If you've got a specific hotel or chain in mind, don't call the 800 number to make a reservation. Instead, do a little research about their published rates, and then call the hotel front desk directly.
Ask what specials the branch has right now, and whether it honors discounts like AARP or AAA. The clerk will be able to tell how many reservations the hotel has for that particular block of time, and if it's not very full, the branch probably will be to give you a better rate to ensure a reservation. If you're a member of that hotel's rewards club, be sure to mention that -- if you aren't, ask about signing up to see if that lowers the price even more.