Five Strategies for a Better Hotel Rate

Small-business owners making their own travel plans can have a hard time finding deals. These tips can help.

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Large companies have a plethora of ways to minimize travel costs. But if you have a small business and need to plan a trip on your own, it can be hard to get the best rates. Recently, Consumer Reports came to the rescue with some specific suggestions for saving money when you book a hotel stay. Here’s the best of their recommendations:

Haggling still works. Consumer Reports contends that when you try to negotiate for a better rate, it works 80% of the time. For the best results, don’t call the 800 number; instead, call the location you want to stay at directly.

Go nonrefundable. The badly named “corporate deal” (which anyone can get) is rarely the best price. Instead, ask what the cheapest nonrefundable rate is -- though beware that it is, in fact, nonrefundable.

Loyalty pays. If you travel a lot, investigate the loyalty program for the chain you stay with most frequently. Loyalty programs pay out room upgrades, complementary nights, airline miles, and more.

Lock in your rate early. If you are traveling to a popular seasonal destination, lock in the rate as early as you can to get a better deal. Consumer Reports suggests getting quotes from several hotels, then lock in the lowest refundable rate. Later, check prices again. If you find a better deal, cancel the original reservation.

Be a fan. If you follow hotel chains on Facebook and Twitter, you can get early notifications of special deals.

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