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Strategy Session: When two reservations cost less than one

Is there an OTA hotel booking website where all combinations of dates are checked to find the lowest rate?

A website with a combinatorial search function could save me lots of time.

For example, a 3-night stay in a city has six combinations of possible hotel rate checks using all the combinations for the three dates: A, B, C, A-B, A-C, A-B-C.

My experience shows that booking the three night stay, A-B-C, can mean paying a much higher rate than otherwise necessary.

Changing the letters to dates, assume  I need a hotel stay March 1-3, 2013. The total cost of the hotel can vary among the different date combinations I use for the reservation.

  • March 1-3 (3 nights)
  • March 1-2 (2 nights)
  • March 2-3 (2 nights)
  • March 1 (1 night)
  • March 2 (1 night)
  • March 3 (1 night)

Most of us will probably first check hotel booking sites for the three night stay, March 1-3. Many travelers will not go beyond the rate search for the 3-night stay to check rates using the other combinations of dates.

FACT: Hotel rates often vary on extended stays depending on how you input the stay dates.

Hotel Rate Revenue Managers are not the traveler’s friend.

My experience reveals only checking the three night stay option can mean paying a much higher rate than otherwise necessary. One of the selling points of a hotel loyalty program from the hotelier’s viewpoint is sophisticated revenue management software that works to get more money from customer reservations.

The rate analysis below illustrates this point of tricky room rates.

Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center is an example where booking a four night reservation is far more more costly than booking two separate reservations for stays over the same four nights.


Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center = $169 per night on a 4-night stay.

Total rate Feb 17-21, 2013 = $722.31

By making two different reservations for these same dates I can reduce the total hotel rate by over $200.

Sunday, Feb 17 $119 for the same 2 room suite with 2 Double Beds.


Sunday Feb 17 Best Available Rate = $119. After tax the room rate = $127.15.

Monday, Feb 18 – Thursday, Feb 21 (3 nights) Room rate = $119 (BAR).


Feb 18-Feb 21 (3 nights) Total rate after tax = $381.45.

Two separate reservations for Sun. Feb 17 (1 night) and Mon-Thu Feb 18-21 (3 nights)  reduce the four night rate at Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center by $213.71.

The room rate for four nights at Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center drops from $722.31 down to $508.60 just by breaking the four night single reservation (Feb 17-Feb 21) into two separate reservations (Feb 17; Feb 18-21) for two stays on consecutive nights.

The hotel will simply combine your two reservations. At least that has always happened over the dozens of times I have made separate reservations to reduce my overall rate for a single hotel stay. And the savings is more than $200 on this Embassy Suites hotel stay making two separate reservations.

Hilton’s flexible dates function simplifies the process for Hilton brand hotels.

Hilton does have a flexible date function to quickly see different date combinations. But this function only works at the specific property level.

Embassy Suites Denver Tech Center – Flexible dates search


Flexible Dates rate check for 1-night stays. This shows $119 for Sunday, Feb 17.


Flexible Dates rate check for 2-night stays. Lowest rate is $141 for Monday, Feb 18 to Wednesday Feb 20.


Flexible Dates rate check for 3-night stays. Lowest rate is Feb 18-21 at $113 for Monday, Feb 18 to Thursday Feb 21.


Flexible Dates rate check for 4-night stays. Lowest rate is Feb 18-22 at $113 for Monday, Feb 18 to Friday Feb 22. The dates Sun Feb 17-Thu Feb 21 show a rate of $169 per night. This Loyalty Traveler post showed how to reduce that rate with two reservations.

To repeat: Hotel revenue managers are not your friend. Their job is to figure out how to get the guest to spend more money. My job is to counter their tactics and help readers spend less money.

Please point me to a website that does this function to help check rates for extended stays across hotel brands or else this an idea for a hotel website booking app for entrepreneurial techies to develop.

Hilton does a good job with its flexible rates search, but even this one chain is a time-consuming process to check dates for individual hotels in a city like Denver where there are over 40 Hilton brand properties.

This loyalty traveler sleeps around and good promotions for earning free nights and bonus points with Best Western, Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards and Red Lion have me checking lots of options for my upcoming travels.


  • bluecat February 15, 2013

    Same idea holds for car rentals. Sometimes it is much cheaper to rent for one day separately from the rest because, for the 2nd rental, you can get a weekend rate. I just did this for an upcoming trip in Vegas…

  • Ric Garrido February 15, 2013

    @bluecat – I found this to be the case too with a recent reservation. Late night airport arrival on a Sunday and I thought I would get a hotel room at the airport Sunday night and pick up a car Monday.

    Turns out that picking up the car Sunday night rather than Monday morning cut the total rental rate by 35% even with the additional day.

  • Clare February 15, 2013

    There was a TV program recently where they quoted a Marriott executive as saying that Sunday night was the best night to obtain a low rate. So now I check Sunday night for the lowest rate and unbundle it from the adjacent nights if it gives me a lower total.

  • Dan February 15, 2013

    I have done this numerous times. A common spin off of this is if you need to stay we’d and thu night you also book fri night and likely get a much lower rate then cancel fri night because plans changed.

    Other times it’s because of quirky room availability issues so the hotel gives you the highest room rate because on one night there is high use age there or rooms have been held off for a possible conference only to be released later on.

  • P T February 16, 2013

    THank you. I never thought of this. Always something new to learn.

  • Steve B February 16, 2013

    Great advice but as you say really needs a consolidator website to do the work, any budding entrepreneurs out there!

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