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Many accommodation providers such as hotels, motels and serviced apartments often have a percentage of their rooms remaining unsold in the normal course of business. They sometimes refer to these rooms as "distracted inventory" available at a discounted price. This allows them to realize revenue that would not normally be received. Rooms made available on websites could be discounted by as much as 60%. The term generally used to describe the discounted room rates is last minute accommodation rates or short rates.
You may ask what's in it for the hotel?
Discounting is not a new concept in this industry, although it has typically been promoted via corporate rates or bulk purchases. This new online delivery of room rates allows the accommodation providers to offer specials to the larger public. Like yesterday's paper, the supplier would still rather have some revenue for the room than none at all.
A great tip for finding special rate deals is by typing "last minute accommodation rates" and the name of the city into your web search. Although there are many websites promoting these offers, a quick scan of the result pages will reveal those websites that display multiple offers on a single page. This makes for easy comparison between various suppliers. The full or rack rate together with the discount rate could be displayed and the magnitude of the saving becomes apparent.
Tips on booking your stay :
Last minute booking services are almost exclusively advertised online. This is due to the instant confirmations, live updates on availability and the huge audience that now exists online.
But when anyone provides credit card details online, they need to be as vigilant as if they were handing some cash on the street:
– Make sure that the payment pages are secured with HTTPS, as opposed to the regular HTTP address.
– Make sure the website has acceptable terms and conditions, you do not want to be left empty handed because of the small print.
– The absence of online transactions has led many suppliers to ask for a deposit, instead of full payment up front. This is a reasonable approach, as you would not normally pay for your stay until departure.
– Lastly, make sure the website offering the discount is providing confirmation of your payment and reservation.
Some services offer to "register your interest" and only when you have paid, will they check availability with the hotel or motel. You may as well just call the provider yourself, if this is the case.
Although it should not need to be said, remember to take receipt of your online booking for check-in. Or if necessary you can call prior to confirm your booking and maybe also advise of check-in times, special needs or requests etc.
When booking your stay for transit over early morning departures, most providers have dedicated sections for accommodation listings close to the airport and also offer a free service or parking for up to a week. Alternately you want to make sure a shuttle service is available from the motel or that they can organize such a service.
Typically last minute accommodation rates generally apply to the next 4 weeks or 28 days only. So for those spur of the moment spontaneous decisions it is ideal. Remember last minute rates are generally for two people only and you need to inquire if additional people can be accommodated and if so what the charge will be, check for any inclusions or extras on offer too. Inclusions can prove to be of excellent value and include such offers as free breakfast, a bottle of champagne or drink voucher or despite a free shuttle service to and from the airport.