Dennis Yu

Hotel Booking Secrets Revealed!

Sad, but I found out that I flew 306,000 miles last year and spent over 200 nights in hotels. And after a few years of living in hotels across this planet, you, lovely reader, get to benefit from my mistakes. is disrupting the hotel industry

If you haven’t heard, it’s where people are renting out rooms in their houses, apartments, trailers, tree house, boats, and whatever. Kid you not!

I’ve gotten decent rooms for $30 a night in NYC, as opposed to paying $250 for a 2-star when some event (Hurricane Sandy) has sold out the area. If you’re a family, you can select the option for the whole house with however many bedrooms.

Sometimes it’s not cheaper than, which I’ll get to in a second. And if you’re weirded out about staying at some random person’s place– I totally get that. You can talk to folks beforehand, read reviews, plus see how many friends you have in common.

I’ve done this for a few months and I’ve had consistently great experiences. I believe these hosts like to meet new people, for the same reason families take on international exchange students.

If you need just one night, don’t have time to chit-chat, are in a city that has cheap hotels already (the Midwest, Orlando, Phoenix), need to be in an exact place, or aren’t the one footing the bill, then isn’t right for you.

Find the same hotel cheaper on

And if you don’t really care what particular hotel you’re staying at, usually this is the cheapest. You pick an area, star rating, and date– then they give you options.

My trick is to look for anything that is at least 80% positively reviewed. I’ll take a 95% rated 2.5 star over a 60% rated 3.5 star any day. The highly rated 2.5 star is probably a Holiday Inn Express, because of the free breakfast. Note, the regular Holiday Inn (not the same thing) is a 3-star.

There is no difference between a 3.5 star and a 4 star unless you really care about 24-hour room service, which is overpriced anyway.

If you’re staying in Vegas, watch for the hidden fees– usually called a “resort fee”. It can be as high as $35 a night and only folks like the Stratosphere will let you remove it– but you have to be insistent. The general best deal is at the Rio, where you can get a 600-square-foot suite for $50 a night, then take the shuttle to the strip. No resort fees, either.

Hotwire charges fees that are blended into the taxes, so you don’t know their cut.  Sometimes this fee will make the price higher than what the hotel costs directly to book, even though the daily rate may appear lower.

Further, when they say you’re saving 35% off the rate, for example– you’re not saving off that particular hotel’s rate, but the average rate of all similar hotels in that area.

I stay at hotels often enough that I usually know which hotel it is based on the star rating, area, and reviews. For example, if you see a 3.5-star hotel near Louisville Airport, then it’s the Crowne Plaza. And if you see a 3-star in the North Strip rated 80%, it’s the Stratosphere. New York and LAX are a bit harder since there are more hotels there.

Go off the TripAdvisor rating, not the rating. They will show both to you.  If you’ve stayed at that hotel before, they might show “no ratings”, when really they’re just hiding it from you. If it shows “X people have booked in the last 24 hours”, but says no ratings, then that’s a clear giveaway.

You supposedly can’t earn points when you use or other 3rd party booking sites. But you should present your Hilton, SPG, Southwest, or whatever card anyway. Sometimes (usually not), they’ll credit you with a stay.

If you ask nicely, sometimes they’ll give you a room upgrade. Never underestimate the power of a clerk to help you or hurt you, too.

If you’re staying for multiple days, but aren’t sure about the hotel, then you can book one night to see. They’ll often give you the option to extend that particular booking at the same price. If not, you can always create a new booking– just remember what I said about them hiding the reviews from you.

Hotwire shows rates in another tab. Usually, they are not cheaper, but if they are, has a money-back guarantee. It’s a pain in the butt to collect on it, so don’t bother unless it’s over $100. has better service than and for that reason alone, I don’t search Priceline unless Hotwire doesn’t have anything.

Hotwire will let you refund the stay if you’re a frequent traveler and claim that you made a mistake. If you’re not a frequent customer, they’ll let you book in another city or date range. Try this with and they’ll stonewall you.  But you can get to allow you to rebook, as long as it’s the same star rating in the same area for the same dates on a “name your price” booking.

You can’t specify beds on Priceline, so don’t do it if you have 2 or more people. The “name your price” option is normally cheaper than Hotwire, but you better know exactly what the market rates are. Even if you get a cheaper price, it could be a 3-star hotel with 15% positive ratings.

I’d be willing to pay a lot more for a 3-star with 90% positive reviews than a 3-star with 10% reviews. Anything less than 75% and you’re just asking for trouble.

International travel

The major sites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc) work just fine for the United States and Canada– I consider Canada to be an extension of the United States– at least from a hotel-booking standpoint.

But know that star ratings don’t matter in Europe or Latin America. In fact, you’ll see listings for a 4-star hotel abroad— great pictures– but upon check-in, find a total dump. Verify it by looking at the reviews on TripAdvisor, Google, or wherever. Never trust the hotel’s own site.

In Europe, many hotels will have poor ratings but aren’t necessarily that bad. Americans are used to big hotel rooms, so take this into account.

