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Chapter 13 : How to Get the Cheapest Room

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 agreed.

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 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 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 advertised in.

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, or, or

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 room.

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.

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Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations

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