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Are Hotel Room Rates Negotiable if I Speak Directly With the Hotel Reservations Department?

Hotel / Restaurant Wall Sign

Charles C. asked Me:

Are Hotel Rooms Negotiable If I Speak Directly to The Reservations Department?

The short answer is, it depends but more likely yes.

There is and there never will be, a substitute or replacement for human contact, or engaging in verbal exchanges with each other.

Rather than go into all the circumstances that would justify negotiations or not justify it, you only need to consider that you cannot negotiate with a website. A website is an inanimate object made up of code and pictures. You can, however, speak to a human being who may have the authority to not only offer you a discount, but assist you in reserving a discounted rate that you would not see on a discount website or even be offered on site.

OK, I’ll Give You Some Circumstances:

Calling in gives you the advantage of asking questions such as, “Is that the best rate you have?” or “Do you have any packages that include breakfast?” or “Can I have a late checkout?”

Then there is the small talk, something you cannot do online. Why is this important? It’s important because you get an opportunity to ask the very best question you can ask when booking a room. A question that only the reservations agent would know. That question goes something like this, “So, what’s going on in name city during the week of when you want to stay? Any big conventions in town?” This simple question with small talk can save you hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars and, there is no way for this question to be answered online. If the agent says something like, “Oh wow, the name of convention is in town.” Or “The annual name of festival is happening.” or “The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are scheduled to play. The town will be crazy!”

What did you just learn? You learned that there is or will be (if you book far enough in advance) a major event in town that will attract thousands of people who need a hotel room. Occupancy in all hotels will be high and so goes the price of the room. It’s simple economics, supply & demand. You conclude that it is best to make your decision quickly and book a room.

If the agent says something like, “Oh, it’s dead. Our tourist season is over, and we don’t get busy again until Christmas.”

What did you just learn this time? You learned that you have more wiggle room to negotiate a rate. Ask about discounts offered or packages. Do a search online for other local hotels and if you find a rate that is cheaper, use that as a negotiating tactic.


You should always consider that any question (detailed) you ask the agent, will be answered. There are hundreds of questions you can ask on the phone that you cannot ask online. Even those chat bots with their Ai cannot outperform a real human. Questions like, “How large are the rooms?” “Does is cost more for a view?” “Are your pillows feather or foam?” “What color is the carpet?” “Is there dry cleaning or laundry service available? Is it 24hrs?” “Are all rooms non-smoking?”

Two things to remember here. First, if you call in and you are transferred to the toll-free reservations center, the likelihood of a discount drops considerably (but still possible.) The toll-free reservationists have only their screens to look at and they see what you see on their reservations screen plus a little more detail. The agent might know something about the hotel based upon first hand knowledge and be willing to share it with you, but the probability of someone in a call center located in Phoenix, knowing what is happening in Kansas City is slim to none.

One More Nugget of Advice:

Now that you know all these tactics, there is still one more thing to know. That is that the discount rates you see online, in most cases, cannot be matched by the sales agent. All the discounted websites offer the same thing, meaning the same rate, within a few cents of each other. Ever wonder how or Why? The hotel dictates the rate you see, and they are contractually obligated to provide a certain number of rooms per night to the discount site. Hotel management will provide, for example 12 rooms to Expedia at the rate of $95 and they agree to this rate months to a year back. So, if the hotel occupancy begins to look strong and management decides to raise rates across the board, say to $200, those 12 rooms at $95 remain for sale until they are gone. Once all those rates are sold, the hotel has the option to add more or not add anymore. So do your homework before calling in. Learn what the discount sites are offering that way, when you call in, you have the knowledge and confidence to tell the agent that you saw a cheaper rate online and would like them to match it. The agent will either agree to do so or may not be allowed to offer the discount and tell you to book online. That is because contractually, the hotel is either no allowed to match the rate or, they don’t want to offer rate that low.

The bottom line here is, you have a much better chance of getting that discount if you speak to a human vs inputting your information into a website. Remember, there is and there never will be, a substitute or replacement for human contact, or engaging in verbal exchanges with each other.

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