Scams and tricks

Many of these guys will pre-check the box on “trip protection” insurance or other stuff. Decline it, of course. Sometimes they move around where the upsell is. And often, they will make it say “Yes, I want to buy it” or “Yes, I want to decline it”– so be careful to make sure if you’re really declining it or not.

Saving time

You can literally spend hours researching every single hotel. I will often use a service like FancyHands to do this for me– costs a couple of dollars a task. You specify what you want and their agents do the research, even making phone calls and bookings on your behalf. More about it here.

Bonus pro tips

Hotel wifi is a scam. If it’s 3 stars or less, they give it to you for free. But often, if you have a T-mobile, AT&T, or Boingo account, you can get into the hotel’s wifi under the “roaming” option.  And if you ask the front desk nicely, they’ll usually just give you a code.

The airport shuttle is a big deal for me. I don’t drive, nor do I want to drive– since the car rental return is a whole other game we can talk about later. Often hotels have an airport shuttle, but it’s not listed on or Expedia. Factor this into the price of your hotel and the peace of mind factor.

If you want two beds, mark your booking as having 4 people, even if it’s just two people. 4 people will usually force two beds. If you put 3 people, they will assume you can all cram into a queen. Not pleasant if you’re 3 guys that are friends, but not “that” close as friends.

Avoiding nightmares

The first thing I do when I enter the hotel room is put the “do not disturb” hanger on the door. You don’t want housekeeping coming in at 8 am ruining your good night’s sleep.

I’ve had them even come in without announcing themselves– not nice. And once, a hotel (it was an Extended Stay– avoid them) gave me a key to a room still occupied. Let’s just say these guests were “busy”.

When getting a room, ask to make sure it’s not next to the elevator. If you don’t specify that you want a quiet room and you checked in late, they’ll try to give this to you. If you go via Hotwire or Priceline, you’re highly likely to get such a room unless you say something.

Don’t book a hotel/flight/car package. That’s just a way to get you to spend more money without really getting a better deal than if you bought separately.

If you get bad service (hey, it happens), don’t waste your time with the assistant manager or other folks who aren’t really managers. Get the General Manager to call you back at a specific time. Barring that, message them on Facebook and Twitter– then they’ll have to respond. Leave the emotion out of it. State the facts of what happened and what you’d like them to do to fix it. Free breakfast is easy, while a free night is harder.

There you have it! Thanks for spending time with me. I hope you’ve learned a few expert tips that will save you money and headache later. Let me know in the comments below what you think– love to hear your stories!

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads. He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations. You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel. You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.
I'm a member of Blitzmetrics Academy and a friend of Dennis to boot. Not only is Dennis highly intelligent and full of great and creative ideas, he's also incredibly generous with both his knowledge and his time. Success couldn't come to a better guy. Thank you for all that you do for the world, Dennis! 🙏

Michael Pacheco


Thanks 🙏 for being shining light in this industry. Love what your building for works overseas too network for jobs so innovative. Dennis helped me navigate having bad experiences with marketing agencies and doing dollar a day marketing which has helped my personal brand tremendously. Highly recommend.

Eric Skeldon

Founder at Kingdom Broker

Working with Dennis has been a delightful experience. After meeting him in 2015 I got to collaborate with him on countless occasions. His understanding for state-of-the-art marketing, his implementation, and his leadership put him into the top 0.01% of marketers and mentors.

Jan Koch

Ihr kompetenter Partner für innovative KI-Strategien.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dennis for my podcast in 2021 and since then we have maintained a friendship that grows with each interaction. I have seen Dennis' devotion to his friends and clients firsthand, and our conversations often result in us talking about how we can provide more value to the people around us. He is someone whom I can ask questions on a technical level, and look to on a personal level. If you have any hesitancy about hiring him, get over yourself and do it!

Isaac Mashman

Help scaling personal brands.

Geez, where do I start recommending Dennis? First, he is an absolutely brilliant marketer who understands where marketing is today and where it's going tomorrow. He also has an incredible passion for the International Worker community. The lessons he has taught me from his almost 20 years of experience hiring International Workers have been immense. Most importantly though. Dennis Yu is someone who wants the absolute best for you and is willing to tell you the truth. Dennis sat with me at a point in my business where I was floundering but did not want to admit it. He asked some very straight forward questions to get me to admit my issues, highlighted the issues, and then helped me create a roadmap to success.

Atiba de Souza

International Keynote Speaker | Video Content Superman | Superconnector |

Dennis, which I had the pleasure of working with is one of the most giving, honest and tell you as it is person I ever know. The knowledge this man has is remarkable and he just gives it out freely. He is not pretentious and always entertain anyone big or small in the industry always willing to help. If you ever get a golden opportunity to work with him or mentored by him say YES!. You will notr regret Dennis, which I had the pleasure of working with is one of the most giving, honest and tell you as it is person I ever know. The knowledge this man has is remarkable and he just gives it out freely. He is not pretentious and always entertain anyone big or small in the industry always willing to help. If you ever get a golden opportunity to work with him or mentored by him say YES!. You will not regret

Nixon Lee

The PR Whisperer

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