Over the past 14 years, Wendy G. has worked her way up from hotel front desks to operations and beyond. She’s trained hotel reservationists to negotiate prices… and she knows better than anyone how to work the system.

Here are her five tips for getting a great deal on hotels with three or more stars:

1. Book directly with the hotel.

Call the front desk and ask to speak with the “on-site reservationist.” Avoid the reservations 800 number, which will usually connect you to an outside company that isn’t open to negotiation and can’t access the best deals.

2. Appeal to the “human factor” for negotiating power.

Once you get an on-site reservationist on the phone, let her know why you’re excited about going to that particular hotel. Going on your honeymoon? Let your excitement show.

3. Be nice.

“If you’re nice,” Wendy told me, “you’re much more likely to get what you want. If you’re unkind, you’ll pay full price for the room by the elevator.”

4. Try someone else.

If you still don’t get the deal you’re looking for, call back a few hours later to see if you can catch someone on the next shift.

5. Ask for a nicer room.

If you’re already getting a discount, you’ll be less likely to get upgraded to a nicer room for free. But if you’re paying full rate, make sure you ask if a room upgrade is available.

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