Alexandre Zveiger/1223rf.com

With so many hotel options, third-party booking sites and travel resources (both online and offline) out there, sifting through the overwhelming amount of information quickly becomes both migraine-inducing and time-consuming. And while there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to finding the best hotel room, there are definitely some industry tips and expert tricks that can help in ensuring that whenever you book a hotel room, you’re guaranteed the best deal possible.

Do your research

Though tempting it may be simply to accept the first attractive offer you find, it’s always worth your while (and your wallet) to do your research. “When it comes to booking travels, and especially booking hotel stays, there’s still no substitute for extensive research,” says Jonathan Lechtman, owner and managing director of Travel Republic Africa, a bespoke luxury tour operator that specialises in travel in and around the African continent.

The travel and tourism expert further adds that “you don’t need to necessarily spend hours online trying to find the best deal out there; consulting with an established and reputable travel professional or company can do the same trick, and further provides access to insider information and industry portals and resources that you may not otherwise ever encounter.”

It pays to compare. Though you may have your heart set on staying in a given hotel that you’ve seen promoted on Facebook, by merely going ahead and booking a stay without comparing other options in your chosen destination may leave you missing out on not only a great deal but also on a potentially unforgettable novel experience.

Because of the extremely competitive nature of the industry, hotels have to go the extra mile to distinguish themselves from their competitors, both in terms of their rates and their overall offerings. This means that comparing a variety of lodging options – from large international hotel groups to independent boutique inns – will give you a far better understanding of what’s available, and at what cost. Thanks to the Internet, it’s literally never been easier (or quicker) to access a myriad of quotes from a variety of different hotels in a single location.

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Timing is crucial

“Many people outside of the industry aren’t fully aware that the time of year you book your hotel room can actually have a drastic effect on the final rate you receive,” says Lechtman. In order to secure the best deal, it is, therefore, advisable not only to check different hotel options, but also to be open to altering your travel dates, should the rates be a primary concern for you.

“It’s obviously understood that it’s generally cheaper to travel during off-peak seasons,” adds the Travel Republic Africa director. “But there can also often be extenuating circumstances, such as a major festival or event, that mean pushing your travel dates out by even a few days can result in major savings.”

Look for specials on social media

In today’s world of hashtag-loving, Insta-story-snapping social media ubiquity, businesses are using social media platforms to engage with customers in ways that were previously not possible. Though it’s certainly not always the case with all hotels, many establishments first publish specials across their social media channels before promoting them elsewhere.

If there’s a particular resort or accommodation where you’re really keen to stay, it’s definitely worthwhile following them on your favourite social network. You can even go a step further and prioritise them in your settings so as to make sure you’re always notified whenever they post something online. That way you’ll be first to know when a special rate or deal is released.

Reap the rewards

We’re all familiar with credit card and retail store loyalty programmes that reward customers for their continuous support. Not only do some of the world’s most popular hotel groups and chains have reward programmes that can be used to redeem points in exchange for hotel stays, but now even online booking sites and fare aggregators, such as Hotels.com, boast their own rewards deals too.

If there’s a particular hotel group you enjoy staying at when travelling abroad, it makes sense to join that company’s reward programme. The benefits can be great and you may even land a freebie or two. The best deals will invariably require little effort on your part (and no major additional expenditure) while providing a host of welcome benefits, such as the Hilton group’s Hilton Honors programme, which entitles you to earn points as well as airline miles on a single stay.

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If all else fails, ask

Taking everything else into account, a direct enquiry with the specific hotel in which you’re interested can lead to some surprising and unexpected deals. “In today’s fast-paced, world of emails, social media and instant online gratification, many people neglect to use one of the most tried-and-tested ways of securing a great deal, that being a direct enquiry with the hotel of your choice,” recommends Lechtman.

The travel and tourism professional concludes that “though of course, it can never be guaranteed, making an actual phone call (or even just sending a personalised email) to the hotel and asking whether there are any specials or promotions you may take advantage of can result in some major treasures. This is particularly relevant for those longer stays at a hotel, primarily due to the fact that hotels are generally rather keen to provide a deal or discount for an extended stay. At the end of the day, there’s no harm in asking. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!”

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This story originally appeared in Silverkris.