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Sure, airfares are set to reach record lows this month, but that means zilch if you still have to shell out zillions for a hotel.

Here, nine ways to score a better deal.

NewHotel

Book at a Brand-New Hotel

Chances are, it’s not at full capacity, which can help you lock in a cheaper rate.

grandbudapest

Don’t Be an Early Bird

It may not change the price, but planning for a late check-in (say, after 6 p.m.) could help you score a free upgrade or balcony view. Here’s why: Most hotels set check-in time for after 1 p.m. By early evening, it’s pretty clear to the front desk which of the fancy rooms are taken--and which will remain vacant throughout the night.

KerryWashington

Negotiate (Over the Phone)

Yep, talking to a real live person--and negotiating--is the way to secure an extra-sweet deal. A few tips: Call the front desk, not the toll-free reservations number, and don’t call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (that’s considered rush hour). Then, when you do get a human being on the line, see if you can negotiate a price that’s about 20 percent lower than the going rate on Orbitz or Expedia. (Booking sites often make a 30 percent commission, so it actually saves the hotel money if you book directly.)

friends

Don’t Be Shy About Special Occasions

Maybe it’s your wedding anniversary or a big-deal birthday--or maybe it’s just a weekend away from the kids. Email the hotel’s general manager to give them a heads-up. It may boost your chances of getting a special deal.

checkinHotel

Stay for More Than One Night

A multi-night stay means less work for the hotel, since they won’t have to turn over the room. Call and mention your plans to a manager--it should help you lock down a better rate.

DowntownMiami

Book in the Business District

For weekend travelers, this is especially important: Hotels in the financial district of any city are jam-packed Monday through Friday but tend to totally clear out come the weekend. All hail supply and demand.

SJP

Clear Your Cookies

If you are going to book online, clear your cache first. Sites know when you’ve looked up “hotels in Akron” 19 times and will sneakily up the room rates.

Cash

Slip ’Em Some Cash

Hey, baller: When you check in, give the gal at the front desk a 20 right along with your credit card and ID. Travelers--and hotel staffers--report that it all but guarantees free upgrades and special perks.

tripadvisor

Remind Them That You’re on TripAdvisor

A positive review is the number one incentive for a hotel to help you get the most out of your stay. Free breakfast, here you come.

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