I used to be resistant to these methods in the past because it took too much time. For each hotel, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Your lodging is your primary expense in your mini-retirement. One month’s food budget could be covered by a hundred dollars you save on housing. You should be able at least to save 25% on the price quoted, which could be anywhere from 100 to 200 dollars per month in a country such as Vietnam.
These techniques wouldn’t work in higher-end hotels, but it’s worth a try. There are many cool hacks that can be used with them. Because they are generally affordable, clean, and accommodating, I will be focusing on hotels that cater specifically to travelers in this article.
BEFORE YOU ENTER THE HOTEL
1) Determine the season – This will help you determine what season it is for tourists. Low seasons will give you more leverage. Do not assume that summer is high season. In many parts of SE Asia, it could be the reverse.
2) Take your time. This entire process can take some time. It is a challenge so approach it with an open mind and a positive attitude. You can either leave your bags at a friendly place or you can stay in a fancy hotel for your first night in town. You can even bring your entire stuff in one light-weight bag!
3) Do not walk beyond the tourist area. There are always entrepreneurs who want to open tourist hotels just a few blocks from the main tourist district. These places, which are often struggling, rely on the tourism area for success. These owners are more open to negotiations.
4) Stay in the evenings. I feel that small hotel owners are more likely to lower their rates between 6-9 in the night. They know that every guest they bring in will increase their revenue.
ONE TIME YOU ENTER
5) Build rapport with staff – Begin by walking in and having a small conversation with the staff. One question that I love is “Do you own this Hotel?” This can be used as a joke, or as a compliment. You’ll be able to ask the question, “Where is the owner?”
6) Get the facts. The best way to find out if rooms are suitable for your needs (AC, Wifi etc. It is also important to know how many rooms they have left vacant and how many are available. Ask them if there are any long-term residents. Plan and support the idea of staying for a while. If you are looking for a cheaper price, this is a huge advantage. It is not a good idea to take an early bulk payment option. There are so many things you can’t plan for when reviewing your room (neighbors and pests, etc.).
7) Ask for the price and tour each room – Talk to the staff about the prices and take a look around the rooms. Make a list of the things you need to confirm once you have entered the room. Double-check the wifi signal and hot water supply, as well as the security and AC issues. Also, make sure to check the hotel’s policies regarding late night access.
8) Go back to the room that you love the most. Tell them you are going on business and plan to stay several nights. You will tell them that you believe the room is good, but that it is not worth the price. If there are many rooms available, ask for 60% to 70% off. If the hotel only has a few rooms, ask for 60% off, but don’t expect it to be yours! You can also mention a particular problem in the room to suit your needs, such as “this room doesn’t have a window so it’s not worth paying the full price.”
9) Smile even when things get difficult – Don’t lose your cool. They’re used to it. Keep smiling, laughing, and keep going.
10) Do not do anything that could stop the conversation. This is a rookie move in negotiation in developing countries. Never state your reserve price, and don’t stand there like a proud statue. This can cause the owner or negotiator’s face to fall. It is important to be willing to give up some ground.
11) Tell them that you understand their country. – Speak a few words in their native language and tell them that you are going to stay. Let them know if you have been there before.
12) Re-state the reason for your offer if they aren’t at the price you desire. For example: “I plan on staying for 1-2 weeks minimum.” You can offer it again to show that you believe in its value. Make sure they are satisfied with the value of it.
13) Don’t use the AC. This is a big cost to keep a guest at a hotel for travelers. Offer to not use the AC if there is adequate airflow and a ceiling fan. This concession has resulted in a price drop of 5$ per day or more on multiple occasions. AC can make you feel sick in tropical climates. Many hotel owners won’t allow this option as they assume that you will need it.
14) BRING OUT OUR BIG GUNS! This is the #1 gamut of negotiation: “somebody else sells the same thing for less.” If they don’t get down to the price you are willing to pay (e.g., why would a small hotel give you a discount of 50% if more than half their rooms are empty) 1) Pride or 2) They believed you would pay the quoted amount. Let go of the pride and say that you won’t be paying the quoted price. If you feel business is light, you might also state, “I would like to stay here but unfortunately, I found a room with a similar price somewhere else.” I don’t think you can match their prices, but I am certain that I would prefer to remain here. I love the [receptionists, library, view and friendly atmosphere].
15) 25% is often the “golden number” – I don’t know why, but I have seen hotel rooms for 25 percent of the price the hotel will take. This can be used as a guideline, especially in busy seasons. Ask for a discount of 50% for multiple nights and you will likely be able to find a way back to that figure.
Are there any other tricks you can share? Please let me know, and I’ll try them!