To pre-pay or not to prepay for hotel room

Prepayment at hotels: depending on your travel plans and company preferences it can be advantageous as well as disadvantageous. Learn when to prepay and when to pay at the hotel.

Prepayment at hotels: depending on your travel plans and company preferences it can be advantageous as well as disadvantageous. Learn when to prepay and when to pay at the hotel.

By Jessica Freedman

prepay hotel

The landscape of business travel is constantly changing. With more and more businesses being concerned about costs, it’s only normal that they are looking for the next big thing when it comes to travel deals. One strategy that is becoming more popular among cost-conscious businesses is prepayment at hotels. While there are some advantages and some disadvantages, it’s important to understand the whole panorama in order to make an informed decision.

We will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of prepayment, offering insights into how it can impact your bottom line if your travel plans are set in stone, unlocking savings and allowing your business to allocate budget to other parts of T&E. On the other hand, prepayment can come with a heavy hand, meaning inflexibility, lack of control, and what happens if your plans change? 

Keep reading to find out everything you ever wanted to know about prepayment.

Cost effectiveness

Many business travelers are faced with tight budgets to adhere to, that must be spread across a per diem for meals, transportation, client invitations, and accommodations. It’s easy for the budget to go fast when traveling. With a restricted budget comes the need to look for cost savings anywhere possible. Key in prepayment: it can allow for access to discounted rates, allowing you to save money compared to paying when you check in.


Hotels often offer lower prices for early bookings. By planning ahead, and prepaying for hotel rooms, it can be an excellent way to cut back on overall travel costs, and at the same time budget more effectively because you will know exactly how much you’ve spent on accommodation in advance.

Peace of mind

Pre-paying for a hotel room provides peace of mind by guaranteeing your reservation in advance. In the off chance something should go wrong, the hotel will be obliged to put you up in an equivalent or higher star hotel. With a guarantee you can ensure you have a comfortable place to stay upon arrival, especially if you have to travel for business during the peak season. You can also be sure to lock in a deal ahead of time no matter if there is a sudden price increase or issue with availability. As an employer or finance manager, this helps you to better manage the budget and be sure you stay on track. 

Streamlined travel

Streamlined experience

Often when traveling for business there is a quick turnaround time between the moment you arrive at the hotel to drop off your luggage and have to run out to get to your first meeting. In fact, many times you may not even pass through the reception, and have to go straight to meetings with your carry-on. This is where prepayment can really streamline your process.

Looking for more ways to streamline your processes? Find out how to unlock efficiency by consolidating on one travel platform. 

Prepayment can eliminate the need to pay for your room upon arrival, avoiding delays, allowing you to save time and get to your room more quickly to drop off your things or get a good night’s sleep.

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Insider tip

Prepayment doesn’t have to equate to rigidity. While it is common for prepaid rates to be non-refundable, this is not always the case. Some hotels will allow for flexible cancellation policies regardless, allowing travelers to adapt to unforeseen circumstances without having to pay hefty cancellation fees.

Learn more about pre-paid rates on the GetGoing platform. 

Disadvantages of prepayment

Prepayment gets a bad rap for being inflexible especially when it comes to business travel that often needs more flexibility to change or modify trip plans due to many different factors.

Limited flexibility

Prepayment can often mean strict cancellation policies, and that you may lose your money should your travel plans change. Usually to lock in a better rate, you also have to forgo some flexibility, and have a non-refundable rate, or lose a percentage of your booking fees should you have to cancel or change your reservation last minute. 

Plans can change

If your plans change, whether you have a personal emergency or flight delay, or your business meeting gets canceled at the last minute, it is very possible that you may not be able to get a refund or change your reservation without being penalized. Penalties can be small, large or you may lose the full amount of the reservation. 

Lack of control

Since you will have already paid for your room ahead of time, if things come up or if the service is not up to pay, or you have issues or concerns, the hotel may be less willing to address them. However, if you are staying at a good hotel, this should be a non-issue. The lack of control can also be due to the fact that you are unable to make changes or have any hiccups in the way without being penalized somehow.

Without a doubt, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of these different factors, whether potential cost savings are stronger than having flexibility and control over your reservation and being able to change plans should you need.

When it’s better not to pre-pay for a hotel

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be waiting on certain factors that don’t depend on you, this is when prepaying is not a good idea because you can’t control the circumstances as to when is the right time to travel. This is when it might be a better idea to choose a rate that allows more flexibility. If your business travel plans are up in the air, then it’s always a good idea to book a flexible rate. If as a business you want more control, then avoiding pre-payment could be a good idea.

Summary of tips for maximizing the advantages of prepayment

Prepayment is more than just about savings, it’s about keeping control of your budget and providing the smoothest travel experience for your travelers. 

Be sure to plan ahead. When it comes to prepayment, to get the best deal try to take advantage of early bird discounts by booking ahead of time
Read the small letters: As a business it’s important to cover your back, make sure you know and are aware of the terms and conditions, and cancellation policies to ensure you are making the best decision for your company.  
Stay in control. Make sure you have clearly lined out the conditions for booking a prepaid room in your travel policy.

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