How to Bargain Your Way to a Better Vacation

Next time you book a hotel, take comfort in knowing that there may be room to bargain. There’s a chance you can save some money—or at least score a discount—but it means you’ll have to get your nerve up to negotiate.


There’s a whole range of tricks that can help you get upgrades and deals. The key to success? It’s all in the approach, says Clem Bason, president of Hotwire Group.

When checking into a hotel, "first go up and be friendly and chatty, ask how their day is, see how their season is going," Bason says. Then, when they tell you about your room, find out whether they have any other room types available.

Unless the hotel is completely full, there’s a good chance the answer will be yes. Listen to the options and ask, "Is it possible to get a complimentary upgrade on this trip?" Even if the hotel clerk can’t get you into a suite, he may be able to move you into a corner room, or onto a higher floor. Or there may be a room available on a club floor, which often features perks like free printer use and complimentary happy hour.

And if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to negotiate in person, there’s always the phone, although that requires more imagination. For example, you can pretend to be your own assistant, calling to confirm the room reservation. After getting a confirmation, ask to move your "boss" to a higher floor, or for a room upgrade. "It has worked for me every time," Bason says.

Aside from a room upgrade, your best bet for deals is the concierge, who may be able to extend discounts for the restaurant and spa. For example, asking for a restaurant recommendation will likely elicit a response including the onsite restaurant and a few others nearby. Following up with, "They all sound great, but I’d like to stay on-site—are there any discounts available?" may help you score a deal.

If all else fails and your negotiating skills aren’t up to snuff, vacation in a place where bargaining is part of the local culture. That way you’ll already have a leg up and can watch experts in action.

Photo credit: Tempura / iStockPhoto