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Consumer Reports Says Negotiating Hotel Room Rates Pays Off For Travelers

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RALEIGH — A lot of people do not realize how negotiable hotel rates are. If you make even the smallest effort to bargain you can bet you will probably pay less than others checking in at the same time in the same type of room.

An empty room does not earn a hotel a cent, which is why hotels will often bargain to fill those rooms.

Consumer Reports

tried to get the best deal at more than 100 hotels in several big cities across the country. Testers found travel broker Web sites that promise discount hotel fares were disappointing.

"The rate quoted was often much higher than what the hotel gave me when I called," says Tod Marks. "In one instance, I was able to save over $200 by calling the hotel directly."

Testers found that dialing the hotel's local number instead of its toll-free 800 number usually led to a better rate.

"The staff of the hotel knows how full they are, and they have more discretion," Marks says. "Once I simply said, 'Let me think about it." And the reservation clerk dropped the rate by $50.

Marks asked for the lowest rate, then tried some polite bargaining. He asked, "What if I arrive a day earlier? How about a day later? Do you have anything on a lower floor that might be a little less expensive?" And he found it can help to let the hotel know you are shopping around.

Other ways to save include picking up discount guides at visitor centers and going online to


, where you can find coupons for lots of big-name hotels.

And if all else fails, Marks says, "Don't be afraid to say, 'That's beyond my budget.' And be bold enough to ask, 'Is that the best you can do?'"

Consumer Reports

also surveyed more than 40,000 readers who tried bargaining, and half got lower rates.

Copyright ©2001 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All rightsreserved.

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