Tag: Hotel Booking Tips

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Would You Make a Hotel Reservation Through Your Car's GPS?

January 5, 2015 at 5:39 PM | by | ()

Booking a hotel room by using your smartphone was sooo 2014. Pretty soon you'll be able to book a room by using your car. Yes, your car.

The Washington Post reports that General Motors is getting ready to unveil a new component of their OnStar GPS program to be called, "AtYourService." (No spaces, apparently.) When you ask OnStar to search for a hotel nearby, AtYourService, which is a subscription service drivers will have to pay for, will bring up a few options and then allow you to connect to Priceline.com to actually book the room.

Ok, so the ability to book a hotel through your car's GPS is awesome from a technology standpoint. Just ten years ago, road-trippers were still pulling up to random roadside motels praying they would have rooms open and only a moderate roach problem. Now, we can just command our car to find a hotel--long before we get there--make a reservation for us and then direct us to the place. But do we really need all this?

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One Smart Tip on Getting an Upgrade, From Trump Hotels

December 22, 2014 at 11:05 AM | by | ()

A view from the Trump Central Park

Getting an upgrade at a hotel is never a sure thing, but there are ways to increase your chances of moving on up from a standard room category to a suite with a killer view. And now Trump Hotels is dishing out the secrets to upgrade success in this new post on Ivanka Trump's new site.

Some of the tips from Trump Hotel Collection's director, Nathan Crisp, we already knew about such as booking directly with the hotel, calling the hotel versus booking online, being a frequent guest and simply asking for it.

But there was one tip we thought was really smart. Don't book the starting room category and expect a suite. Instead, book the room just below the room you really want. Here's the full tip:

Do your research and find a hotel with a high number of suites. Just like the airlines, hotels will overbook their entry-level rooms. Donít try to book the absolute cheapest room you can find. Book yourself into the room category directly below a suiteóas the rooms fill up, guests will start getting moved into the next tier. Itís not guaranteed and yes, you might spend $100 more for a premier room as opposed to a deluxe, but that gamble could wind up saving you $300-$400 when you get bumped into a suite.

Noice. Here's hoping you'll have more upgrade success in 2015 with this tip. (And let us know if you do!)

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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Two New Ways to Book a Hotel Room and One That Always Stays Constant

November 21, 2014 at 5:21 PM | by | ()

You use already use Amazon.com to do everything you need from buying books, diapers and shoes to streaming TV shows and movies so it makes sense that the e-tailer will start allowing you to book hotels through them. But this won't be just another massive web hotel deals aggregator.

According to Skift's exclusive report about the forthcoming Amazon Travel service, hotel options will be curated and independent hotels. Here's how it will work from the hotel side:

Properties would load their room types, availability, pricing information, and photos into an Amazon extranet and would pay a standard 15% commission to Amazon for the prepaid bookings, the hoteliers at the independent properties said.

The properties would get notified by Amazon via email of bookings, hoteliers said, and they would update calendars on the extranet.

The hotels would generally list their properties at rack rates, but would be free to discount, one hotelier said.

Hoteliers would receive their payments from Amazon for the stays in two installments and could obviously attempt to negotiate a lower commission than the standard 15%.

Did you catch that part? Pre-paid bookings. But if the discounts are good and more importantly, the hotels are hand-selected, rather than being just hundreds of big hotel brands, this could be very attractive when searching for a reasonably-priced hotel that still has some personality.

Skift reports that Amazon Travel will start around January 1 in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle with other cities to roll out soon.

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Why Did The Hotel Put You in an Accessible Room When You Didn't Ask For One?

May 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM | by | ()

An accessible bedroom at the Element Las Vegas. It looks quite the same as the others but we felt too guilty staying in it when we didn't need it. Also, there wasn't enough counter space in the bathroom.

Fresh off of teaching how to book a hotel room like a boss, our former front desk manager has returned to answer a common hotel problem--getting placed in an accessible hotel room when you didn't request an accessible hotel room. Here's his take:

This is something we faced quite a few times at the hotel in Washington, DC where I worked. As a historic property, each of our rooms was a different size (some were very small) and we had to make the best use of our accessible rooms because they were bigger.

Accessible rooms should always be kept open for people who really need them but on occasion, hotels will rent these rooms out to others. The reason being is hotels often have a misconceived notion that an accessible room is preferred by guests because of its larger size. But what hotels don't realize is that there are some significant drawbacks to an accessible room. Like, not having a bathtub if someone wanted one, or having an unusually high toilet.

