Booking a hotel can be done in many ways – online, through a travel agent, or directly over the phone. But when trying to save money, you may wonder what method would get you the best deal on a hotel room.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: calling the hotel directly is often the cheapest way to book a room.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the pros and cons of booking over the phone versus other methods. You’ll learn key factors like hidden fees, negotiation tactics, and insider tips that can lead to big savings when you pick up the phone to call the hotel.

We’ll also outline the top questions to ask when calling to book a room.

By the end of this 3000 word guide, you’ll have all the details you need to confidently get the lowest price on your next hotel stay.

The Benefits of Booking Directly with a Hotel

Avoid extra booking fees from 3rd parties

When booking a hotel room, it is often tempting to use third-party websites or travel agencies. However, these platforms may charge additional booking fees, which can significantly increase the overall cost of your stay.

By booking directly with the hotel, you can avoid these extra fees and save money in the process. This is especially beneficial for budget-conscious travelers or those looking to get the best value for their money.

Negotiate room rates and packages

Booking directly with a hotel gives you the opportunity to negotiate room rates and packages. While third-party websites usually offer fixed prices, hotels are often more flexible and willing to accommodate special requests.

By speaking directly with hotel staff, you can discuss your needs and preferences and potentially secure a better deal. This personalized approach allows you to tailor your stay according to your specific requirements, ensuring a more enjoyable experience.

Take advantage of special deals for direct bookings

Hotels often offer exclusive deals and promotions for customers who book directly with them. These special offers may include discounted room rates, complimentary upgrades, or added amenities. By bypassing third-party websites, you can access these direct booking benefits and enjoy a more rewarding stay.

Keep an eye out for seasonal promotions or loyalty programs that can further enhance your savings and overall hotel experience.

Make special requests for rooms and amenities

When you book directly with a hotel, you have the opportunity to make special requests for specific rooms or amenities. Whether you prefer a room on a higher floor, need a crib for your baby, or have dietary restrictions that require special meal options, hotels are more likely to accommodate your needs when you book directly with them.

These personalized touches can greatly enhance your overall stay and ensure that your specific requirements are met.

When Calling the Hotel, Ask These Key Questions

What are your current room rates and availability?

When calling a hotel to inquire about room rates and availability, it is crucial to ask this question upfront. By doing so, you can compare the rates with other online booking platforms to ensure you are getting the best deal.

Additionally, asking about availability allows you to plan your travel dates accordingly and secure a room in advance.

Do you offer discounts for AAA, AARP, government employees, or other groups?

Many hotels provide discounts for certain groups such as AAA, AARP, and government employees. It is worth asking if the hotel offers any discounts or special rates for these groups. By taking advantage of these discounts, you can save a significant amount of money on your hotel stay.

Are there any packages or deals for booking multiple nights?

If you are planning to stay at the hotel for multiple nights, it is worth asking if they offer any packages or deals for extended stays. Some hotels may provide discounted rates or additional amenities for guests who book multiple nights.

By inquiring about these options, you can potentially save money and enhance your overall experience.

Do you provide discounts for early booking or advance payment?

Booking your hotel room in advance or making an early payment can sometimes result in additional discounts. It’s a good idea to ask the hotel if they offer any special rates for early bookings or if they provide discounts for making advance payments.

This way, you can take advantage of any available savings and secure your room well in advance.

Are there any extra resort fees or charges not included in the room rate?

Before finalizing your hotel booking, it’s essential to inquire about any additional resort fees or charges that may not be included in the room rate. Some hotels charge additional fees for amenities such as Wi-Fi, parking, or access to certain facilities.

By asking this question, you can avoid any surprises and budget accordingly.

Tips for Negotiating the Best Rate Over the Phone

Be flexible with travel dates if possible

When booking a hotel room over the phone, it can be beneficial to be flexible with your travel dates. By being open to different check-in and check-out dates, you can increase your chances of getting a better rate.

Hotel occupancy rates fluctuate throughout the year, and certain days may have lower demand, resulting in lower prices. The hotel representative on the phone may be able to offer you a discounted rate if you are willing to adjust your travel dates.

Book early for the lowest prices

Booking your hotel room well in advance can often lead to lower prices. Hotels typically offer their best rates to customers who book early. By calling to make your reservation ahead of time, you may be able to secure a better deal compared to last-minute bookings.

This is especially true during peak travel seasons or popular events when hotel rooms are in high demand.

Mention membership rates you may qualify for

If you are a member of any organizations or have loyalty program memberships, it is worth mentioning these to the hotel representative over the phone. Many hotels offer special rates and discounts for members of specific groups, such as AAA, AARP, or military personnel.

By providing this information, you might be eligible for a lower rate that is not advertised to the general public.

Ask about unadvertised promotions

Hotels often run promotions and special offers that may not be advertised on their website or other booking platforms. When speaking with a hotel representative on the phone, don’t hesitate to inquire about any current promotions that might be available.

