Top 4 Hotel Booking Myths Debunked

When it comes to booking hotels, do travelers know how to get the best bang for their buck, or are they relying on old myths that could cost them?

Liana Corwin - Jun. 20, 2019
Hotels Illo

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, which means that millions of Americans are planning their annual warm-weather getaways. But when it comes to booking hotels, do travelers know how to get the best bang for their buck, or are they relying on old myths that could cost them?

To save travelers some extra cash on their upcoming summer trips, Hopper analyzed millions of hotel prices to determine the four truths you need to know about booking hotels. If travelers do everything right, they could be looking at a savings of over 50%.

Myth #1: Your Check-In Date Doesn’t Matter

Truth: Knowing the right day of the week to check-in at your destination city can help travelers save anywhere from 15% to 47% on their hotel stay. In general, Sunday is the least expensive day of the week to start your stay at a hotel, and checking in on a Sunday can save travelers 19% off peak prices. Tuesday, or the middle of the week, is generally the most expensive day to check into hotels. Higher middle of the week prices are especially common in cities with a high proportion of weekday business traffic.

Average price for a hotel in the US based on day of check-in
Figure 1: Average price for a hotel in the US based on day of check-in.

Myth #2: You Should Always Book At The Last Minute

Truth: The best time to book your hotel will vary significantly depending on your destination city. A good rule of thumb: book hotels 1-2 weeks in advance if you’re traveling to a larger, more business travel-heavy city and you’re flexible about where to stay. For vacation getaway destinations, book 2-3 months in advance to get the best prices.

Large cities such as New York City, Boston, and Chicago have a high proportion of business travelers and an expansive hospitality industry. In these cities, hotel prices only fluctuate slightly 3-6 months in advance of check-in, then begin to drop in the 12 weeks ahead of check-in. In these cities, the best deals are available at the last minute, but travelers will face a trade-off: hotels are more likely to be booked, and travelers may not be able to get the exact room or hotel they are looking for.

In smaller cities with a higher proportion of leisure travelers (think beach destinations and popular weekend getaways), hotel prices trend vastly different from larger cities as check-in dates approach. In these cities, the best deals are available as far as 3 months in advance of check-in and prices are likely to be higher for last-minute bookers.

Average price for a hotel in large US metropolitan cities, based on the number of days before check-in
Figure 2: Average price for a hotel in large US metropolitan cities, based on the number of days before check-in.
Average price for a hotel in popular getaway cities, based on the number of days before check-in
Figure 3: Average price for a hotel in popular getaway cities, based on the number of days before check-in.

Myth #3: Every Room Night Is Priced Equally

Truth: In general, Saturday nights are the most expensive at hotels. Booking a hotel in the US with a Saturday night stay will cost about 7% more than booking a 2-night stay during the week. When you’re booking a 2-night weekend away or a mico-vacation, keep in mind that checking in on a Saturday can sometimes save travelers more than a Friday night check-in, especially in tourist/leisure traveler-heavy cities.

Myth #4: If You Comparison Shop, You’ll Find The Best Price

Truth: Booking at the right time can save travelers on average $61/night off of peak prices. Most consumers, however, overpay because they spot check prices about a month before their trip or wait until the last minute, when in fact the best deals can oftentimes be found 2-3 months in advance or sometimes are not even publicly available at all. What many travelers do not realize is that hotel prices can fluctuate just as much as flight prices in the months leading up to their stay, but unlike with airlines, travelers can sometimes secure private rates that aren’t available online when they call the hotel directly. There are all kinds of other rates that may not be available publicly as well, such as package rates, member rates, geo-fenced rates, closed user group rates, and pre-purchased inventory blocks, just to name a few. Just like shopping for flights, travelers need to delegate their shopping if they want to save. Hopper, for example, will explore every channel to secure the best available deal, and will send travelers a push notification the instant prices drop or if a private deal is available.

Know Before You Book

In order to take the guesswork out of the hotel booking process, Hopper just announced the global launch of Hotels. You can now “watch a hotel” and Hopper will forecast and track prices, as well as search for private deals for specific hotels you’re interested in -- you never have to comparison shop again!

Hopper Hotels

We’re excited to share that over 270,000 hotels across 1,600 major cities are now available to book directly in Hopper. There are now more choices than ever with the most popular international destinations boasting an average of 1,000 hotels and top domestic destinations offering more than 350 hotels. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve also released a number of features. The new search function allows you to enter a city, neighborhood, or even points of interest. You can also apply filters such as neighborhoods, rating, price, and amenities.

To find out more about Hotels, check out today’s announcement.

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