Book Directly with the Hotel: Avoid hotel booking sites like Expedia, Trivago, Booking.Com, Orbitz, etc. Hotels have a love/hate relationship with booking sites because they take about 20% of the rate. So that means on a $200 room, the booking site collects $40 from the hotel. Bypassing these sites and going directly to the hotel cuts out the middleman and can result in saving for the consumer. Also, when booking directly with a hotel, sometimes rates for parking, breakfast, and check-in/check-out times are more easily negotiated. Lastly, we have seen travelers who have booked with a third party have trouble getting refunds directly from the hotel in the event of a cancellation.
Never Use a Booking Site but Booking Sites to Your Advantage: For example, Marriott hotels have a lowest price guarantee. If a Marriott hotel is booked directly and a lower price is found elsewhere within 24 hours, Marriott promises to match the lower rate PLUS an additional 25% off. This worked for me when booking a hotel in New York last year when I found a price $35 lower on Trivago. I got the $35 off my rate booked directly with Marriott PLUS an additional 25% off.
Guarantee Payment: Hotels hate it when guests cancel. So, I offer to guarantee my payment when I am almost certain that there is no reason for me to cancel. This can result in significant savings.
Enroll in a Rewards Program: Room upgrades, discounted prices, free breakfast and other perks are available to those with elite status with hotels. But loyalty programs work best if you are indeed loyal to that hotel chain instead of spreading nights among different hotels.