Have you ever haggled for a hotel? Not just asking for their best rate, but asking them to do better, and then asking for an upgrade?
It can be awkward the first couple of times you try it. In North America, prices feel like they're set in stone. But hotelsare scrambling to get by these days. The latest numbers from industry analysts Smith Travel Research show average occupancy in Canada is down significantly - about 45 per cent of hotel rooms are empty at any given time, and revenues and rates have fallen too. In this climate, you might be surprised at how willing hoteliers are to make a deal.
As veteran travellers know, hotel rates are something of a Russian doll: always something a little smaller hidden inside if you take the time to look. There's the rack rate; nobody pays that. Then there's the seasonal rate, the loyalty rate, the CAA rate, and so on. But these days, I figured you might be able to do better, so I called hotels across the country last week and gave it my best shot.
First, I tried the Royal York in Toronto. I checked online and saw the lowest rate was $179, which seemed pretty good for the Royal York. I called and asked for a better deal. "We can't negotiate prices," the woman said, kindly but firmly. "Are you sure?" I said, possibly lamely. She was sure.
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