If you have a particular hotel in mind, call them directly. Calling the hotel directly often results in better deals. The fact that you are speaking with someone in real-time, the hotel staff will often be privy to rates that are not advertised online or may tell you what is causing the price to shoot up, like conferences or concerts. If there is an event that is causing the price to skyrocket, search for hotels away from the event location or city center to find lower rates.
When you call the hotel, don’t call 800 number or their toll free line to the chain’s headquarter. By calling them you will just be routed through central reservation system and end up speaking to someone who is not onsite at the property. You need to talk to someone who is authorized to make decisions—this won’t happen in a reservation call center.
When you call a hotel directly, don’t hesitate to negotiate the price. Hotels with vacancies are often willing to negotiate to fill their rooms. While negotiating, don’t be afraid to ask for free internet, breakfast, workout facility or parking. Hotel managers would like to make a little less from the occupied room than leave it empty for the night and make nothing.
There is another advantage of calling the hotel directly rather than through an online hotel reservation website. A hotel has all the access to the inventory in the property. While booking directly may not always land you the best price, it certainly increases your chance to score a room upgrade. Since you have directly called the hotel and made your reservation, they get a bigger portion of your booking. Moreover it also passes out the signal to the hotel that the guest has specifically sought out this property in particular instead of simply stumbling upon while searching through some online hotel booking aggregator. You automatically become their most valuable customer. So check their number online and call and negotiate. In fact many big hotels like IHG are running “book direct” initiative to guarantee best prices to customers who book directly. They are even willing to cater to especial request when reserved directly with them.
Many hotel chains offer loyalty program. If the hotel has a loyalty program, join them. Hotels are known to upgrade people just to make them join the loyalty program. The best time to try this is at the time of check-in. If you don’t get any upgrade, you are at least earning points.