Outside In Hotel Trap

I’m making a trip to meet with Nate in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. One of the recommendations to save money was to “outside in” our hotel. The basic strategy is as such. Hotels at the center of cities and close to the main attractions are more expensive that those on the outside reaches. Instead of getting a hotel right in the middle, you can get a hotel a bit farther away and save a significant amount of money. Instead of getting a hotel on the Las Vegas strip where everyone wants to stay, we could get a hotel a bit off the strip and travel to the strip for attractions we wanted to see.

For Las Vegas, this works wonderfully. Even with the strip being the best known area, there isn’t really a center to Las Vegas and to see all the events you want to see, you’ll usually need to take a cab, bus or monorail to get where you want to go. Instead of paying $95 for a three star hotel room on the strip, we were able to get a four star hotel (the lowest priced four star hotel we could find on the strip wanted $170) off the strip for $89 with a $40 food voucher included. Using the outside in strategy for Las Vegas makes a lot of sense.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, however, when going to some destination. It’s true that the hotels will likely be less expensive outside the main destination, but there are other factors you need to calculate to make sure if it is a good deal or not. The main two are time and travel costs:

  • Time – if you have only a limited time in the destination, do you really want to spend a couple of hours at a minimum traveling back and forth from your hotel when you could be seeing more stuff if you were right there.
  • Travel Costs – it will cost you money to get to and from your hotel. Will the costs of this travel justify the lower hotel cost when added in (since they would not be necessary if you were in the main area)

    I had a friend who also took the outside in approach on his trip to New York. He was able to save over $100 a night by doing this and thought he’d take the trains to get to the places he wanted to go. He found, however, with the limited time that he had and all the places he wanted to see, he needed to resort to taking taxis to get to all the places he wanted. In the end, the hotel that was supposed to save him money actually cost him more.

    When you are looking at hotels that cost $100 less per night for the same amenities, it is easy to fall into the outside in hotel trap and automatically go for the lowest price. This can be a big mistake without taking the above two factors into consideration.

    I would suggest always considering the outside in option when traveling, but always take the time to run the numbers (as should be done with all financial issues) and consider time limitation to make sure the lower price won’t ultimately cost you more.

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    3 Responses to Outside In Hotel Trap

    1. It’s also really helpful if you find a hotel that is a sibling to one of the larger hotels on the strip, often times they’ll have a free shuttle to their sister hotel. i.e. Harrah’s to the Rio, any of the large properties to Sam’s Town, etc.

    2. Next time you are in Vegas try the Orleans. They have large rooms for a rather small price, friendly staff and a free shuttle to the strip. We live in Southern California and drive to Vegas once or twice a year. While it is getting harder you can still find bargains in Vegas.( The steak dinner deal including a beer at Ellis Island for $7.95) I buy most of my clothes in a thrift store chain called Savers. If you make a small donation they will give you a twenty percent off coupon.

    3. bben says:

      After looking at location & price, I have always called the hotels in my range directly. Most of the time I can negotiate a better price. Las Vegas knows there are lots of other hotels competing for my business, and they also count on each customer dropping at least some money in their casino.

      When you call, ask if they have any special deals. I once got a room for $20 a night. There were no conventions that week, and I was there on business for 3 days during the middle of the week. On check in I received a casino card with $10 on it, a coupon for a free breakfast every morning, a coupon for a free Buffet, and some other coupons. My total hotel bill for 2 nights was $28 including all of the taxes and stuff they add. Then the freebies came to at least $30. Essentially a free room. The Hotel was on the strip, Right across the street from Aladin, near Bellagio, and Paris. It is no longer there though.

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