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When living and traveling in Mexico, I became quite accustomed to asking for discounts in many situations: At the market, at the car wash, and at hotels. I was usually successful in getting a lower price.

I've heard of people doing this in the U.S. at hotels as well. I've never had the nerve in my home culture of set prices for everything.

So, for those who have had success negotiating lower prices at hotels in the U.S. (or other cultures where practically everything (except cars?) has a set price), how is it done?

Are certain chains more likely to negotiate? Am I likely to have better results at full-price, or budget-price hotels? Am I likely to have better results at a certain time of day?

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5 Answers 5

You can always try to ask at the reception if you could get a discount :)

However, the only way I managed to successfully get a lower price for a room in "developed" countries was to use Wifi in the hotel lobby (or a nearby internet cafe) and book a room online - often for less than half the advertised price. This was actually once suggested by one of the hotel employees in Hong Kong, when we tried to extend our stay at the hotel. He said he could not match the Internet prices.

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It never hurts to ask at check-in! The best way to phrase it is to ask if there are any better rates available than the one you've already booked. Many staff will normally just say no, or will say that they can't change your rate (often true due to cancellation policies/etc) - but I've been successful at least a few times.

For the most part the best way to get discounts at hotels in the US is to try and get a "corporate" discount. These are prearranged discounts companies have with specific chains that will normally give a discounted price and/or special conditions (free breakfast, free parking, etc).

If you work for a large company you may find that they have such deals with at least one chain, and in many cases these discounts can be used for leisure travel as well as business travel. There are also a number of membership-based organizations that offer similar discounts, such as AAA, USAA, or even Costco! In theory you will need to show proof of membership at check-in, but in practice that rarely happens. Sometimes there will be a check-box on the booking website for these (especially for AAA). Otherwise you need to get a code from the organization, and/or book via their website (eg, Costco travel).

Otherwise you can try calling the hotel and seeing if they will offer a cheaper rate. In general the answer will be no unless there are special circumstances (eg, if you're booking more than about 4 rooms you can probably arrange a discount) - but it never hurts to ask! Make sure that you call the actual hotel themselves, and not their central reservations department who will not be able to offer you anything special.

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What you can do is you look around on TripAdvisor, booking.com and hotels.com for the best rate you can find in your city. Then you take this rate and check the websites of competing chains, and look for the best-price guarantee. Wyndham hotel group (owns most of the hotel chains you see on northern america - super8, daysin, travellodge, ...) offers a 10% discount based on the best rate you could find; but it must be the same type of room.

If you are traveling by car, you might be better off looking at hotels and guesthouses a few miles further away from the interstate and highways. All the Hotels you can see from the highway usually belong to Wyndham hotel group, and prices are about the same.

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Ten years ago, I was successful getting 5% off for a hotel room in Prague, without asking anything. I happened to book directly to the hotel instead of using the official city-wide system of hotel booking.

Two years ago, the reverse was true for a hotel in Lyon, France. I booked directly to the hotel. Then I checked on booking.com and the price was lower on that web site.

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I had success booking late (same day as moving in) with privately owned hotels in Europe. Success means prices below those advertised online.

I think with chains I never got a discount when asking at the counter or by phone. Furthermore, as @Grzenio said, some hotels don't even offer a price as low as online over the counter.

By the way, there are also hotels that never discount at all, for example Brenner's Park Hotel in Baden-Baden, or so I've heard (not my price class anyhow - I book cheap, couch surf, etc.).

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