Avoid the sticker shock when you’re shopping from a hotel room in DC. In this video I’m going to give you some of my favorite hacks to make sure that you can get an awesome deal on your accommodations. HELLO! Welcome to Trip Hacks DC. My name is Rob. I’m a tour guide here in the nation’s capital. If you’re coming to town and you’re looking for the best tips, tricks, and hacks for exploring the city, please make sure to subscribe to this channel so that you don’t miss anything. And if you’re looking for a cool personalized tour experience you can head on over to TripHacksDC.com after this video, to see the tours that I offer. If you’ve ever gotten a great deal on a hotel room in DC, leave a comment on this video and let me know where you stayed and what kind of deal you got. The most important thing that I can tell you about getting a great hotel rate in DC is that you can either be lucky or you can be very strategic about the dates that you pick for your trip. The price of hotel rooms, just like everything else in life, is driven by supply and demand. In a given year the supply of hotel rooms is basically fixed, but the demand can change, and sometimes very substantially. Hotel pricing in DC is basically a function of the number of leisure travelers and the number of business travelers in town on any given date. Leisure travel is easy to predict. Most tourists come to Washington DC during summer vacation when the kids are on break from school, generally between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Spring break can get pretty busy too. On the other hand, it’s really hard for the average person to predict when there is going to be a lot of business travelers in town, especially because some conferences and conventions can bring literally thousands or tens of thousands of people into DC for a single event. One of the biggest mistakes I think a lot of people make is that they jump on an airfare sale when they see cheap plane tickets, but then they lock themselves in to dates before they check for accommodations. OK, so now that we’ve covered that let’s head over to my computer, and I’ll show you exactly what to do to pick the best dates for your trip. OK, now unfortunately this hack isn’t going to work for every hotel chain, but it does work particularly well for Marriott so I’m going to use their website for this example. Now when you go to find a room you usually enter your destination, how many rooms you need, how many people are going to be staying there, and your check-in and check-out dates. Now instead of entering specific dates I can use this button that says “flexible dates?” and then select a month, say July, when I think I might want to take my trip. When I search this way instead of it pulling up a list of hotels and showing me the rates based on my check-in and check-out, it just shows me a general list of hotels. So if I already know where I want to stay, say I want to stay at the Renaissance, a nice downtown hotel, I can click the “view rates” button, and instead of pulling up a list of rates based on whether I want the king bed or two queen beds, it pulls up a calendar, and on this calendar it shows the lowest rate for every single night of the month. Now this is really useful because it becomes clear very quickly which dates you should try to plan your trip if you want to get a great rate on a hotel room and which you should definitely avoid. So the first week of July there are rates in $140 range for pretty much the entire first week, which for a nice downtown Renaissance, is a pretty good value, honestly; but then take a look at the second week of the month rates are in the $600, $800 per night range, and that’s a really bad deal especially because you could have come for a week earlier and got in that same room for a fraction of the price. The other thing you can do if you know the number of nights you want to stay, say you’re planning a three night trip, you can change your options and redo the search, and on the calendar it’ll show you the total price for the number of nights based on when you check-in. So in this case you could actually get the best possible rate by checking in on June 30th, but again a lot of the check-in dates the first week of July will get your rates that put you under $500 total for your stay. And if you stay the second week you’re jumping up to over $2,000 if you check-in on, say, July 9th. Again this is just one example for one hotel, but it gives you a really good starting point to figure out which dates might be good for a trip, and which might be bad.=for a trip, so that you can go back and redo this process for other hotels or search for other hotel chains based on certain dates. The next tip I have for getting a great rate on a hotel in DC is to book directly through the hotel and book a refundable rate. There are a lot of third party booking websites out there like Priceline, Hotels.com, Booking.com, and they all want you to think that booking through them will get you the best rate on a hotel, but it really isn’t usually the case. Hotels really don’t want you to use those websites because when you do, the hotel has to pay commission to the website, some hotel chains are actually taking this a step further by offering lower rates than on those websites if you create an account with their rewards program and log into it before you book. Even when you book directly through the hotel at the lower rate they still make more money, compared to having to pay a commission to the third party booking website. The other thing I mentioned is to book a refundable rate, which seems counterintuitive to a lot of people because when you’re booking a hotel you’ll almost always notice that they give you a better deal if you prepay and pick the non-refundable rate there are two main reasons to avoid doing this. The first is just practical. Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you have to cancel your trip. If you book the non-refundable rate, you’re not getting any of that money back. So think of the refundable rate, even if it’s a little higher, as just including an insurance policy with it. But the other reason is that hotel rates, just like airfare, can go up and down and once you’ve booked a non-refundable rate, you’re locked into that rate, whereas if you booked a refundable rate, and the rate drops, you can just rebook and save the money. Basically after you’ve made your initial reservation, just check back on the hotel’s website every week or so, see if the rates changed, and if it’s dropped, cancel your original reservation and just make a new one. People often ask me what about websites like Priceline where you can name your own price or Hotwire where you can book the hotel without knowing what it is first, and I have actually used those websites myself in the past, but I rarely do so anymore because they come with some pretty big risks. The most obvious one is if you don’t actually know which hotel you’re booking, you might not be happy with it after it’s revealed. The other reason is that when you book a room through one of these websites the hotel is not going to go above and beyond for you. They’re not going to give you an upgrade, they’re not going to put you in a room with a good view, most likely they’re going to give you whatever room they had left over, and that’s the reason why they were putting the room up on that website in the first place. And lastly if something goes wrong and yes, things do go wrong, it’s so much easier to deal with a problem if you book directly through the hotel’s website because they’re usually able to deal with it right there on site, give you a refund or a partial refund if you need one. Whereas if you book through a third party website you have to deal with an extra middleman. The last tip I have for this video is to use a cash back website to get a little bit of a rebate when you book a hotel. I like websites like eBates and TopCashback because they’ll give you a little bit of a rebate when you book through them. You might already be familiar with them if you’re using them for other shopping websites. I’ll leave some information in the description along with some promo codes for both so you can save a little extra money if you haven’t used them before. The amount of rebate varies but it can be pretty significant sometimes especially when they’re running a promotion. Hilton, for example, was running a promotion earlier this year where they were offering 10% rebate if you booked through TopCashback, and that’s a pretty good savings, especially for a longer trip, and especially because using these websites requires very little additional effort. And that’s it! Thank you for watching this video. If you found it helpful you can subscribe to the channel by clicking on the Trip Hacks DC logo which is popping up at the bottom of your screen. And if you’re coming to Washington DC and you’re looking for a cool personalized tour experience, you can click on the Capitol dome which is to the left of my head right now and that will redirect you to my website TripHacksDC.com where you can see what I offer. Enjoy your trip!