Can I beat priceline?
September 4, 2011 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Negotiating a chain hotel room for a longish stay... Possible?

Has anybody ever negotiated a better rate just for themselves at a US chain hotel? For an upcoming trip to the greater Boston area, I found an ideal location for my family and want to book a suite for ten days. Since it's a longer stay and an already high priced room I feel like it might be possible to get a discount.

The kicker is that I am typically terrible at this kind of thing and usually just pay full price to avoid potential conflict. I've negotiated at little places in the third world where this kind of thing is expected, but never in my own neck of the woods.

Is this sort of thing possible? And if so, what do I say/do to maximize my chance of success?
posted by rouftop to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Our business sends a fax to chain hotels in the towns where we regularly travel, asking for a bid for hotel rooms when we're in town. They fax a bid back to us with their price, and we pick the one we want. I rarely pay more than 60% of advertised price. I would think you could do the same for your 10-day stay.
posted by summerstorm at 9:49 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Many lower-end chains have reduced weekly prices. I'm sure asking would not seem rude or conflict-inducing at all. (Even for high-end hotels).
posted by bquarters at 10:19 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding asking for a weekly rate. This is normal and totally expected. There is a break even point for the night for the hotel that is much less than the asking price. They still have to pay to clean, heat the room, etc. You basically need to beat that cost and they make money. This negotiation is best done face to face it is much easier to say no over the phone. (Mr. Beans works and has worked for more than one major hotel chain.)
posted by Pork n Beans at 11:16 PM on September 4, 2011

This is possible. I was able to negotiate a more reasonable rate for a 90 day stay at a Marriott property. The best person to contact would be the sales person directly at your hotel of choice.
posted by LightMayo at 11:52 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I work out of town sometimes. I do the same thing as summerstorm, though I call. I say that I am bidding a job (which I am) and want to get rates. We will have x number of guys staying x days.

I have to bid out material and other costs. The hotels are an expense on the job. After I get the hotel numbers, I call them back to say this hotel won, but if you can beat that. It does not take much to get hotels into a bidding war against each other.
posted by Flood at 4:00 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @Beans, face-to-face seems like a huge risk since I'll have just flown across the country with two kids.
posted by rouftop at 6:09 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have AAA, you're eligible for significant discounts at a number of major hotel chains, and if you make reservations through their Web site, you can get better deals than on many other travel Web sites. Over the years, I've saved thousands of dollars on hotel bills, hassle free, because of a AAA membership card.
posted by paulsc at 6:16 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I work at a chain hotel in Canada and yes we can negotiate a better rate. Our rates for long stay leisure guests break down into 3 groups, 7-13 days, 13-29 days and 30+ days. These rates are better than what you would get with a CAA/AAA membership rate. If you already have a booking at the hotel for 10 days, call the hotel directly and speak with a guest services rep. If they can't/won't lower the rate, talk to their Guest Services Manager or Assistant General Manager. They should be able to do something for you. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount, you're giving them 10 nights of business, most places are happy to get your head in their bed. If they don't want to, check around with other hotels that fit your needs and if you get a better rate, cancel the original reservation.
posted by googlebombed at 6:58 AM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Right now the best deal on the website is not AAA. I could prepay for the trip and get roughly 10% off.

I see that many of you are business travelers. Not sure how to translate that to my situation.
posted by rouftop at 7:01 AM on September 5, 2011

Response by poster: @googlebombed - is there an advantage to making the reservation first?
posted by rouftop at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2011

The advice for business travelers really wouldn't help you in this case. The advantage in making a resv. first would be to show that you are motivated to stay at their property and you are already a guaranteed long stay. In order to give the lower rate, we had to get the resv. for at least 7 nights before giving it to them. You can also cancel if you don't get the rate that you are looking for. Chain hotels tend to be franchises in a number of cases and their policies may differ between locations to a certain degree.

If you are prepaying your stay, I would double check the cancellation/refund policy. If something happens where you have to leave early or you are unhappy with the accommodations, you may not be able to get your money back for the remainder of your stay.
posted by googlebombed at 7:29 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Face to face is a risk but so is asking for a lower rate. the worst that could happen is they say no, and its much easier to say no to a voice on the phone than no to a person standing there with two children.
You have nothing to lose as there is no guarantee. Either way you still have the room.
posted by Pork n Beans at 9:54 AM on September 5, 2011

I think a lot of this depends on where in Boston you're staying, how busy it is, and what kind of hotel. I work for a hotel chain, we typically don't negotiate our suite prices for ten days. But also, that depends on how many suites the hotel has. The point of the suite is that someone is willing to pay those prices.

If you do want to do this then definitely do book a reservation first, and call the property directly, during business hours, but preferably not during the check in rush. Ask to speak to the manager of reservations, you do not want to be the guy who asks to speak to every person in the room to get what he wants. You can also try at check in time, but if you're doing that, make sure again, it's not during the rush.

Again, I think the main thing is the property, occupancy, and area.
posted by trogdole at 11:42 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't ask face to face. If you're already standing in the hotel, why would they need to offer a discount? They already have you in the door. Play them off each other before you book.

One phrase that can be helpful is "I'm ready to book right now if..." (And be ready to do it if they meet your terms).

You don't have to feel bad about it. You have lots of choices for where to stay; you're giving each hotel an opportunity to get a very real amount of business. I'm sure they would rather be offered a chance to compete than be disregarded automatically.
posted by reeddavid at 1:34 PM on September 5, 2011

Assuming it's not a busy/heavy booking period (a hotel near a college at graduation time, for instance, would probably have a low vacancy rate), I'd say you should try negociating when you're on the phone making your reservation --- definately NOT when you're standing there in their lobby! Don't knock AAA, it's usually a 5%-10% savings, ditto for AARP.

Alternatively: could you talk to your employer, and see if they'd be willing to try getting you a discounted 'business' rate?
posted by easily confused at 5:33 PM on September 5, 2011

Response by poster: @trogdole, when exactly is the rush?
@confused, I'm my own employer. :-/
posted by rouftop at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you to all who answered. I called, I asked, I was referred to a "rooms booking manager" or something like that, and without even having to "name a number" the guy took 20% off the price -- exactly what I was hoping for, better than AAA AND better than prepaying.

posted by rouftop at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2011

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