- Tipping and saying "thank you" pays off
- A hotel's loyalty program has its benefits
- Hotel rates sometimes drop when packaged with airfare
In the hotel business, loyalty still has its rewards: free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes and spa discounts are among the perks you receive for joining Fairmont's free Presidents Club program.
That's just one of the tips and tricks we've compiled that will improve your next hotel stay -- before you even arrive. Some are easy adjustments to your travel habits like bringing your own bottled water or checking in later in the day when managers have a better sense of their inventory and will be more open to a spontaneous upgrade.
Other hotel strategies involve taking advantage of tools that do the research for you. Hipmunk's new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival. And online service Tingo will automatically rebook you at a lower price if your room rate drops.
Now that's the peace of mind that sets you well on your way to a good hotel night's sleep.
For the complete list of 100 ways to travel better, check out Travel + Leisure's December issue and tablet editions.
Consult the algorithm
New website TheSuitest has a Hotel Time Machine that predicts the average room rate in a destination six months out, making it easy to see when rooms will be at their most affordable.
Track the hotel rate
Book with online service Tingo, which will automatically rebook you at the lower price if your room rate drops.
Bundle your room with your airfare
Hotels drop rates when they can disguise them in travel packages offered by websites such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz.
Pick a card
If you want to stockpile airline miles and hotel points, finding the right travel-rewards credit card is key. Compare your options on the websites Nerdwallet and Cardhub. Both offer comprehensive card comparisons and sound advice on maximizing benefits.
Take a calculated hotel gamble
Turns out HotelTonight, the pioneer of same-day mobile bookings, partners with select hotels in each destination so it can guarantee availability. Check the app leading up to your trip to get a sense of what will be on offer in your destination. Then be quick on the draw the day of: deals go up at noon each day.
Look for unsold rooms
Don't want to cut it too close? Hipmunk's new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival.
Avoid hotel wi-fi fees
International: Mi-Fi hot spots, such as Verizon's Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi (from $49.99 with a two-year contract), provide a set amount of data for a fixed monthly price. Don't want an annual contract? Boingo Wireless offers access to more than 700,000 hot spots worldwide for as little as $7.95 a month.
Domestic: Android users can tether their phones' 3G to their laptop with the free app FoxFi; for everyone else, Tether ($29.95 per year) will connect a laptop to a mobile device via Bluetooth or USB.
Show a hotel brand your loyalty
Omni Select Guest: Free Wi-Fi, shoeshine, daily coffee delivery, last-minute discounts
Preferred iPrefer: Free Wi-Fi, late checkout, space-available upgrade
Fairmont's Presidents Club: Free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes, newspaper delivery, spa discounts
IHG Rewards Club: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery
Club Carlson: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant discounts
Kimpton Intouch: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery, mini-bar and hotel bar vouchers, spa credits
Small Luxury Hotels of the World: Automatic upgrade, breakfast for two after one stay
Tip like a pro
Change your bills into smaller denominations right as you check in to your hotel. That way you won't be left empty-handed when the bellman arrives with your bags.
Get a room upgrade
Be nice: Front desk agents are usually empowered to change a guest's room at their discretion. A little smile can go a long way.
Stay at a new hotel: Recently opened properties may not be as full, and have an added incentive to court return guests.
Be a regular: Hotels prioritize guests who are frequent visitors. If you are often in the city, be sure to let them know.
Check in later in the day: Hotel managers have a better sense of their open inventory as the day goes on, and will be more amenable to a spontaneous upgrade.
Say "thank you": If you had a great stay, let the hotel know in writing or via social media. The compliment may be repaid on your next visit.