General Question

Tintels's avatar

What is the optimal time in advance to book hotels online?

Asked by Tintels (123 points ) August 10th, 2011

I would like to get the best discounts. I suppose the answer could vary for high, medium and low season. Incidently I just booked four hotels/resorts in Sardinia about three weeks in advance. There were substantial price reductions on booking.com. Is this the sweet spot? or do discounts increase further if I wait longer?

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1 Answer

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Discount strategies vary from hotel to hotel. More often than not, the cheaper rates are found on the online sites. Here is how it typically works: the hotel staff forecasts what their occupancy will be by seasonality, day of the week, special events in the area, holidays, and past history. When working with these third-party online companies, the hotel guarantees X number of rooms at X rates.

Bigger discounts are sometimes offered when the staff knows that the hotel will not sell out (called ‘putting heads in beds’). If business for a slow period suddenly picks up, some hotels raise their rates, so it’s better to book in advance. Some hotels participate in a ‘best rate’ program that offers a bigger discount if you lock in the dates. The downside is that you have to pay in advance, and if plans change, for whatever reason, no refund is given. The only other way to get a better rate is to call the hotel directly the week or day of arrival and see what rate they quote. If it is lower than what the reservation is for, ask them to honor the lower rate for your stay.

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