If the listed price of a hotel room is scaring you off, don't call it quits – you might be able to negotiate the cost. Depending on the time of year, the hotel company and a few other determining factors, it may be possible to phone the hotel and bargain for a better price for your stay. It's all a matter of knowing when to travel, which types of hotels to target and how to handle the conversation when you make that call.
Time Your Travels
To have leverage with your hotel of choice, the hotel has to feel like it needs you more than you need it. So, if you're trying to negotiate hotel prices at a time of year when loads of tourists are clamoring for accommodation, you probably won't have much luck, because the hotel will have no problem finding someone willing to pay the listed price. On the other hand, if you're traveling at a time of year when hotels are struggling to fill beds, you should have the upper hand in negotiations.
Schedule your trip for the low season in order to score the best deals on hotel rooms. Do some homework on your destination to learn when people tend to travel there most often. In most places, tourist season peaks around Easter, Christmas, New Year's Day and in the summer months. If you book outside these times, you'll have an easier time negotiating.
Choosing a Hotel
Start by asking around. If your friends or family members have been able to successfully negotiate prices with a particular hotel in the past, chances are you should be able to do the same. Try to get the name of the front desk agent or manager who spoke with your friend, and ask to talk to that person when you give the hotel a ring.
More often than not, chain hotels won't want to budge on their room rates regardless of the season. Opt instead for privately owned properties, such as small boutique hotels, whose managers will be more open to price negotiations.
Making the Call
Give yourself plenty of time by contacting the hotel as soon as your travel dates are set. Call and ask to speak with a manager, and if a friend referred you to that hotel or hotelier, make sure to mention that their establishment was recommended and that your friend sang their praises.
Let the manager know your travel dates, and ask if the hotel has availability during that time. If so, ask for a quote on a room rate. The first quote you get will most likely be for a top-priced room, so try to work the number down from there, asking politely if there's a possibility of having that room at a lower rate since you're booking directly through the hotel. If the manager is willing to negotiate the price of that room, roll with it. If not, continue inquiring about other rooms that might be available at a discounted rate. Make sure you know the hotel's published rates, so you can ask if those rates are the best they have to offer.
If you have no luck getting discounted rates, see whether you can get some amenities – breakfast, spa services or alcohol, for example – included in the quoted rate. Either way, keep your tone respectful and professional throughout the conversation.