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Travel discounts: How to negotiate them

Updated on January 1, 2012

The great thing about a price is that it is merely an offer. In other words, it is merely an invitation to treat – a platform for negotiation. That only means that the price a travel agent, hotel or airline offers is also negotiable.

Of course, for the knowledgeable and audacious among us, getting discounts is not that hard. However, everyone can benefit from knowing how to negotiate travel discounts, which can help you save money on a trip without necessarily sacrificing comfort.

Knowledge is power

As any decent negotiator would tell you, information is critical in the process. However, being a spy is not a prerequisite; all that’s necessary is that you answer “what,” “when,” and “how”:

What travel discounts are available? For instance, membership in certain groups (AARP for e.g.) or travelling as a group may entitle you to group discounts.

When are they available? Some discounts are seasonal or time-limited

How can you qualify? Knowing the basic criteria can be pivotal in obtaining discounts.

Like anything else, shopping around for different prices should also include shopping around for the different discounts on offer. A fair appraisal of competitors is especially handy when you’re haggling over a price.

Airline discounts are fair game as well
Airline discounts are fair game as well
Having the information and the confidence to are simple ways to obtain discounts.
Having the information and the confidence to are simple ways to obtain discounts.

Knowing who to negotiate with

Discount-seeking beginners may make the mistake of attempting to negotiate with the receptionist at a hotel or someone who cannot authorize discounts. It is far better to enter negotiations with the head office or centralized reservation desk.

The reason is that – apart from being authorized, such persons would have a clear idea of the market forces at that time. An under-booked business is likely to work harder for your patronage. When you know who to talk to, you not only get results faster, but you save a lot of time and effort.

Attitude = altitude

The business of travel discounts is not for the meek or timid. Boldness, persistence and even insistence may be a prerequisite in some instances. Simply asking is the first step, but if you are stone-walled, that’s when the persistent but diplomatic approach would be required.

Many companies in the travel industry expect persons to pay the first price quoted, but they can afford to go lower. Asking for a discount empowers the customer. Even if the price cannot be lowered, you might be able to get more at the same price by requesting an upgrade.


Even if you obtain the discount, that is not the end of the story. It is important to look at some of the other aspects of the deal. After all, not everything that is part of the deal (like fine print or hidden charges) would be obvious. In addition, documenting some aspects of the agreement cannot hurt. A name, details and a confirmation number would be some of the basics.

Once the knowledge of how to negotiate travel discounts is there, it would be far easier to obtain them. Think about it. All you need to do is claim the power you have as a customer and start influencing outcomes in your favour.


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