And then there is my "last chance" For several Nationals I have done Hotwire just before the event. If you study up you can figure out the hotel and I have gotten either the offical hotel or "nice" hotels near the offical hotel for a fraction of the rate. But to do this you have to be brave and cannot be booked with a "cancel 10 days in advance rate" (Hotwire does work better for big cities. Got a great hotel in LA for both nationals and Worlds for example)
Sometimes my "holding" rate is higher then the offical rate. I am willing to do that because I have almost always found a deal close to the event and I would rather have the easy cancellation rules when that happens. I didn't do that last week for a convention in Houston and got screwed. Could have gotten a hotel half a block away from my Hilton for $100 but paid $190 for the Hilton! It had a 15 day cancel policy for the convention, but the time I found the 'deal' I was past the cancel date!