We tapped our uber-smart behind-the-scenes team who is responsible for pricing strategies at our hotels for their go-to tips on planning and booking your next trip:
Be Loyal: Loyalty programs are usually free to join and can offer a ton of benefits, including preferred rates and exclusive packages, especially if you book direct. (Members of Kimpton’s Karma Rewards program can even pick up perks like free wi-fi and Raid the Bar cards to redeem in the minibar or at the actual bar.)
Late Birds Can Win: Does tossing everything into a suitcase and spontaneously departing for Florida tomorrow sound thrilling? Your wallet may agree. If you’re willing to take a gamble and your heart isn’t set on a specific location, waiting for those last-second deals can pay off. You’ll score a better price and a few extra surprises if you book direct.
Avoid Peak Travel Times: If your fabulous weekend getaway falls on the same dates as a major event, you’re not the only one that’s happened to. Don’t be surprised if “National Donut Day 5K & Conference” turns out to be a legit thing–so check the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau in advance to see what’s on the local radar. Hotel rates usually jump when there’s a big crowd flooding into the city. The same thing goes for family- and group-friendly resorts, so book early and aim for non-school-vacation dates or weekday stays, if possible. If that’s too much work, try the Hopper app for a quick calendar snapshot. If it can’t be avoided, check well ahead of time for pre-pay rates to lock in the best deal.
Flex Your Calendar: A little wiggle room in your schedule can pay off in a big way. The sweet spot for booking flights is typically 4-6 weeks out, and the price drops even more on softer-demand “shoulder” days like Mondays or Thursdays (or better yet, on a major holiday like New Year’s Eve). Use an app like Google Flights to track pricing changes across different dates. (Bonus tip: shoulder days can work for hotels too–and don’t forget to ask about multi-day packages, since you may be able to add an additional night for less than the cost of dinner at a hot new restaurant.)
BYO [Empty] Bottle: Okay, we confess: this last tip relies on zero technology or data, but we couldn’t resist tossing it into a roundup of smart ways to travel. It’s important to stay hydrated while traveling, and equally important to partake in a few local libations. Once you’ve collected your free beverages from your hotel’s killer loyalty program, keep in mind that a water bottle or flask can save you shelling out $5-$10 for bottles of water, beer or wine when you’re on the go.
Last but not least, travels apps always come in handy, plus you have access to everything you need at your fingertips while you’re on the go.