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Best Last Minute Hotel Search Tips

The best time to book a hotel room is typically well in advance of your trip or conversely, just in advance of your trip.  The concept here is just Economics 101, simple supply and demand.  A few months before your trip the availability of hotel room inventory in your destination is typically high (providing you are not travelling to a destination with high conference traffic or during a busy holiday) and the desire for these hotel rooms is generally low. 

As you get closer to the date of your trip you will enter a peak hotel booking window where other travellers are also searching similar hotel rooms in your desired area with many of the features and cheap hotel rates that you also prefer.  Generally hotel rooms during this hotel peak booking window are provided at the local market rate and hotel discounts (when available) are offered by the providers just to maintain a competitive marketplace advantage.

Fast forward to a hotel search the week before or just days before your trip.  Large hotels chain with excess inventory often utilize sophisticated software price algorithms that lower the room rate automatically each day (and sometimes hourly on the last day) based upon the inventory of their available hotel rooms and the how close it is to the check-in date.  Unsold Hotel Rooms can and do expire leaving the hotel with lost revenue.  Because of this, they are willing to book hotel rooms at less than the desired peak hotel booking rates just to prevent lost income and recapture any remaining revenue opportunity before it expires and the hotel room goes unsold.  Smaller hotels with less sophisticated pricing systems often adjust rates periodically based upon their knowledge of the season and previous annual trends and experience.  So how do you search hotels to find these deals?

Here's a few tips to book a cheap last minute hotel.

  • When travel plans permit, search hotels close to the dates of your travel if it’s not during peak season and your destination is not a high business traffic conference heavy city.

  • Search hotels after midnight of your destination time zone.  Hotel chains update their room rates daily and this occurs during the update of their rate feed to the major hotel search booking engines.

  • Utilize a special last minute hotel booking service if you’re travelling within a few days or less and have the ability to make a fast hotel booking decision.  If you’re flexible on some of your requirements for the hotel’s location and features you can actually save up to 80% off the rack rate during prime time in major destinations.

  • Always consider a hotel search within a few miles from your desired destination.  It’s often possible to book a last minute cheap hotel deal a few miles from your ideal destination because the hotel inventory a few miles away from city centers, landmarks, and vacation hotspots has lower demand and prices generally drop even faster than centrally located hotels as you get closer to the check-in date.  You might save a few hundred dollars over several days if you’re willing to cab it a few miles or rent a car.


And finally, if you are in a position to book your hotel late and take advantage of last minute hotel search and booking deals, you’ll want to utilize sites and a last minute hotel search provider especially competent in clearing out last minute hotel deals and see if you too can book a room with a deep discounted last minute hotel bargain.


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