Looking for tips to book the best hotel room and have the best hotel stay? I’ve got the insider information and experience for you.
I love hotels. From my many travels to working in a hotel for the past couple of years, I’ve developed a love for the unique experiences at hotels. I love seeing how different hotels decorate their rooms, and hoteliers provide the most friendly customer service. There’s an extra sense of luxury when I’m staying at a hotel, compared with renting someone’s home, and hotels are becoming proficient in providing the “local” vibe that some travelers crave.
With my experience staying in hotels and my insider view behind-the-scenes, I wanted to give you tips and let you know how things work in a hotel. My hope is this information will give you the best experience the next time you stay in a hotel.
1. Know your priorities.
When staying at a hotel, what are your must-have amenities? Some choices include Wi-Fi, convenient location, continental breakfast, parking, non-smoking rooms, fitness center, and shuttle options. Do you want a boutique or chain hotel? Do you need the hotel to be pet-friendly?
2. Know your fees.
What are you willing to pay for and what do you want complimentary? Often, parking, breakfast, and Wi-Fi are additional costs. Some other fees you may encounter: late check-out (usually past 11am or 12pm), items from the in-room minibar, long-distance calls, and receiving packages. Fees should be transparent on their website, your reservation confirmation, or in the room. Also, don’t forget to calculate taxes into your rate when comparing options. Ask if a hotel already includes a service charge in your bill. If not, bring cash and tip your bellmen and housekeeping staff.
3. Stick to a reward program.
Similar to an airline program, staying at the same brand of hotels will get you long-term benefits. These reward programs let you earn points for future free stays. Some hotel rewards programs are linked with credit cards that will allow you to earn rewards with any purchase. Check different programs to see what benefits matter the most to you. Sticking to the same hotel brand/chain does limit you, so you might also look into a rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred that gives you points on any travel-related purchases.
4. Rate parity and revenue management drive room rates.
This is more of an FYI about what goes on behind the scenes and how hotel room rates are decided. Hotels put their available rooms on third-party websites like Expedia and Booking.com. Hoteliers call these websites OTAs – online travel agencies – and the OTAs are advertising a hotel’s rooms to receive a commission (around 20-30%) on any bookings. For travelers, an aggregating site like an OTA is helpful to see the city’s rates at a glance. Rate parity means the rates on OTAs will be the same and OTAs monitor this all the time to ensure that. If there is a high demand for rooms on particular days, hotels will raise the rates comparable to their competitors in town. Similar to all supply and demand situations, it’s not about the value and amenities of the hotel but the maximum price they can get a traveler to pay. How to get the low rate AND reward points? Call the hotel and ask for the OTA price and book it with the hotel directly. You’re helping out the hotel and you get all the bonuses I mention in this post.
5. Be aware of third-party and hotel policies.
You may find a discounted room rate on third party websites like Expedia or Booking.com, but be careful when you book. Many of their policies include non-refundable rates and cancellation fees. (Most hotels have a cancellation policy that allows you to cancel 24 hours before scheduled arrival without incurring a fee.) When you book through a third party, the third party is in charge of your reservation and the hotel must adhere to the third party policy also. For hotels, know their policies for check-in, possible room damage, etc.
6. Use the Internet.
Thanks to the web, you have access to pricing comparison and reviews. Check two or three websites to make sure you’re getting the best price and that there are no concerning issues about the hotel. If you find a lower price for the room you want, it doesn’t hurt to call the hotel and ask if they will honor that price when booking directly.
7. Double-check everything before you book.
Third-party websites and some hotels have strict policies about adjusting reservations. When you’re booking, make sure you the dates you’re staying, the location you want, and your information are entered correctly.
8. Go with the flow when you’re getting walked.
Hotels overbook because it’s likely some reservations won’t show. At times, all the reservations will show, and if you’re the last room to arrive, they’ll need to move you to a nearby hotel. It’s slightly a hassle but don’t sweat it. The hotel you booked with should cover the expenses and sometimes, the next hotel is an upgrade.
9. Communicate issues on-site.
If you have any major issues during your stay, it’s best to discuss it with the front desk as it happens or at check-out. Noise in the hallway or in a neighboring room can be alleviated by hotel security. Give the hotel a chance to improve your stay.
10. Ask for what you want!
Make your ideal stay by asking for what you want at check-in. Want a quieter room away from the elevators? Want a room with the best view? Want a free upgrade? If you get to your room and realize you forgot a toiletry item, call down to the front desk and ask if they can provide it. If they can’t provide it complimentarily, they can direct you to their gift shop. If you need a roll-away bed or a microwave, call and ask ahead of time.
There you have it! After your stay, be sure to respond to guest surveys and post a review. They’re beneficial for hotel improvements and helpful for future travelers.
Have any questions or tips about booking a hotel or having the best stay? Comment below!
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