5 Secrets for negotiating the best price every time

No one wants to overpay for a product or service. But how do you know you’re getting the best rate? And if you’re not being offered the lowest price, how do you negotiate it?

Answer: You can’t know — but you can haggle. And how!

A recent survey suggests a quarter of consumers go online to find the lowest price on an item, but it doesn’t say if they find it. Maybe that’s because the answer is unknowable. Businesses, it turns out, can’t be sure if their prices are the lowest, or even if an item that’s on sale will be profitable.
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The 6 best hotels of 2013

The race for favorite hotel chain was a nail-biter right until the end. Marriott edged out InterContinental by just a few votes, with Ritz Carlton coming in a respectable third place.

The “best hotel” category is unusual, because it was open to any hotel chain with a domestic presence, from budget to upscale.
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The 6 best airlines of 2013

In the competition for the best airline of 2013, the real fight was for third place.

Southwest Airlines pulled into the lead the moment the finalists were announced on Tuesday morning. JetBlue Airways held a comfortable second place. But third place was a real horserace, with American, United and Frontier Airlines fighting fighting for it until the poll closed.
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And the best new travel blog of 2011 is …

The votes are in for the best new travel blog of the year. And the results are … inconclusive.

None of the sites received a majority of the votes, and despite my best efforts to keep the voting fair, there were allegations of, ahem, irregularities.

I had hoped to conduct a runoff between the top two sites, but that seems impossible. So there will be no top travel blog of 2011. I’m sorry.
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Hotel reservation agent: “I feel very guilty about lying”

Mary is an in-house reservation agent for an upscale, full-service hotel in a major American city. I’m not using her last name for reasons that will become obvious in a moment.

Mary has a lot on her mind. People who call her hotel to reserve a room are getting ripped off, and she wants to come clean about it. Here’s our interview, which was conducted by phone this morning.

Tell me about what you do.

I work in the in-house reservations department of [a hotel]. When people call the hotel to book a room, they’re put through to me.

What do they say when they’re connected to your department?

Normally, they ask for the best room rate.

And what do you tell them?

I give them what we call the “bar” rate — it stands for “best available rate.”

Is it?

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11 travel blogs you should bookmark in 2011

Which 11 travel blogs should you bookmark next year?

To answer that question, I consulted my feed reader to find out which travel sites I visit most frequently. It’s a methodology I used for last year’s list, too.

Update: Here’s a list of 12 travel bloggers worth following in 2012 and 12 travel Twitter personalities you should follow in 2012.

(Related: Here are the best new travel blogs of 2011. I’ve also just launched a new travel blog of my own called Away is Home that’s worth checking out.)

This list shouldn’t be confused with my definitive list of travel blogs I like, although I happen to like all of these blogs. (That list is on the left side of this page — see “Friends”.) Nor should it be mistaken for your favorites.

By the way, if you’re not signed up for my RSS feed, you can do that right here.

Here we go:
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10 travel blogs you should bookmark in 2010

Which 10 blogs should you bookmark next year?

To answer that question, I consulted my feed reader to find out which travel sites I visit the most often. In the past, I’ve pulled the list out of thin air, but a little methodology never hurts, right?

By the way, I wrote this post before the circus with the Department of Homeland Security started. It’s nice to know that some of these bloggers also read my site.

(Related: Here’s the 2011 list of travel blogs to bookmark and the best new travel blogs of 2011.)

Here they are:
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