Good news: You finally get to go to the music festival or conference or weekend event that you’ve been pining after for years. You scored last-minute tickets, and you can’t wait to have the weekend of your life. It’s safe to say your expectations are probably a little high.
There’s only one problem: Everyone else is expecting to have the weekend of their lives too in the exact same place, and the hotels are almost entirely booked.
Don’t give in to despair just yet. We’ve got a few hacks for finding a hotel room even when the odds are stacked against you. Buckle in and delete the Couchsurfing app off your phone now. You won’t be needing to stoop that low this time.
Make Sure You’re Looking in the Right Place
If you’re browsing for hotels on online travel agency (OTA) websites like Expedia or Travelocity, you might come across a “Sold Out” notification for the hotel you want. With language like that, you’d have every reason to believe that this means the hotel is completely booked for those dates, but that’s often not the case at all. OTAs only have access to a certain part of a hotel’s inventory, so when they tell you that a hotel is sold out, they most likely just mean the block of rooms they have access to is sold out, not the entire hotel.
When you look at hotels on Roomkey, however, we get our information straight from the source. This means that our inventory is accurate and up to date. We then take you to the hotel directly where you’ll complete your booking on their site. This means that you won’t deal with a middleman website who might lose your reservation. (More on that topic here.)
Rethink Your Dates
Consider arriving earlier or staying later. This might not seem like it would make a difference, but it’s actually an industry trick. On busy weekends, hotels open up more rooms for people who are staying three nights or more than they do for people making reservations for only one or two nights. Especially on an event weekend where most people will be in town for only one or two nights, booking for three nights could give you priority. This helps you because you score a room, and it helps the hotels because they get to fill some of their rooms before the big rush. We call that a win-win.
Rethink Your Group
If you’ve tried your best and shuffled your dates but there still seems to be nothing, consider inviting a friend or two or three. People often travel to conferences or events alone or in small groups, which means that two or four-person rooms fill up faster. By expanding your party to a larger group, you might get access to suites or larger hotel rooms that are still available. Gather up a few friends to split the cost, and consider the hotel’s larger options like their suites. If all goes well, you’ll land in a nicer room at a lower cost and have some friends along for the ride.
Rethink Your Location
Check out the public transportation system in the city you’re going to, and consider booking a hotel that’s a little further out, but still accessible. Most people probably haven’t looked beyond the center of the action, leaving available rooms that might not be as convenient but still feasible. By looking specifically at properties close to public transit, you’ll open up more hotel options for your trip without the added cost and hassle of having to rent a car for the weekend.
Just Keep Checking
As the event gets closer, it’s likely that hotels will have cancellations and rooms will open up. Keep checking back, especially as the date gets closer. The days right before a hotel’s cancellation fees go into effect (this varies for the hotel so you’ll have to inquire, but it could be two weeks or two days before) typically see the most cancellations. Check back around then and you’re likely to get lucky.
Look into the Loyalty Program
It might be too late to solve the predicament you’re in at the moment, but if you find yourself having this problem often, joining a hotel loyalty program could be the solution. Some loyalty programs guarantee rooms for their top-tier members like Hilton’s Diamond members, meaning that even if the property is sold out, they’ll find space for you. If you’re interested in learning more about which loyalty program might be right for you, check out our article on the best program for every kind of traveler.
Ask the Hotel
If you learn anything from us, we want it to be this: Hotels are your friends! Even if the hotel looks completely sold out online, it never hurts to pick up the phone and call the front desk. They might have a cancellation that hasn’t gone through yet, they might have an affiliated property with rooms available, or they might be able to add you to a waitlist. Either way, they’re a resource of knowledge and information that’s at the ground floor. Their job is to help you, and they’ll usually go out of their way to do so. It can’t hurt to ask.
Start Planning for Next Year
It’s no secret that booking in advance is the key to getting exactly the room you want. Take this chance to research hotels and book rooms for any upcoming trips you have planned. Keep in mind that canceling an unneeded hotel is much easier when you book direct than when you book with a third-party OTA. Take our word for it!
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