Travel arrangements can alter at any time during a pandemic, depending on potential exposure and the industry’s need to respond to public health recommendations. It’s possible that you won’t know what you’re doing until the last minute.
But will booking a hotel at the last minute cost you more or less money?
For some travelers, arranging a last-minute trip means leaving it until the last two weeks before departure to select their flight and lodging. It can be as little as a day (24 hours) before departure for those who are more impulsive. In any case, knowing the ins and outs of booking late can come in helpful if you’ve ever considered waiting until the last minute to go on vacation.
Do you think you will be able to save a few dollars and be able to find an affordable fare for your travel along with a place to rest your weary head at night? With our guide to last-minute hotel booking, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you book.
If you’re the spontaneous type, one of the most exciting aspects of booking a last-minute vacation is the thrill of not knowing where you’ll go until the very last minute. Why not spend the summer in Colorado, a weekend in Vancouver, or a two-week trip throughout North America?
You never know those last-minute deals might be hit-or-miss, you can end up in a vacation area you wouldn’t have considered otherwise if it hadn’t been for an excellent last-minute price.
Plus, if you’re the laid-back sort who wants to go with the flow, you won’t have to worry about planning, arranging, or researching your vacation.
Another pro is that you might end up saving a few bucks. The best deals may be discovered while booking a hotel, as many of them reduce their prices as the arrival date approaches.
Hotels consider that it’s preferable to sell those vacant rooms for a lot lower cost than not to sell them and face loss.
Finding a cheap last-minute hotel is a little more complicated than finding a cheap last-minute flight because costs tend to rise the closer you approach the departure date due to increased demand during the vacation season. There are specific techniques to make locating last-minute hotels easier, as we’ll cover below, and if you do manage to catch a bargain hotel, you could save a lot of money.
Cons of last-minute booking
Bookings at the last minute are not for the faint of heart. The most significant disadvantage is the possibility of not going anywhere at all. It’s possible that you waited long enough to get the best deal but messed up by waiting too late.
There’s also the fact that, unlike when you buy last minute, booking early gives you a more extensive selection of flights and accommodations. If you have any dream location where you want to spend your leisure time, but due to insufficient inventory you might feel frustrated because of not being able to book a flight or a hotel.
The lack of flexibility is another possible disadvantage. People with limited/strict vacation time are compelled to take their holiday at specified times of the year. If you require particular timings that cannot be adjusted owing to prior commitments, it may be tough to book a last-minute vacation.
How to find the best deals at the last minute
There is no magic technique for locating low-cost last-minute accommodations. However, whether you’re booking last minute or months in advance, there are a few things necessary to keep in mind to increase your chances of getting a good deal on a hotel. Be adaptable as a general rule.
Accept the opportunity of remaining in a less ideal location.
Instead of the more popular weekend accommodations, look for hotels during the week. Simply altering the time duration of your hotel reservation could save you a lot of money.
Pre-booking on a holiday season, such as Christmas Day, rather than a few days before or after the holiday is sometimes worth a shot.
Another alternative is to reserve a hotel in a less expensive location and rent a car to get to your final destination.
For example, if you want to spend the weekend in Rome but can find considerably cheaper hotels close to the Pisa airport (a 10-15 minute drive), it might be better to stay in Pisa and drive to Rome.
Keep in mind that planning a last-minute trip with a group is far more complex, so reserving a last-minute hotel and travel will be much easier if you go solo or with only one other person this time.
Be tech-savvy and social
Staying informed and knowing when a deal or a sale is one of the best methods to get great last-minute hotel bookings and rates. Sign up for your favorite airline’s newsletters and frequent stay programs so you can quickly accrue and track your stays.
Try following your favorite airlines on social media for the last-minute great deals because they will frequently announce when they have promotional fares or unique bargains.
Mobile applications these days are the thing you can consider when it comes to finding cheap last-minute hotel reservations. Take advantage of booking in the place where you’ll be spending your vacation, and you might find that numerous adjacent hotels have dropped their rates at the last minute.
You can also utilize free internet tools to follow the price of a location and route you’re interested in and notify you when the price drops.
The Final Takeaway
You’re probably not keen on arranging travel too long in advance in an era where mask requirements flip back and forth, laws are relaxed and then limited, and COVID-19 cases climb after they recently declined.
There’s one additional reason why you might not want to book ahead of time in the first place: Last-minute hotel bookings are frequently less expensive.
Room rates for nights 15 days out versus four months out were compared at hotels all across the world, ranging in class and brand.
And, 66% of the time, booking a hotel stay 15 days in advance was less expensive than booking four months in advance.
The gap is even more pronounced in 2021, where you’re even more likely to find a last-minute offer.
Looking at the same rooms for 2021, we found that booking 15 days out versus four months out was cheaper 73% of the time.