For my first post, I’m going to give you some “behind-the-counter” tips on booking a hotel. Many people in my generation (and a surprising amount from earlier generations) don’t have the first clue on booking a hotel. Many people find themselves in a situation where they realize they need a place to stay all of a sudden, and shortly afterwards they are fighting medieval sized rodents and making alliances with the roaches to hold what territory they have in the room.
1) The idea of “SuperSavingsBookings.com.net.url.whatever” saving you a ton of money by sticking it to the hotel and getting you the best price possibly available is no more than a clever ploy. Speaking from personal experience, many times that I’ve seen guests coming into our hotel with third-party booking site reservations, they end up paying more than our most basic discount would have netted them. Not only do you end up paying more than you would have, you’re also paying a commission fee to the site for booking the room for you. Where we would have made (let’s just pull a number here and say an even $100) from offering you a discount, we end up only making say $80 and you end up paying even more. This leads right in to my next point.
2) ALWAYS book directly through the hotel, if at all possible! Did all-caps and an exclamation point not convince you enough? ALWAYS. Let’s say you are using “SuperSavingsBookings.com.net.url.whatever” and they quote you a price of $110 as the best deal ever. Well, if you do a little more research and find the local number to the hotel (not some 800-number because that likely leads to an outsourced reservation line) then take the time to call the hotel and say “Hey SSB.all-that-jazz quoted me the price of $110, can you make me a better deal.” I can tell you right now, that 99 times out of 100, the hotel will make that better deal. The reason: You save more money, which leaves you happy. The hotel makes more money than they would have had you booked through the third-party site. Everybody’s happy. Except for the 1 out of 100. The next point will describe how you can avoid being the 1/100.
3) Be friendly with the hotel representative that you are talking to and you’re more likely to get unexpected perks, whether this is a discounted rate, a complimentary upgrade, a free breakfast voucher, or it could be nothing at all. Just like anyone who deals with a large amount of people in any given day, the extra nice/friendly people make our day. If you are friendly to us, then we are MUCH more inclined to go out of our way for you. The inverse of that applies as well. Let’s take the previous example of calling for a negotiated rate. If you call with a ridiculously low number, we know you’re making it up, because we are familiar with what our third-party booking rates are. If you try to scam us, not only are you not getting a better rate, you may get unfavorable room assignments. (I don’t do this personally, but I know quite a few hoteliers who would). Also, don’t call in with a sense of entitlement: “I know you get a worse price than I’m offering to pay you, so go ahead and give me a discounted rate and we’ll both be happy.” I did personally have this happen to me, and unfortunately there was nothing I could do about the rate. “The computer would not allow me to change the rate any lower than $XXX.XX.” Which is true… we would have to personally override that. Long story short, you go out of your way and be friendly to your hotel staff, and they will go out of their way to take care of you.
4) The house keepers are not the only staff at the hotel. They work hard and appreciate your tips. If you’re staying at the same hotel a few times a year, tip the front desk clerk and you’ll be guaranteed to get the best possible room he/she can give you. Does your hotel offer breakfast or a happy hour? Take time to give $2-3 to your server, personally and not just on the table, and you’ll be certain to receive preferential treatment any time you come through. Here’s the thing: Tips are not expected by most of the staff, but they are awesome to receive. A concierge person or house keepers may expect a tip, but the rest of the staff are always pleasantly surprised by any kind of tip and that will reflect in the service you receive.
More wisdom will be following, but listen to these words. This is (un)common sense that may seem obvious to one such as myself but is fairly uncommon knowledge “in the real world.” If you go a little out of your way to show you appreciate the hotel staff, they WILL reciprocate.