NEW YORK – Summer vacationers looking for deals on hotel rooms are going to have to search a little harder.
The average cost of a room now stands at $110, up 4 percent from last year and 8 percent from two years ago, according to travel research company STR.
But that doesn’t mean that hotel stays need to break the bank. Here are some tips to save on your family’s summer lodging:
Consider the extras
Booking a hotel isn’t as simple as just looking at the rate and taxes. Some hotels include Wi-Fi, breakfast, bottled water and parking. Others add on hefty fees for some or all of the above. Then there are those dreaded resort fees. They were once just levied at resorts or Las Vegas casinos, but today hotels in big cities are adding on the charge. Most hotels disclose the fees on their websites, but you often have to hunt around to find them.
Kitchens, laundry and privacy
These amenities won’t directly save you on the room rate, but can make your vacation cheaper. If you are a large family, you might want to prepare a few meals in your room.
To avoid getting two rooms, but still have some privacy, consider a chain like Hilton’s Embassy Suites, which offers parents their own room and a pull-out sofa in the living room for the kids.
Many hotels let you cancel up to 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. the day of check-in. Read the fine print and then use that to your advantage. Hotel rates are constantly changing. Reserve at a fully refundable rate, and consider that the most you will need to pay for your lodging. Then, watch the price. If it falls, rebook at the new, lower rate.
You have until 4 p.m. to cancel that hotel, right? Well, a handful of new services are offering deals for people checking into hotels that night.
HotelTonight offers discounted rooms at more than 10,000 hotels via its iPhone and Androids apps. Each day at 9 a.m. local time, a slate of rooms is released for each of the big cities it serves.
HotelTonight users can’t request room types, so it is best used by solo travelers or couples.
Priceline has also jumped into the same-day hotel sale frenzy. Offers start to post at 11 a.m.
Last Minute Travel recently launched a new mobile app that allows hotels to be booked at any time in advance of your trip.
Hotels know that some people cancel and rebook at a lower rate.
That leads to lots of uncertainty for them about how many guests will actually show up on a given night. To get a better sense of their future business, hotels offer discounted rates to travelers willing to lock in that rate in exchange for giving up the ability to cancel.
If you are a member of AAA, a professional group or even your employer, inquire about a discount. Most hotels offer one, though you sometimes need to hunt around to find it online.