Do hotel & resort prices change constantly? RatePunk tracked prices for half a year to find out
What's the best time to book hotels and resorts? Is there any? RatePunk tracked over 3,000 hotel & resort prices to find out how they change over time and what pricing tendencies will be in 2024.
One of the best-known hacks to score cheap flight deals is to check the prices regularly, as prices change constantly. But what about hotels & resorts?
RatePunk tracked how the price of over 3,000 hotels & resorts changed on Booking.com for half a year before the user's check-in date. Read on to find:
- visuals of six hotel & resort price changes
- the main tendencies noticed
- the reasons behind accommodation price fluctuations
- the most popular myths busted.
Hotel prices actually change a lot
"The most surprising thing was that from over 3,000 hotels tracked, there was no tendency that would allow saying that there's a certain "best time" to book hotels to get the best price," states Justin Albertynas, the CEO of RatePunk.
However, the tracked resorts showed an obvious tendency.
For visualization, RatePunk picked one hotel and three resorts located in the same country (Thailand) and shared their price changes tracked every few days (the method explained at the end of the article) for at least six months before the check-in date.
"As seen from the hotel chart example, the main tendency with hotel pricing is that hotel prices fluctuate almost constantly. Travelers seeking the best hotel rate must start looking at their wanted hotel early and track the changes - just like many of them have been doing with flights in recent years," the tendencies of booking hotels in 2024, comments Justin Albertynas.
A more obvious tendency is seen in the changes in resort pricing. In around 70% of the analyzed resort cases, the prices were lowest 6-7 months before check-in. As getting closer to the check-in date, resort prices steadily grew.
What causes these price changes?
"One of the reasons for hotel price fluctuation is room availability. Actually, non-availability would be more accurate. Free-cancellation rooms have the highest demand, and plenty of them get canceled, returning the previously unavailable rooms into the market," says Justin.
Here's an example of a 3-night stay hotel price change in Vietnam. Two sharp price fluctuations can be seen in October & November. The cheapest price detected on Booking.com went from approximately $150 to $250-$300.
The hotel has multiple rooms, from Standard ones to Executive Family Suites. The sharp changes were caused by the sold-out cheaper room types, which later got canceled & returned to the booking website's listing.
Change of demand
Most hotels use revenue management systems and various algorithms to adjust their room rates according to the demand for specific dates. If it's low, the software reduces prices to attract guests to book the empty rooms, and when the demand grows (for example, during the peak travel season), prices rise automatically.
It's also similar when booking website activity increases: if many travelers look at the same hotel, the prices automatically jump, and after a while, they return to regular. Intense searching from one IP address is also part of the hotel demand pricing system. If travelers repeatedly return to the same hotel, booking websites increase the price (that's where the "book incognito" hack comes from).
Myth: Hotel prices don't fluctuate.
While travelers are aware of flight prices fluctuating, it's still believed that hotel rates are set.
Truth: Actually, hotel prices change constantly. These fluctuations depend on uncontrollable factors such as room availability and hotel revenue management systems.
Myth: Saturdays & Sundays are the best times to book hotels.
That's one of the first "tips" to come up when Googling about the best times to book hotels. The argument behind this is that prices are at their lowest when people are traveling most and not searching for hotels.
Truth: As nice as it would be, RatePunk noticed plenty of hotel price increases on weekends, too. Booking on Saturdays & Sundays is neither cheaper nor more expensive - the best time to book is when the price drops, which can happen anytime.
Myth: Booking far in advance guarantees a better hotel price.
Truth: Booking far in advance often guarantees better resorts but not hotel prices. While some hotel prices were really lowest at the moment of price tracking activation, some had major rate drops a few months before the check-in date.
"Booking a hotel far in advance limits the possibility of catching sharp price drops closer to the check-in date, which, as we see from the charts, could save up to a few hundred dollars in some cases," Justin says.
Here's an example of a hotel in Tenerife, Spain. Price tracking was only activated a few months before the check-in date, and the price significantly dropped from almost $1400 to less than $1000 around a month before the check-in.
TIPS to catch the lowest hotel price in 2024
Booking RESORTS 6-7 months before the check-in. It's seen that flight & hotel prices jump & drop whenever, but there's a tendency with resorts. It's best to book them 6-7 months before the check-in day.
Tracking the prices. Obvious yet the most effective. When planning a trip well in advance, there's a significant chance that the first-seen price won't be the cheapest, and travelers can win by waiting for that price to drop.
Booking free-cancellation & rebooking. The charts show that significant hotel price drops happen closer to check-in. Booking a free-cancellation room well in advance and then continuing to track the prices afterward is the safest & most efficient way to score the lowest price. The same could be done when booking resorts, too.
RatePunk Rebooking automatically tracks the price of already booked free-cancellation rooms & sends notifications when the price drops.
RatePunk had over 3,000 hotel price-tracking requests last year. Every time a request was sent, RatePunk started tracking the prices of that particular hotel until the check-in date. The prices were tracked for the dates the user had chosen, and the rate of the cheapest room was always included (the room type wasn’t considered).
The frequency of when the price was checked depended on how far the check-in date was from the price tracker activation date.
Find more of RatePunk's findings & predictions on the RatePunk Expertise page HERE.