What tips do you have for finding a good hotel rate?
Here are tips from the latest hotel survey by Consumer Reports:
• Wing it. Those in the survey who arrived unannounced paid about $20 less per night for comparable accommodations, on average, than those who made a reservation ahead of time.
• Become a fan. More chains are becoming involved in social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Fans or followers of a chain will be notified of upcoming promotions and specials as soon as they're available.
• Consider a discount-travel Web site. Our survey showed that discount sites such as Priceline and Hotwire were the only surefire way to consistently reap substantially lower room rates.
• Lock in a rate. If you're traveling to a popular destination at a peak time, call around and surf the Internet for price quotes from three to five hotels long before your trip. Then lock in the lowest refundable rate. As your departure date nears, try another sweep. If you find something better, cancel your original reservation in time to avoid a penalty.
• Look for specials. Given the poor economy hotel websites are loaded with limited-time offers. Among those that caught CR's eye: a $100 Amazon.com gift card for every two nights' stay at a Westin; an additional night at half-price for every night you stay at a Sheraton Four Points; and a 15 percent discount when you book at least eight days in advance at Super 8.
For the complete ratings list that includes information on upkeep and service comfort about all 48 chains, money saving advice and tips to avoid hotel fees and traps, visit ConsumerReports.org or check out a copy of the current issue of Consumer Reports.