here are two ways.
First, ask for a specific room or type of room when you check
in. For example, you can ask for a room on the first floor, or
near the elevator, or with a view - think of some feature you'll
actually appreciate. This lessons the odds that you'll be given
an undesirable room.
Second, if you do get a room that has a problem, call the
desk right away. Ask for a different room and explain why you
think you should get one. If a new room isn't possible, ask for
a discount, a meal voucher, or some compensation for the undesirable
Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once
existed between man and the universe. - Anatole France
Continue with Chapter 14 here: Boondocking
Note: This chapter on cheap accommodations was part
of the e-book Travel Secrets. Now all chapters are free
on this site. See the homepage (the link is at the bottom of
this page) for a list of all chapters and links to them.