The hospitality industry has a million ways to milk you for cash. Ready to put an end to it? Good. Now listen up and follow these top travel tips.
Planning a trip this summer? Yeah, so is everybody else. That’s why hotels jack up their rates – more demand for rooms means more opportunities to make customers pay. But you don’t have to spend to make the most of your visit, says Jacob Tomsky, a 10-year veteran of the hospitality industry and the author of Heads in Beds. Employ a few smart insider strategies and you’ll keep your credit card from taking a beating.
Call Outside Room Service
You should never spend R200 to wait for cold hotel fries, says Tomsky. After all, your hotel doesn’t have a monopoly on delivery. Check the Mr Delivery brochure in your area to find a list of local restaurants eager to bring better, cheaper food right to your hotel room door.
Mention Your Anniversary
If your wife or girlfriend is with you, excitedly tell the clerk that it’s your anniversary. You have a good shot at an upgrade, says Tim Leffel, editor of hotel-scoop.com. Oh, it’s not really your anniversary, you say? Well, that’s between you and the missus.
Find Out Where the Staff Parks
While it shouldn’t be an issue at fancy chain hotels, the boutique ones don’t have ample parking, especially when in a city centre. Ask the front desk where they park overnight, it’ll usually be a cheaper rate than the obvious garage option – or you can gamble on the street.
Travel with Your Own Hotspot
No free Wi-Fi? Invest in a compact wireless router like the Huawei R206 (from R69, vodacom.co.za) to connect up to five devices at once and avoid the hotel Wi-Fi fee entirely. Get an unlocked unit and use your international sim when travelling abroad.
Flash Cash for an Upgrade
“Zero in on a friendly-looking front desk rep, hand over a klip, and say, ‘I appreciate whatever you can do for me,’ ” Tomsky suggests. Chances are you’ll score an upgrade on the spot. At the very least, you’ll end up in the best room in your category.
Enroll in Loyalty Programmes
The Protea Hotels Prokard is allied with kulula.com and Budget car rentals, plus the Prokidz benefit is gets a free stay and breakfast for kids under 12 – there’s also a babysitter service. Travel writer Toast Coetzer recommends the Godwana Card for great discounts at Godwana hotels across Namibia.
Score the Cheapest Room Rate
You could wait for the Groupon that never comes (unless you really dig timeshare condos), or seems like a sweet deal until you realise that the deal expires the day before your leave starts. Or you could use the accommodation tab at pricecheck.co.za, which hooks into the deals published daily at sleeping-out.co.za and safarinow.com. Tomsky’s best advice is to book as far ahead as possible, and be loyal to a hotel chain.