FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – If you haven’t started planning your summer vacation yet, there’s still plenty of time to do it and plenty of ways to save on a place to lay your head. While hotel prices continue to creep up slightly (the average hotel price increased by 5% over the past year), they are still not back to pre-recession levels.
According to Hotels.com Chief Marketing Officer Nigel Pocklington, the average U.S. hotel room is selling for $127 a night. But he says there is no need to pay that much for a place to stay and he shares some secrets on how to save up to 50% on hotel stays.
WATCH: MORE HOTEL DEAL SECRETS FROM HOTELS.COM
If you don’t have your heart set on staying at any particular place, it can add up to big savings.
“I think if you are really flexible, then last-minute booking makes a lot of sense because that is when the hotels have a good feeling for whether they are going to be full or not,” says Pocklington. If they are not looking that full or if they want to get some more people in there, they are going to do something a bit more extraordinary to get your business.
Pocklington says hotels offer major deals – as much as half off – through mobile apps aimed at getting customers to book rooms for that day or the next. “If you are looking for the big money off deals, those are the ones that are going to be coming last minute.”
When you travel may be as important as where you travel when it comes to saving money. Pocklington says business destinations like Manhattan and Washington D.C. will tend to offer their best deals on the weekends, when hotels are not full of full-price paying business customers.
Meanwhile, day of the week is less important for tourist destinations like Las Vegas or Orlando. But the time of year can make a big difference in the price you will pay for a hotel room. If you can stand the heat, Vegas boasts great deals during the summer months, with some three-star properties on the Strip running as low as $19 per night. There are great deals to be had in Orlando from the middle of August through the end of September, between Thanksgiving and Christmas and finally right after New Year’s Day. Three-star properties close to the amusement parks will sell for as low as $69 during these off-peak times.
During peak travel times, keep an eye out for sales, Pocklington suggests. As July 4th gets closer, Hotels.com is launching a 30% sale where rooms in popular destinations like New Orleans, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta, even Hawaii, will sell for less than $100 a night.
Finally, don’t get too starry-eyed when booking your hotel.
“Star ratings are not always a perfect guide,” says Pocklington. “You see a lot of people definitely wanting to book a four-star hotel when actually some three stars may only have a three star because they don’t have the extra facility in their gym. If you don’t want that then why spend the extra money?”
On the other hand, don’t assume a five-star hotel is always out of your price range. Pocklington says it really does depend on where you want to go.
“You can stay five-star for under $300 in a lot of Mexican destinations, Washington DC, Seattle, Vegas, Orlando. There are destinations where five-star needn’t cost you the earth.”
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