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This past Black Friday/Cyber Monday I noticed a bunch of hotels in major cities (and took advantage for a couple of upcoming vacations through the first half of next year). I'm curious now how often do hotels run deals on discounted rates in case I wanted to book later into next year as well, and generally when is the best time to book such in advance of a planned vacation to a certain destination?

(This is more for major cities like NYC, SF, Seattle, etc. but any advice on this would be welcome)

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  • These days most hotel promotions are smoke and mirrors or clickbait anyway. Hotels deploy dynamic pricing based on supply and demand and prices can vary drastically from one day to another. I've seen the price for a dinky Holiday Inn in the outskirts of Boston shoot up to over $1500/night which is more than 12 times higher than the "normal" price.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 17, 2022 at 11:45

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There are two separate things here: when the hotels run promotions, and what dates and which hotels are eligible for the promotions.

When promotional campaigns run is, in my experience, nearly random. This is on purpose: if the timing of the campaign was predictable, people would wait until the campaign to book discounted travel, which would cause the hotels to earn less money! There are some exceptions that do run to a schedule, like IHG PointBreaks, but these are severely limited to a small set of hotels that changes every time, meaning you can never really rely on them for planned travel. Which brings me to the second point:

The selection of what hotels are available when, on the other hand, is not random at all. Promotional campaigns are designed to incentivise spontaneous travel and to capture market share from competitors for business travel, so they target places in the off-season where there's plenty of free rooms chasing business: some revenue is still better than no revenue. But if it's New Year's Eve in Sydney, spring break in Palm Beach etc, forget it, every hotel will be booked anyway so there will be no promotional rates to be had, no matter how long you wait.

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