Hotel rates are constantly increasing. However, just because a hotel is quoting a certain rate doesn’t mean you have to pay it. Most hotels would rather rent empty rooms at a lower rate then leave them idle making no money at all.
Be prepared to negotiate. Call the first hotel on your list and ask to speak to someone in guest relations. If there is no guest relations person, ask for the hotel manager. Be sure to ask the receptionist for the name of the person to whom you are about to be connected. Jot the name down on your list. Greet the guest relations representative or manager by name. Introduce yourself and explain that you are coming to the area and have heard great things about the hotel and would love to stay there. If there is something special about the hotel, such as a rooftop pool or a great pub, mention it.
Who are you? Don’t assume hotels know. Provide details on your company and your attendees to show why you (and they) are worth the effort, especially rooming and spending data from previous years.
Inquire about corporate and promotional rates available. Let them know if the rate they have given you is still too high and give them the chance to find a way to lower it for you.
Ask if the hotel offers a media rate. If you work in any capacity for a radio station, a television station, a newspaper or magazine, you will qualify, although you might need a business card or some kind of business identification. Not all hotels recognize this rate, but it is usually the same as the government rate.
Don’t Accept First Offers The manager is just looking to see if you will agree to the price. Your response to any first offer should be “Can’t you do better than that. Most of the other hotels we went to offered the hospitality suite for our class reunion for free”. First offers should simply be treated as a starting point of negotiations, not a point of fact. Never accept a first offer from a hotel.
Don’t just book hotel rooms online. Try using the phone – sometimes you can get a very nice rate by just talking to someone.
Don’t Answer This Question “What is your budget?” is a question that hotel sales managers are trained to ask to find out how much you are willing to spend. Often, the number you give as your “budget” ends up becoming the starting point of negotiations, leaving you at a severe disadvantage. When asked this question, answer with “We are still developing a budget so I can’t answer that right now”. Doing this will deflect the question without offending the other party.
In order for negotiation to be successful, you need to have two sides that come and meet on common ground and come to a win-win solution.
Take advantage of last-minute specials. If your travel plans are flexible, you could get a great rate by waiting to book your hotel until the last minute. Hotel managers are often willing to lower their rates to fill their last remaining rooms.
Ask for Upgrade. When you get a rate you like, ask for an upgrade, free breakfast, Free Wi-Fi or another added value*. When you finalize the deal, note the rate code, confirmation number, and agent’s name in case you are charged a different rate when you arrive. *Ask about such things as parking discounts, meeting room discounts, or even laundry service. There are a lot of things that can get thrown in to the mix that can have a major impact on your bottom line.
Negotiate “bulk” rate. If you have many employees who frequently visit a city, try to negotiate a contracted “bulk” rate that gives all your business to one hotel in return for discounts.
Sign up for the hotel’s preferred customer program. If you travel frequently for your business sign up for the hotel’s preferred customer program. Most hotels will offer frequent customers an incentive, such as a free room after a certain number of paid nights.