NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Hotel prices are on the rise, according to a new report.
Analysis from Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index showed the average U.S. consumer paid $137 per night at hotels during the first two quarters of 2014, a 5% increase from the first-half of 2013.
"Hotel prices have been steadily climbing for a few years now and the index has nearly returned to the peak that it reached in the first half of 2007," said Neha Parikh, vice president and general manager of Hotels.com North America.
As the economy recovers, consumers have more money to spend, which increases demand for hotels and subsequently the rates. Plus, the labor market has been showing signs of strength, despite the latest blemish with only 142,000 jobs created in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumers aren’t likely too book trips if they don’t feel confident about their employment situation.
“More demand means hotels don’t have to offer discounts as much,” said Jetsetter managing editor Leigh Crandall.
That doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up and pay full price. There are plenty of ways to score a discount or even a room upgrade without devoting too much time or effort.
First, if you’re willing to book last minute, you can gain access to deals at a slew of luxury hotels in high-profile cities thanks to the HotelTonight smartphone app. The app boasts bookings up to 70% off. The catch is, you need to be prepared for same-day bookings.When traveling abroad, if a country’s major cities are out of your price range, consider checking out some surrounding cities that are less traveled.
“Paris is expensive, but other cities in France like Lyon or Marseille may offer better deals,” Crandall adds.
She says travelers are also booking trips to Nicaragua, instead of Costa Rica, in order to save money.
Plus, consider staying at hotels that offer rewards programs to stretch your savings. “Take advantage of the hotel’s rewards program, which may offer perks like free Wi-Fi, wine and cheese and upgrades when available,” she adds.
Hotel chains such as Starwood, Hyatt, Kimpton, Omni Hotels & Resorts and Marriott have rewards programs, to name a few.
Hotels have also been posting exclusive discounts to followers and fans of its various social media pages. For example, Starwood Preferred Guest members who link their accounts to Foursquare, gain additional points upon checking-in on the app.
If you’re having trouble finding a discount, you may have some better luck asking for an upgrade when you check-in to a hotel. “A little communication goes a long way,” Crandall tells MainStreet. “Especially if you’ve stayed at the hotel previously or are traveling due to a special occasion, which could prompt the hotel to upgrade your room.”
- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE.