Guest Post by Kevin M. Thomas, Director of Sales at the Hotel Mark Twain
San Francisco has developed a reputation as a not so affordable travel destination, and in some ways, this can ring true, particularly for travelers from outside the Bay Area.
However, having been in the tourism business for quite some time, I can tell you that any city has its peaks and valleys when it comes to travel. So if you’re planning a trip to Union Square, or really any metropolitan city, and you’re going for leisure with flexible dates, here are some tips to help you get the most for your money.
First and foremost, always check the city’s convention calendar. San Francisco’s can be found on the SF Travel website here. You might read through this and think there’s a convention every day. Sometimes it sure seems that way – but not all of the conventions seriously impact Union Square. Some really do, though. For instance, Oracle requires 21,298 hotel rooms on its peak night. This is a great time for the conventioneers who will have the red carpet rolled out for them, but if you’re not coming for Oracle, you’d be paying a significantly higher rate for hotels than if you were to visit a week later.
So, how can you tell which conventions have the greatest impact on hotel pricing? Try putting different dates in your search engine. This way, you can save up to hundreds of dollars, which is better spent on the fabulous shops of Union Square.
Let’s find a good date to stay in Union Square and see if we can save money just by being flexible. June is a good example, as it’s the beginning of the city’s most busy times. How about the last weekend of the month? Wrong choice! Unless you’re coming for Gay Pride, the area will be crowded, since the parade is literally down the street. Additionally, this year the American Library Association Conference will take up 8000 rooms that weekend. You can see a convention’s impact by the hotel room rate. When it’s high, it’s either very busy OR anticipates to be very busy. Let’s put this theory to test.
Rates for 3-star Union Square hotels for the weekend of June 26-28 are between $194-399 per night. The good news here is some hotels may not have raised their rates yet, because they are waiting to build some base business. Other hotels opt to keep their rates at a premium, because they know they will likely sell out. So if you’re happy with a $200 rate, lock it in now, as it could change tomorrow.
While those rates aren’t so bad, if you were to visit a week earlier – June 19-21 - when there is only a small convention in town and no parade, the rate range for the same hotels is between $150-250. In fact, you could save about $150 per night!
The quickest way to compare hotel prices is by using a website that lists many different booking sites in one place like Hipmunk or Kayak. These compare most hotels, and you can rank them by their star rating or price. To guarantee you’re staying where all the action is (hint: Union Square!) check out the hotels, events and shops you want to hit at visitunionquaresf.com, and start planning your trip now.
Kevin M. Thomas is the Director of Sales at the Hotel Mark Twain and also is an entertainment blogger for examiner.com and progressivepulse.com. He can be found and followed at @ReelKev & @HotelMarkTwain