They may have exclusive deals or packages that can save you money on your stay.

Politely make a rate request lower than advertised prices

When negotiating the rate over the phone, it is worth politely asking if there are any discounts or lower rates available. While the hotel might not always be able to accommodate your request, there have been instances where customers have successfully negotiated a lower rate by simply asking.

Remember to be respectful and friendly during the conversation, as the hotel representative is more likely to be helpful if you approach the request in a positive manner.

Keep in mind that the success of negotiating a better rate over the phone can vary depending on various factors, such as the hotel’s current occupancy, availability of rooms, and the specific policies of the hotel.

It is always recommended to compare prices online and check for any ongoing promotions or deals before making a final decision.

When Booking Online May be Cheaper

While booking a hotel room over the phone can be convenient, there are certain situations where booking online may actually be cheaper. Here are some scenarios where you might want to consider booking online:

During high demand travel seasons

During popular travel seasons, such as holidays or major events, hotels tend to fill up quickly and prices can skyrocket. Booking online allows you to easily compare prices across multiple hotels and find the best deal.

Additionally, many online travel agencies offer special promotions and discounts during these peak seasons, making it even more cost-effective to book online.

For prepaid nonrefundable rates on sites like Expedia

Online travel sites like Expedia often offer prepaid nonrefundable rates for hotel bookings. While these rates typically require full payment upfront and are nonrefundable, they can be significantly cheaper than booking directly with the hotel or over the phone.

If you are certain about your travel plans and don’t anticipate any changes or cancellations, these prepaid rates can be a great way to save money.

If you need to easily compare many hotels in an area

When you’re looking for a hotel in a specific area, online booking platforms allow you to easily compare multiple hotels side by side. You can see the different amenities, room types, and prices all in one place, making it much easier to make an informed decision.

This convenience can save you time and help you find the best value for your money.

For big chain hotels that won’t negotiate rates

Some big chain hotels have strict policies when it comes to negotiating rates over the phone. They may have set prices that they do not deviate from, making it difficult to get a better deal. Online booking platforms, on the other hand, often have partnerships with these chain hotels and can offer discounted rates that are not available over the phone.

So, if you’re looking for a deal at a big chain hotel, booking online may be your best bet.

Using discounted gift cards for online bookings

If you have access to discounted gift cards for online travel agencies or hotel booking platforms, you can save even more money by booking online. These gift cards can be purchased at a lower price than their face value, allowing you to get a discount on your hotel booking.

Just make sure to read the terms and conditions to ensure that the gift card can be used for the specific online platform you’re planning to book with.

Other Considerations When Booking Direct

Review cancellation and change policies

When booking a hotel room over the phone, it is important to review the cancellation and change policies. Some hotels may have strict policies that can incur fees or penalties if you need to make any adjustments to your reservation.

Make sure to ask about these policies and understand the terms before finalizing your booking. It’s always better to be aware of any potential charges upfront to avoid any surprises later on.

Clarify what amenities are included

Another consideration when booking a hotel room over the phone is to clarify what amenities are included in your reservation. While most hotels offer basic amenities such as toiletries and Wi-Fi, there may be additional amenities that are not automatically included.

For example, some hotels may charge extra for access to the gym, spa, or breakfast. By asking about these amenities during the booking process, you can make an informed decision and avoid any unexpected charges.

Ask about room location requests

If you have specific preferences for your room location, such as a higher floor or a room away from the elevator, it’s important to ask about these requests when booking over the phone. While some hotels may not be able to guarantee specific room locations, they may still be able to accommodate your preferences based on availability.

It’s always worth asking to ensure a comfortable stay.

Inquire about early check-in/late checkout options

Booking a hotel room over the phone also gives you the opportunity to inquire about early check-in or late checkout options. Depending on the hotel’s policies and availability, they may be able to accommodate your request without any additional charges.

This can be especially helpful if you have an early morning arrival or a late departure and want to make the most of your time at the hotel.

See if deposits or prepayment is required

Lastly, it’s important to inquire about whether the hotel requires any deposits or prepayment when booking over the phone. Some hotels may require a deposit upfront or even require full prepayment for your stay.

By asking about these requirements, you can plan your budget accordingly and make sure you have the necessary funds available.

Remember, each hotel may have different policies and procedures when it comes to booking a room over the phone. It’s important to ask these questions upfront to avoid any misunderstandings or surprises.

By taking the time to clarify these considerations, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay at your chosen hotel.


At the end of the day, booking directly over the phone can lead to big savings, but it requires more effort than booking online. By knowing when to call the hotel and what questions to ask, you can often get the best price and ideal room for your situation.

While online booking can provide ease and convenience, don’t rule out calling the hotel directly as part of your research.

We hope this comprehensive guide gave you the tips and strategies you need to get a great deal on your next hotel stay, whether you book by phone or online. With flexibility and smart preparation, you can become a savvy hotel booker and stretch your travel budget even further.

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