Traveling after the death of a loved one is never easy. Not only do you have to plan time off work for bereavement leave, but you also might need to navigate special bereavement flights and other discounted travel. If you’re traveling somewhere far away, you might also need a hotel room to stay close to the family or the funeral.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Hotels Offer a Bereavement Discount or Special Rate?
- How to Get a Hotel Bereavement Discount at Participating Hotels
- Tips for Getting a Lower Rate at Hotels That Don’t Offer Discounts
While planning these arrangements is undoubtedly stressful, it’s not always as expensive as you might think. Many hotels offer what’s known as bereavement hotel rates and other discounts. These are special rates or offers that apply for those booking a hotel room in the event of a death or grave illness of a family member.
If you’re attending a relatives funeral or tending to a sick family member, you might be eligible for a lower cost hotel rate. Because these are typically last-minute bookings, this is a great way to keep costs low so you can focus on your family.
What Hotels Offer a Bereavement Discount or Special Rate?
Bereavement rates and special discounts are offered by a number of hotel chains across the United States. While you’re unlikely to find these listed on the hotel’s website or other third-party travel platforms, calling the hotel directly is the best way to learn what options are available.
These aren’t standard, regular rates, and they do go up and down depending on the time of the year. Let’s take a look at the bereavement policy for the most common hotel brands you’re likely to encounter in your travels.
- Best Western: The Best Western bereavement policy depends on the specific property. Many Best Western hotels offer lower-cost deals on nightly stays for those traveling for family emergencies or funerals. Contact the hotel directly for their best rates.
- Crowne Plaza: Crowne Plaza is owned by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). If you’re an IHG Reward member, there are many discounts and rates available at Crowne Plazas. If you contact customer support, they might offer additional deals for bereavement bookings. It is free to sign up for the IHG Rewards program.
- Drury Hotels: Drury Hotels occasionally partners with local funeral homes to offer discounted rates for those using the services of a partnered funeral home. Check their locations to see if this is available for your stay.
- Four Seasons: Because Four Seasons is a luxury hotel brand, they have fewer options when it comes to low-cost stays. However, if you contact the property directly, they might waive any additional hotel fees or charges.
- Hilton Hotels: Members of the Hilton Honors rewards program have discounted rates offered seasonally. While there is no official bereavement rate, Hiltons often provide discounted shuttle services, waive hotel fees, and offer free breakfast for those traveling for a funeral or sick family member.
- Holiday Inn Hotels: Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are both owned by IHG. See the above policy for Crowne Plaza.
- Hyatt Hotels: Hyatt doesn’t offer an official bereavement discount, but special offers and memberships are always listed on their website.
- Kimpton Hotels: Kimpton is also owned by IHG. See the above policy for Crowne Plaza.
- Marriott: Marriott is owned by Hilton Worldwide. See the above policy for Hilton.
- Motel 6: Motel 6 does not offer bereavement rates, though they do have multiple discounts if you’re booking multiple nights or rooms.
- Quality, Clarion, or Comfort Inns: These hotels are owned by Choice Hotels. Choice rewards members get member-only rates, and fees might be waived in the case of emergency travel.
- Radisson Hotels: The Radisson offers a 10% discount on the best available rate if you’re a member of the rewards program. Otherwise, contact the property specifically to determine what bereavement options are available.
- Red Roof Inn: If you’re a member of the military or you’re traveling for a veteran’s funeral, Red Roof offers 20 percent off your room rate. Check their travel discounts for the latest offers.
- Ritz-Carlton: The Ritz-Carlton is also a Hilton Worldwide brand. See the above policy for Hilton.
How to Get a Hotel Bereavement Discount at Participating Hotels
When you’re ready to book your stay, you’ll need to be careful about what steps you take. Booking a hotel with a bereavement discount is different than booking under other circumstances. You might need to provide proof of your family’s situation, or you might need to book with a special code. Follow these steps below.
