Yes, a better long term rate can be negotiated directly with the hotel. It helps if one is familiar with the area and property chosen. For example: if the property has a 'busy' season where it can sell out the rooms and they also have a 'slow' season where low rates are the norm, it gives a 'mean' standard that can be used for a longer booking. The closer to either season would dictate the rate one could anticipate. However, if booking during or close to a 'high' season, a good idea would be to re-visit the rate after having spent a certain amount of time at the property.
It also doesn't hurt to 'fact check' the competition in the same area to get a feel for whether or not you are getting a good long term rate. In fact, I would generally fact check the competitors before I made my final call to the Marriott property.
Yes, I have done this in the past. I f i know I'm going to be somewhere for a month or longer, or have additional staff coming in, I directly negotatie with the hotel for a lower rate, guaranteeing a specific number of nights within that timeframe. It works every time, as it's a Win-WIn for me and the hotel.
As an independent contractor who oftentimes has an all-inclusive contract (I pay expenses), I negotiate rates BETTER than my client's corporate discount 80% of the time. Worst I do is a direct match to the corporate discount. However, you need to be prepared in how you approach the negotiation and the types of stays. What I mean here is that I will negotiate a long-term rate that includes week-after-week reservations for 4-5 nights a week for 6-18 months.
The "secret" to my ability to get great long-term rates is that I have several "letters of guest recommendation" going back at least five years. These letters are analogous to a professional letter of recommendation only that I am applying for a discounted room rate versus employment. As I wrap up a long-term stay, I ALWAYS request the General Manager of the "referral" hotel to write up a letter and include a phrase similar to this: "Initially, Mr. Pingreeman indicated a long-term stay of six months when in fact, his length of stay was actually ## months, exceeding his initial estimate by a wide margin. Please take Mr. Pingreeman at his word during your negotiations."
Additionally, I like to have the GM include some phraseology that reflects the "easygoing guest" that I am, one who is willing to provide hotel recommendations and comments all in the name of improving service.
To actually negotiate the rate, I will search out the property on the booking site using "near an address" for my client-to-be, call the front desk to get the e-mail of the sales manager or general manager. I then compose an e-mail, attach my two most recent recommendation letters, and include in the body of the e-mail my recent successes of getting 40-50% off the rack rate along with the contact information of the GM/SM of the most recent property. I also mention that I am self-employed and would appreciate a welcomed discount to keep my expenses reasonable. Of course, I always include that I am Platinum Premier and wish to continue my loyalty and am seeking the "best possible long-term rate" with a 6+ month commitment.
I have also negotiated a local rate directly with the hotel on a number of occasions. This rate was better than the rate negotiated by our Corporate Travel Provider and matched the best rate that they had for any major hotel locally. As is stated in other posts, you need to have done good local research as to busy periods and comparative local rates. I was not an independent contractor but worked for a large corporate organisation. However, I did generally have a large consulting team that I brought in once the contract was signed with our customer. Our corporate travel policy stipulated a maximum daily rate and I was always able to negotiate at least this rate directly with the local Marriott. In all cases it resulted in a win-win for the hotel and us. In one instance, we needed a base for working a multi million $ bid ... the GM of the hotel was delighted to negotiate a 24 hr a day booking for two of his Conference Rooms that we used as our base for six months ... in addition to the room bookings!