The best hotel rates (for most chains and properties) are usually accompanied by a special rate code. You never know where you will find that rate code so keep your options open. I consider the AAA rate as my baseline amount and try to find lower rates than that.
Recently, I was looking up college football 2010 schedules. On the website with the University of Miami schedule, there is a link to "travel and leisure partners." I clicked the link and checked out some of the hotels. One of the offerings is the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove. I looked at sample rates for a weekend in October. Here are the results:
$189 - University of Miami rate
$269 - AAA rate
$299 - regular rate (corporate rate)
$299 - hotels.com (Best Rate Guaranteed, ha!)
I would check a few other online booking sites, but, in this case, I would also call the headquarters (800-542-8680) and the property directly (305-644-4680) to see if they have any weekend specials, visitor rates, etc. (I love to find discounts).
Just spending a couple of minutes (and knowing the secret, negotiated code) saved me $110 PER NIGHT (or $80 per night off my AAA baseline rate). Places to find these magic codes include FlyerTalk.com, magazines, e-mail subscriptions, your company's HR department, and so on. Any other suggestions?
Happy travels. Incorporate this strategy into your travel skill arsenal and save big money on lodging this summer.
©2010, Charles McCool