Step 1: Shop around for the best rate
First, don’t settle for the first rate you find. As you see from the list above, each hotel is likely to offer something different depending on the specific property. Though chains are owned by a national corporation, the individual properties might be privately owned or managed. As such, you never know what’s available until you ask.
The best deals likely won’t be online. While third-party travel sites are a great resource, so is calling the hotel directly. Bereavement discounts are at the discretion of the hotel. The representatives are the best people to give these unique deals.
When you call the property or booking line, explain your situation. Let them know you’re traveling for a last-minute family emergency, and you wanted to know if they offered any special bereavement rates. Even the properties that don’t offer these rates might have another discount such as:
- Waived resort or hotel fees
- Free parking
- Free breakfast
- Free shuttle service to/from the airport
Take note of all these costs and savings and shop around. You might need to make a few calls before you find the best deal.
Step 2: Book the reservation
Once you’ve found the right property, book the reservation. If you’re planning this stay on behalf of several family members, book multiple rooms at once. The more people who book together, the less expensive the stay will typically be.
Make sure to ask the representative what’s needed to secure your rate. It’s not uncommon for them to ask for some type of proof or supporting documents. They might need to see the funeral invitation, death announcement, or other evidence that you’re traveling for a family emergency.
Step 3: Keep accurate records
Last but not least, keep accurate records. Whenever you speak to a representative, make note of who you’re talking to and your agreement. Things often get confusing when you’re traveling. You don’t want to forget anything important.
If you need to follow up with supporting evidence about your family’s situation, be sure to collect this during your stay. You might need to show it to the hotel directly or submit it to the corporate office.
Tips for Getting a Lower Rate at Hotels That Don’t Offer Discounts
Not all hotels offer lower rates or discounts for bereaved travelers. Believe it or not, this doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Travel has never been more affordable. In fact, the bereavement rate might not even be the best deal out there. If you can afford the time, try these tips below to get a lower rate.
Check third-party travel sites
Third-party booking websites sometimes have the best deals around. While this depends on the time of year and availability, it’s easy to find last-minute deals with hotels trying to fill empty rooms. Either way, starting with one of these third-party sites guides your search when it’s time to call about bereavement deals.
Bundle your travel
Another way to save is to bundle your travel expenses. Third-party platforms often offer low-cost bundles if you’re willing to group your flight, hotel, and rental car. Even if you don’t need the rental car, it might still end up saving you overall.
Book a block of rooms or group rate
Many hotels offer special group rate deals if you book an entire block of rooms or a group rate. Talk to the property directly about group rate discounts to see if this is something that interests you.
Funerals and other emergencies are hard on the entire family. Keeping everyone close and together is an important way to use your support system.
Consider a vacation rental
If you’re unable to find a hotel that fits your needs, a vacation rental might be a solid option. Vacation rental sites are often more flexible than hotels, and you might even have the option to negotiate the rate with the host.
Many hosts are understanding in emergencies, and they might be willing to waive extra fees or add-on costs to lower your bill.
Stay further from town
If you’re traveling during a busy time of year, it might pay to look outside of town. While commuting isn’t fun, it is proper funeral etiquette to give the family space during a time of crisis. Commuting a longer distance might be worth the savings depending on your budget.
Show your support another way
Sometimes it’s not always possible to make it to the funeral. That being said, if you can’t attend the funeral, there are a lot of other ways to show your support. Depending on your relationship with the family, you could send money, send flowers to the service, or just call and check on them. Most people understand that these things are unpredictable. Last-minute travel simply isn’t always an option.
Travel to the Funeral Confidently
Planning last-minute travel is never a fun thing to do. Unlike a vacation, you don’t always have the time to search for the best deals and discounts. Luckily, by knowing a few things about bereavement rates as well as these tips above, you might be able to snag a hotel stay at a price you can afford.
Nobody wants to travel to deal with the passing of a loved one. To make this process easier on the entire family when your own time comes around, start end-of-life planning today. A bit of planning goes a long way.