Hotel planning can be stressful and frustrating. How do you know that you are getting the best deal, or that the hotel actually resembles the pictures in the description? At the same time, why does one traveler review a certain hotel at 5 stars, whereas another one rated the same hotel with 1 star? Given the abundance of online reservations specialists, travel agents and hotel booking sites, it’s easy to spend a ton of time on researching the “perfect” hotel, and still end up disappointed once you actually check in.
To ensure that you and your family enjoy a relaxing and hassle free vacation, and to help you avoid a nightmarish hotel experience, here are a few recommended points to follow when booking your next hotel stay.
Read user reviews on each hotel
As these come from other vacationers commenting about the hotel that you are considering for your stay. User reviews will help clue you in on any obvious flaws regarding security, noise, accessibility and location. At the same time, user reviews will provide you insight on any major perks that you may have overlooked otherwise. The more you know about the hotel before making your final reservation, the more likely your expectations will be met.
Start planning your hotel stay as far in advance as possible
The most obvious benefit of planning well ahead of schedule is your ability to save money. This is especially important if you plan to travel during the holidays or if a major event is scheduled to take place during your visit. Also, If you have flexibility around your dates, you may be able to pack in additional savings. This is especially true if you are working directly with a travel agent. Definitely discuss these options with your travel agent as hotels often have weekend or weekdays specials.
Be mindful of the distance between your hotel and your points of interest
If proximity is of absolute importance, consider how you plan to travel between the hotel and your place of interest. Nowadays, many hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from airports, convention centers and popular attractions. Call and ask your hotel about these services as this may save even more money during your stay.
Many hotels also offer “internet only” sales, special packages or other promotions that may not be advertised. To take advantage of these opportunities, call the hotel and ask about their current specials. Similarly, many hotels will offer special discounts to seniors, military personal and even families.
Booking direct with the hotel will often give you better deals
Check the hotel websites for rates or package offers. You can also call their toll-free numbers to speak to reservation specialists. At the same time, booking directly with the hotel offers the maximum amount of flexibility if you need to cancel your stay or change your room type. Insider tip: This is also the easiest way to score a free room upgrade!
Do not lose your reservation confirmation number
Best thing to do is to print a copy of the confirmation at the time of booking. This will come handy should you need to make any changes, or if there is an error in the booking system. The last thing you want happening is to arrive to the hotel after a long day of travel only to find out that there is no record of your reservation in their system.
Read the cancellation policy before you book your room
For example, what happens to your reservation in the event that your flight ends up being delayed over night? While non-refundable fares may be substantially cheaper, it’s always good to be aware of how last minute changes will affect your total cost.
Be sure to provide your room preferences during the reservation process
In most cases, you can request smoking vs. non-smoking rooms as well as the type of bed: king, queen, 2 queen, etcâ€¦ Some hotels can even accommodate your preferred pillow type!
Let the reservation desk know before your arrival
If you need to check in early or are arriving late, let the reservation desk know before your arrival. Sometimes the hotel can accommodate you several hours before the typical check-in window. If you are arriving late, this is also the best time to ask for a free room upgrade!
Make sure that your hotel allows for your type of pet
If traveling with a pet, make sure that your hotel allows for your type of pet. Certain hotels even offer special accommodations for your pet, such as bowls, pet beds and even gourmet meals at no additional cost. Check your hotels pet policy prior to booking so that there are no surprises for you and your pet upon arrival.