Finding your self in Sydney needing a surprise hotel room can be a tricky situation. During the hot tourism months, the hotels are packed and the beaches are teeming with families, couples, and groups on holiday. Even during the cooler months, it can be tough to find the right accommodations at the last minute. Perhaps your project was extended, or your flight was delayed. Maybe you're taking an impromptu vacation or your previously booked hotel room flooded from top to bottom.
Whatever the reason, when you need a hotel room on the same day you're booking, you've got no time to waste shopping around for open rooms and best deals. At the same time, you still want an enjoyable place to stay and at a rate that won't break the bank. So today, we're here to share our top tips on how to book satisfying last-minute accommodation in Sydney, Australia.
What Not to Do:
You may wonder, during this guide, why we don't suggest walking into a hotel and asking for a room. So let's nip that idea in the bud: Walking in and asking for a room is the #1 way to overpay for a last-minute hotel room. So if money is no object and you're feeling spontaneous, go ahead. But if you want to be clever and frugal, read on.
Just How 'Last Minute' Is It?
The techniques you use will strongly depend on just how last-minute your booking is. Most booking sites and hotels will allow you to book quickly and easily online until check-in time or early evening when the bookings are considered to be 'locked down' for the night. This has been a source of real frustration for travellers who find themselves needing a room around dinner time or later because the darned automated system just won't let you book same-day anymore.
That's okay, don't sweat it. Start by checking your watch to see just how easy or challenging your last-minute booking experience might be. And even if it is late, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves.
If you're booking same-day but before 3PM, there's a good chance that you can use normal online booking options to find a hotel room in the area. If you have a favourite hotel or brand of hotels, check their website to see if same-day booking is still available and if there are any rooms available that meet your needs. Don't go over-budget if the first hotel you check only has the pent-house free. Do a little searching first.
Remember, weekend nights are always more costly than weekday nights, so don't be surprised by this difference. It isn't a last-minute penalty, it's the day-of-the-week cost.
After Online Cut-Off
If you're searching after the online cutoff for your favourite online booking sources, you're going to have to try a few alternate methods. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to book a hotel room at the last minute and -- believe it or not -- the hotels want to help you. By getting in touch directly or using special channels to book, you will almost assuredly find the hotel room you're looking for no matter how last-minute your search may be.
Check a Travel Planning Platform
Step 1 should always be to do a quick check of a hotel booking site. You won't always find the best deals or quality rooms here, but it will give you a generalised view of how many rooms are available in the area you're looking. That said, these sites are notorious for their online cut-off times and most hotels prefer that you book on the hotel site instead. In fact, many hotels offer some great perks for anyone who books directly instead of through a travel platform.
Book Through Your Loyalty Memberships
If you stay with one hotel chain or return to a single hotel on a regular basis, you are more likely to receive a warm welcome as a returning loyal gust. Particularly if you have already signed up for and have been using a loyalty membership account. Many modern hotel chains have loyalty memberships that include special rates, deals, and opportunities for returning guests.
These memberships can also come with preferential treatment and extra helpfulness from the staff on solving problems -- like the need for a last-minute booking. This can be particularly handy if there is a mobile booking app that does not suffer from the cutoff problem and will let you book at the last-minute.
Create a Membership, Then Book
If you don't already have a membership, you may be able to gain access to the same services and mobile app access by quickly creating a new account. For most hotels, you don't have to book a first stay to become a loyalty customer. By making a loyalty membership account, you can access a mobile app and additional customer service channels that may make it possible to book remotely and at the last minute.
Try Live Chat Customer Service
If one of the hotels you are looking into has a live chat option, you may be able to get a real member of the hotel staff online chatting with you about your problems. You may find live chat on their website or through their mobile app, either way it can give you access to the help of a real human who can check on room availability live and override any booking cut-off times that might be enforced through automatic booking.If you're not a phone call person, a live chat feature might be your best bet for booking at the last minute.
Call the Hotel Directly & Book Through Concierge
However, the most reliable way to book at the last minute with a hotel has always been to call the front desk. Even if the website reports being booked up, hotels often have a few cancellations and will actually appreciate your business to fill the empty room. By calling around to your top choice of hotels, you are almost sure to find one that has a room available or a recent cancellation that will provide exactly the last-minute accommodations you need. You can also ask front desk staff to call you back if a room opens up, creating a potential for several opportunities before you really need to check in.
Finding last-minute accommodation that suits your needs is not always easy. Not only does it need to have enough space for you and your travelling party, it also needs to fit within your surprise-hotel budget. Fortunately, hotel concierge staff are almost always willing to check on open rooms, book you in place of cancellations, or even refer you to a sister hotel that has openings if everything is full. Using these techniques, you can book your last-minute Sydney hotel room online, over a mobile app, or with a few friendly phone calls. For more insights into a great Sydney hotel stay, contact us today!