Have you ever wondered how people get free upgrades? Or How to get a room with a great view at a hotel?
I have worked in hotels for many many years and so I have had the chance to see how things run and how people get great hotel deals as well as what to look out for.
Let me take you on an Insider’s Guide to hotels!
Firstly think about what you want to achieve when travelling, are you likely to spend hours in your hotel room relaxing and sipping on coffees while reading the paper or do you want to go out and see the “world”. Do you want access to high-speed wifi or room service, do you need (or want) daily turndown service? By answering this question it will give you an idea of what type of hotel you want to stay in Hostel, Budget hotel or Luxury hotel.
Everyone is different and some might feel a little too old to stay at a hostel or maybe the idea of a hostel isn’t for you. Remember that Hostels aren’t just for young kids, backpackers and partying. You can stay at a backpacker’s hostel at any age, its all about your preferences; It’s nice to stay in some luxury now and then so go ahead spoil yourself!
Do research online
Internet access is the key to your research, check out travel blogs as you are likely to get some pretty honest thought about travelling to a particular area or staying at a particular hotel or hostel, they can also provide some great suggestions for hotels or you might want to try websites like TripAdvisor where you can check reviews of the hotel from fellow travellers.
Just make sure not to take every comment in a review as gospel. Once you have an idea of which hotels or hostels you want to stay at head to hotelscombined (my favourite) Expedia, Wotif, Hostelworld, hostelbookers etc. You should also check the hotels website to find out how much parking and wifi is as these websites may not add to their room rates and your bill can end up very costly!
Travel during low season
This may mean that some tourist places are closed or only open on certain days or you might have minimum access due to renovations or maintenance but you will get the best flight, hotel and attraction pricing as countries still want tourists in the “off-season”. Keep in mind that in tropical places like Thailand, it may be monsoon season and there is a chance it will rain and you’ll get wet (which is actually very refreshing!!) just make sure to do your research, pack and plan accordingly.
Look out for great deals or Book it yourself
I’m usually opposed to booking through travel agents or flight companies (EG: Flight Centre, Webjet etc) as they tend to charge you more when you are able to get the same thing for by booking directly with the hotel or hostel for a much cheaper price. But from time to time they can have deals that are too good to pass up.
Just be aware if booking through a travel agent you are paying a much higher premium for them to basically “book for you”. I have previously worked in a hotel where a travel agent would book $100 basic accommodation for their clients and then charge the clients $250 per night; we were under strict instruction not to show the clients the booking form. My motto is always book it yourself, that way you know exactly what you are getting and are most likely able to get a better deal by dealing directly with the hotel.
Join a Loyalty Program
If the hotel has a loyalty program consider joining it as it can provide you with many benefits such as the Hilton “Hhonors” program, where you earn points when you stay with them. As a member you can also get benefits such as late checkout, free upgrades and free nights (depending on what membership level you have). Other hotel memberships offer discounts on food and beverage or room rate discounts and most memberships are free to join!
Don’t hesitate to negotiate
Negotiation is really important as these days people are too afraid to ask for a better deal. Hotels want you to stay with them and most are even happy to match a price if you see a better rate online or at another hotel for a similar room. They can also provide a better rate if you are a long stay guest staying for 5, 7, 10 or more nights.
Or if you travel for business to a particular destination on a regular basis consider contacting a hotel or two to see if they can provide you with a corporate or regulars rate, hotels are very happy to do this as it’s regular business for them and you get a good rate. It’s a win-win situation!
ALWAYS read over your hotel bills
This really shouldn’t be something that I have to suggest you do but hotels are known for overcharging people for minibar items they haven’t used. Make sure to check that you aren’t being charged because someone was a little lazy and didn’t check and replace items in your minibar… You can take of photo of the minibar when you arrive, I have found this helpful to clear up any issues on check out.
Simply (and politely) Ask
Do you want to get a room with a good view or a late checkout or a free upgrade? It’s easy, just ask! You can either request a free upgrade or a good view or a non-smoking room (or anything that’s reasonable) at the time of making the reservation or when you check in you can ask front desk staff, make sure to ask nicely and with a smile! If the hotel can upgrade you they will.
Most people don’t know that you can get an early check-in or late check out again its as simple as asking, hotels will generally try their best to accommodate you where they can, If the hotel is full the night before they may not be able to guarantee an early check-in but there is no harm in asking! This also goes for shampoo and condition or any other amenities in the room, if you run out call housekeeping or the reception and they will be happy to bring you more. The moral of the story here is ASK, it doesn’t hurt to try.
What have you ever wondered about a hotel?