Over the past 20 years, I’ve stayed at many hotels in the United States and around the globe. When I was 22 years old, I was hired to referee men’s college basketball, which meant that I traveled quite a bit, including games at the University of Hawaii and the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage.

I’ve learned quite a few tricks that make my hotel stay better, and I can share some with you. You may know some of these tactics, but others might be new to you.

For “Friendly” Discounts, Call the Hotel Directly

Like many people, I do my hotel searches on the web. I like to use aggregate websites, such as Orbitz or Hotels.com. Once I have a general idea regarding the pricing among the hotels of interest, I select the one that offers the most amenities. While the online sites generate competitive pricing, I will sometimes call the hotel directly to discuss details. For example, I want to know the type of breakfast (full vs. continental) offered in the morning, and whether Wi-Fi access is included in the price.

When calling the hotel, I sometimes use this joking line: “Mark, I’m sure you can beat the Orbitz price! After all, don’t I sound like a terrific customer?” After a laugh, Mark is likely to respond by saying, “Let me see what I can do.” In most cases, he will beat the online price, even if just by 5%.

Don’t Buy the Water!

Bottled water is expensive at hotels. You can expect to pay $4 or more for this fine beverage. Before arriving at the hotel, I will usually buy a cheap bottle of water from a convenience store. Once I have the bottle, I can fill it up at the fitness room. Even if you don’t work out, you can still drink the water. If you wish to save even a bit more money, you can take an empty container with you, such as a Contingo.

Stay at Hotels that Offer Breakfast and Lounge Options

When traveling to Davao, Philippines, I always stay at the Marco Polo. I usually pay a $30 or so “premium” price to have breakfast and lounge access included. I like the breakfast option because there is no reason to leave the hotel early in the morning. In the evenings, you can relax by having drinks and hors d’oeuvres. When traveling for business, I’m usually alone, which makes eating at the hotel a good option.

There are many hotels here in the States in which both breakfast and evening snacks are provided, and it doesn’t cost extra. When doing your online searches, look for hotels that offer more bang for your buck.

After 9/11, traveling became more difficult. When arriving at my hotel, I want to have the amenities that are important to me. I look for hotels that offer most of what I need without leaving the building. In fact, if my meeting is at the hotel, I make sure that shuttle service is included.

Thus, saving money is a small part of this discussion. The bigger benefits are saving time and the peace of mind that you have what you need for a comfortable and productive stay.