Best time to book hotels for cheap rate

The Best Time to Book Hotels for Cheap Rates

For many of us, where we stay during our vacations can be an incredible cultural, luxurious, or relaxing experience, while other times accommodations can completely detract from a trip.

When it comes to a factor this important to achieving your perfect vacation, it’s hard to know if you’re doing it right, when is the most affordable time to buy, and if you’re getting a good deal.

As a general disclaimer, there’s no hard set of rules to guarantee when hotel bookings will be cheapest, but there are a few guidelines you can follow to increase your likelihood of finding the best deal. 

The process for obtaining cheap hotel rooms is vastly different than when searching for airline tickets. Since there are more options for hotels than flights, the traditional rules of supply and demand change the booking process.

Limited seating on an airline gets increasingly more coveted as time goes on, therefore prices skyrocket closer to the departure time. Hotels, however, are more plentiful and have greater competition so as time dwindles, prices typically do as well.

Most hotels view an occupied room as better than not. So, when is the best time to book a hotel room?

When to Book 

When to book your hotel to get cheap rate?

Surprisingly enough, data from multiple hotel and travel sites indicates that uprooting the best deals for hotel accommodations is generally through last-minute bookings. HotelTonight’s CEO and co-founder, Sam Shank, noted that the best deals are typically same-day bookings.

Shank found, “On average, same-day hotel rates are 10% less than booking the day before and then typically drop dramatically around 4 p.m…If you book at 8 p.m., you can usually save another 5-10%.”

Further proving Shank’s report, both Priceline and Kayak have done recent data analysis studies and found similar results. Priceline’s findings looked at star rated hotels across California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Massachusetts over a year.

The results showed that in all states last-minute bookings were regularly less expensive than booking in advance, specifically booking one day prior. 

Kayak’s Global Hotel Study (2018) found that waiting to book domestic hotels (United States) until one to three days before arrival can save between $15-20 per night. For international hotels, booking as little as six days ahead can save around $6. Apparently, procrastinating can be a good thing sometimes!

Additionally, Kayak’s study found that the day of the week you’re researching hotels can impact the deals you find. The peak searching times and most expensive time to book hotel accommodation was found to be Monday through Wednesday.

The closer to the weekend you book, the more likely you’ll find cheaper rooms. Specifically, Kayak found that there’s 23-30% fewer people searching for hotel rooms on weekends, which consequentially lowers prices. 

When to Stay

If you have flexibility on what dates you can check-in and check-out of a hotel, you can find significantly cheaper rooms depending on the day of the week.

Checking-in on a Friday or Saturday is found to be the most expensive to book, which is not surprising since it’s the peak time for other travelers hitting the road. Alternatively, checking in on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday is the cheapest.

If your schedule allows, midweek travel will typically be full of money-saving possibilities for you.

In addition to traveling outside of peak travel times during the week, it also always saves money if you can travel during a country or region’s shoulder seasons.

During shoulder seasons, there are less tourists and deals on hotel accommodation can be found on any day of the week. As an added bonus, there’s opportunity to find availability in the most popular, luxurious hotels for a fraction of the cost. It pays to go when others don’t! 

General Advice

It’s understandable if you read these tips and are still feeling hesitant to wait on last-minute bookings, potentially ending up without a place to stay.

It’s always a good idea to book a refundable hotel ahead of time when you’re purchasing airfare (make sure to check the fine print on the hotel’s refund rules). Then, check prices of hotels about one week or less before your trip departure.

If prices are more desirable, you can always cancel your original refundable hotel and enjoy your savings with your new hotel.

Since this is general advice based off of data that is typical of the market and what you can likely expect as a consumer, there are a few disclaimers to consider before booking last-minute hotel accommodation.

It’s always important to do your research when going to a popular city or to ensure there’s not an event or holiday in the area you’re looking to stay.

Whenever there is an event or holiday, hotels are booked early and remaining options continue to get more and more expensive as the date approaches. In these cases, always book as early as possible.

Additionally, if you’re traveling in a larger group, require specific needs, or have a schedule that doesn’t allow for the flexibility of last minute bookings, it’s recommended to book early.

The extra money you’ll spend by booking in advance is well worth eliminating worry and feeling secure knowing you have a place to spend the night.

Wrapping It Up

In the end, flexibility is the true guarantee to securing the cheapest options for hotel rooms, but that doesn’t mean good deals are out of reach if that’s not an option for you.

Do your research on where you’re traveling, book a refundable hotel, then compare hotel prices in the last week and couple days before your departure.

Following the advice in this article should guide you to finding some of the best deals possible for hotel bookings for your next vacation.

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