The New York Mets Bench Studies Travel Hacking Techniques

Major League baseball players earn a minimum of just over $500,000 per year. But a player who gets called up from the minors occasionally only gets a pro-rated portion of that, and doesn’t know how long they’ll be in The Show. Playing in Manhattan, lodging is expensive and there’s little opportunity to take a long-term place.

The solution? Scavenge for last-minute hotel deals (Wall Street Journal, so if you hit a paywall Google “For the Best Hotel Deals, Ask a Mets Journeyman”).

It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions, but it was easier than what he had to do as a September call-up last season. At that point, Goeddel became one of several Mets checking in and out of hotels every single day to find the best rates thanks to an iPad app called Hotel Tonight.

“It’s hilarious how much cheaper you can find it if you’re only [booking] one night at a time,” Goeddel said. “Which is kind of tough, because you’ve got to move every day. But [we’re] saving $200 a night.”

I wish I could say they were all blog readers, but…

The hotel fad started last year with outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who learned about the Hotel Tonight app from his wife’s best friend’s husband, a PGA Tour caddie accustomed to making travel plans contingent on whether his golfer makes a tournament’s cut. Baseball’s collective-bargaining agreement provides “seven and seven” for players promoted to the big leagues—that is, seven days’ meal money and seven nights’ hotel lodging—but after that, they’re on their own in their new hometown.

Reliever Buddy Carlyle tries to coordinate his one-night deals with other players, and especially likes the “Courtyard by Marriott on West 40th Street.”

“I’m a Marriott guy,” he said, before adding with a joking plea, “so maybe they’ll read this and start hooking me up.”

The past 6 months have been better for hotel deals in New York than the previous couple of years were. There’s little question that these players could optimize even more with a bit of focus on their hotel points, and strategic use of resources like Priceline and Hotwire.

Nothing is likely to repeat what hotel deals were like a decade ago (where you could Priceline 30 days at a time at a hotel like the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, have elite benefits honored, and even earn elite credits — and credit towards Faster Free Nights promos). And it would take another slowdown of historic proportions to cause a repeat of 2009 deals.

What does it say, though, when awareness of how to score a deal — even if only using limited techniques — makes it to the New York Mets bench, with coverage in the Journal? Remember, these aren’t even blog readers or forum members.

(HT: Alan H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Travel planning for professional athletes and their support networks is definitely it’s own sort of game.

  2. Priceline Express and Hotwire are low time investment and highly discounted. I rarely have a bad experience. I only book directly at a hotel when there’s a reason to be there (wedding, conference where I really want to network with other attendees, or resort vacation).

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