If you’re looking for a hotel deal, waiting to the very end can be expensive

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When it comes to booking hotel stays, Aesop and his legendary Ali may have put it off — waiting until the very end to book can actually pay.

Travelers have the traditional wisdom that booking early will reduce the cost of accommodation, airline tickets and other vacation factors, but according to a NerdWallet study, book hotel rooms up to 15 days before arrival. It turns out that waiting for can save 66% of the time. Up to 4 months.

Nerd Wallet travel expert Sally French says that the idea that early booking is better is always a matter of choice in practice.

“It’s not about’buying early for a better deal’, but about the opportunity cost of not booking early. Waiting can severely limit your options, “she said. “Booking in advance means you have more options to book a hotel that is really within your budget.”

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NerdWallet surveyed over 2,500 hotel rates worldwide in 2019, 2020 and early 2021, regardless of price or brand, and compared 15-day and 4-month rates. ..

From 2019 to 2021, the average North American room rate booked for 15 days was $ 203, while the average room rate for units booked in 4 months was $ 233, a difference of 12.7%. Internationally, the rates and differences were similar at $ 201 and $ 232, with a 13.5% gap.

“International trends are in close agreement with domestic trends,” France added. “I am relieved to know that I have not missed even better international transactions.”

On the other hand, the average price for all luxury hotels was $ 302, a 21.6% difference, compared to $ 386 four months ahead when booked 15 days before the trip. According to NerdWallet, the difference is even greater when comparing prices 15 days ago and 11 months ago (50%, NerdWallet was found).

However, French states that “cheap” is a relative term. As an example, she pointed out the price per night before the pandemic at JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live. That was $ 1,110 for an 11-month booking and $ 450 just 15 days ago.

“Still, $ 450 is more expensive than most people would pay overnight at a hotel,” the French said. “Therefore, the hotel may offer a” better “price, but it is often still more expensive than the midrange option. “

Savings at medium and low distance hotels were less, at 9.4% and 5.5%, respectively. According to the French, Nerd Wallet said that “budget-friendly” hotels, such as the $ 100 / night Best Western Market Center in Dallas, did not deviate from their rates during the research process, but at the last minute.

“But if you think it’s okay to procrastinate, what if all the budget hotels are sold out because of a huge festival or conference in town?” Said the French. “You may have to book a Ritz-Carlton. Ritz-Carlton often costs more than $ 1,000.

“Waiting to the very end is a $ 900 mistake,” she said.

If you feel comfortable traveling now, get the best deals possible.

Sari wrench

Nerd Wallet Travel Expert

Did the pandemic and subsequent slump in travel help keep prices down? According to the French, prices fell by about 33% year-on-year in 2020, but are now on the rise as they are 30% cheaper than in 2019.

“I hope that trend will continue as more people are vaccinated and the country is open to tourists,” she said. “If you feel comfortable traveling now, get the best deals possible, because I don’t think they’ll get stuck.”

Travelers are advised to consider booking directly at the hotel of their choice, online or by phone. According to the French, it’s more important than price than flexibility. “Recently, many hotels have a very generous cancellation policy, which is often respected only when booked with them,” she said. “There is no guarantee that you will get a full refund when you book with a travel agent or a third party site.”

In addition, according to the French, most hotels match prices for the same room and travel dates at a lower price. Alternatively, travelers who have booked a hotel with a flexible cancellation policy can cancel a higher booking previously made and rebook at a lower rate. However, she added that booking online is “certainly fast and convenient.”

Destinations with low hotel rates include Bangkok and Tokyo overseas. Overseas, prices are more than 50% lower than 2019 prices. Also, according to the French, there are business centers in the United States such as Newyork and Philadelphia.

Where should I avoid?

“There are a lot of hotels that are actually going up in price, especially in remote domestic destinations,” she said. “Two different luxury hotels in Scottsdale, Arizona, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainy Ranch and Anders Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, both average about 80% higher than 2019 rates in 2021. There are many. ”

If you’re looking for a hotel deal, waiting to the very end can be expensive

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