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5 Cost-Cutting Hotel Ideas

You can keep hotel costs down--if you know what to look for.

The hotel business has been enjoying increasing demand and rising prices this past year. In fact, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts the rates businesses pay for hotels will rise by an average of 4 percent in 2005 from last year. Here's advice on keeping your hotel tab down.

  • Negotiate volume discounts. If you're staying at a hotel for an extended period, or have several colleagues staying as well, ask for a volume discount. Instead of the reservation desk, deal with the hotel sales director.
  • Ask for extras. If you can't negotiate a decent price break, ask for value-added items, like free breakfast, high-speed internet access or parking.
  • Shop around for freebies. If you're not required to stay in a big downtown convention hotel, check out some newer hotels in the suburbs. You'll find lower rates and all-inclusive prices-many rates include free high-speed internet, local and/or long-distance calls, breakfast and parking. Ask what's included and what's not.
  • Ride the rails. Many large U.S. cities have extensive subway systems that reach well into the suburbs-look for hotels near these stations. This way, you'll avoid steep downtown prices and high parking fees, as well as commuter traffic.
  • Take a chance. Don't care where you stay? Check out Priceline.comor Hotwire.com. Pick the area of the city you want to stay in and the hotel service level. Only after you choose your price (on Hotwire) or make a bid (on Priceline) and submit your credit card number will you know the name of your hotel-and you'll rarely be dissatisfied.

Chris McGinnis, travel correspondent for CNN Headline News, is author ofThe Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.

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