Finding a hotel online can be tricky business – you’re never really sure what you’re going to get. These days, most hotels have swanky websites with professional photos and carefully crafted content designed to draw you in. We’ve all fallen into the trap and landed in a less-than-desirable room at a higher rate than it’s worth. The reality is that the right accommodation can make or break your trip. A few simple considerations can safe-proof your plans and put you in the right hotel. You should already be checking reviews, but here are some other tips to consider:
1. Check for amenities
Depending on why you are travelling, a hotel’s onsite facilities might be important to you. Would you like for your hotel to have a swimming pool, restaurant, fitness centre, spa or golf course? Sites like Travelocity allow you to compare the amenities of multiple hotels side by side.
2. Ignore the stars
The star rating is the most common way that hotels are ranked. Generally speaking, the more stars the better. However, it’s important to remember that quality is subjective and that the star system is not consistent across the board. A hotel that only has 3 stars on one travel site could very well have 5 on another. Keep this in mind when selecting your hotel.
3. Speak to your bank
Banks love giving out credit cards. They offer all sorts of deals and promotions to get you to sign. Some of these promotions include free nights in a hotel or even a room upgrade. You’ll need a credit card if you’re travelling anyway so do your research and get one that will save you when you’re on holiday.
4. Get insured
Whether you’re travelling internationally or staying close to home, travel insurance is always vital. Sign up for a simple plan before you head out and remember to keep all your valuables in a safe place at your hotel. If your room doesn’t have a safe, the concierge at the front desk might be able to hold some items for you.
5. Get a free night
If you’re planning a lot of holidays, check what deals are on offer from the many discount hotel-booking sites out there. Apart from the cheap rated sites like Agoda, Expedia and Trivago which pushes their own deals - Hotels.com for example, has a loyalty program offering you a free night voucher once you’ve booked 10 nights through them. The booking doesn’t need to be 10 nights in a row either; you can collect them from weekend getaways and business trips!
6. Be loyal
Hotels love repeat customers, but some are more generous than others. Some programs offer discounts in the hotel’s restaurants, for day tours or activities and even free upgrades. Best of all, they’re generally free to join. Pick a few different hotel chains and compare their offers.
7. Timing is everything
While tipping the concierge is one way for a free upgrade, timing and preparation can also get you that extra level of luxury. First up, don’t book the cheapest room. The chances of going from zero to hero are slim. Book a mid-priced room then plan your arrival from around 4pm to 6pm. By this point in the day, the staff will have a pretty good idea what rooms are going to remain empty. Most importantly, the manager with the power to upgrade will still be working.
8. Pick up the phone
Yes, this is about finding the right hotel online but sometimes just talking to someone will get you a saving. Booking sites often charge hotels a 15%-30% fee for their services. More likely than not, the hotel will meet you halfway and give you a better deal directly. Cha-ching!
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