It truly takes a very well-versed hotel staff to understand and anticipate a guests "actual" needs. i.e. you may be willing to forgo a larger size room, but you really do need a bathtub or more counter space at the sink. Size doesn't always matter, but amenities always do.

So, aside from the hotel assuming you'd just like the extra space, here are some other reasons why they would assign this type of room:

1. The room that was blocked for you was accidentally removed and you were given the best available by the time you arrived. (I cannot tell you how many times a front desk agent has just unblocked a room type without reading the comments on the screen!!) When you did arrive they had to scramble to get you the room that you asked for and the accessible room was the best they could do.

2. It could also just be that you arrived late to the hotel and since they were fully booked, they gave you the best they had.

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How to Book a Hotel Room (Like a Boss): Part 2

May 8, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | ()

Booking a hotel room isn't exactly rocket science. Find the hotel you like, click on the room or rate you like and boom, you're booked. But when there are so many ways to book a room--through the hotel, through an independent booking site, on your phone, etc.--things can get a little crazy. And if you're comparison shopping, then you can really get sucked into the dizzying booking vortex as you hunt down the best price.

Luckily, we've got a former front desk manager on hand who will tell you how to book a hotel room like a boss. (The bad ass person kind, not the actual boss of a company kind.)

Here are his Do's and Don'ts of Booking a Hotel Room. Yesterday, we gave you the DO's. Today it's onto the DON'TS. Got a question about booking a hotel room? Let us know!

THE DONíTS OF BOOKING A HOTEL ROOM (as told by a former front desk manager)

1. DONíT only rely on the traditional booking sites like Tripadvisor, Expedia and Travelocity for bookings. There are some other fantastic that offer travelers a truly customized booking experience based on your mood or even a specific amenity. Some of these include Tablet, HotelTonight, and Gogobot.

2. DONíT deal with multiple hotel staff when trying to book with the hotel. We are all one team and word gets around fast that a guest is trying to play the field. Trust that we do try our best to accommodate your every request. Going through the front desk agent, then a manager and then making a call to the Resident Manager is just going to frustrate the hotel staff. We are fully aware of how valuable your business is to us and we are going to do our best.

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How to Book a Hotel Room (Like a Boss): Part 1

May 7, 2014 at 12:07 PM | by | ()

Booking a hotel room isn't exactly rocket science. Find the hotel you like, click on the room or rate you like and boom, you're booked. But when there are so many ways to book a room--through the hotel, through an independent booking site, on your phone, etc.--things can get a little crazy. And if you're comparison shopping, then you can really get sucked into the dizzying booking vortex as you hunt down the best price.

Luckily, we've got a former front desk manager on hand who will tell you how to book a hotel room like a boss. (The bad ass person kind, not the actual boss of a company kind.)

Here are his Do's and Don'ts of Booking a Hotel Room. Today, we're accentuating the positive and telling you the Do's. Tomorrow, we'll bring you the Don'ts. Got a question about booking a hotel room? Let us know!

THE DOíS OF BOOKING A HOTEL ROOM (as told by a former front desk manager)

1. DO remember that booking through a third party website does not guarantee a room type. So when you need a room with two double beds for a family of four, it is best to book through the hotel website to ensure that the hotel themselves give you the guarantee. (At the very least call the hotel to double check that they have got your request.)

2. DO reach out to a contact at the hotel for a booking reservation if you have one. This serves two purposes, 1) Hotel folk loved to be recognized as "your trusted contact" (even though you are using them) and 2) When you are a loyal guest making direct contact, hotel staff are more likely to take care of things in your favor.

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Hotel Room Alerts Might Be The Best New Booking Service We've Seen Yet

February 19, 2014 at 2:26 PM | by | ()

What do you do when the hotel you want to stay in is sold-out? You probably exhaust all the options you can--like hitting up every booking site known to man, constantly checking the hotel's own website and perhaps even begging the front desk to try and find you a room. But you can stop all of that busy work, thanks to Hotel Room Alerts.

This new service will send you both a text and an email alert as soon as availability opens up at the hotel you want. No refreshing, no plugging in dates over and over, and best of all, no begging.

The site is linked up to Hotels.com so if the hotel you're looking at is listed on Hotels.com then you'll be able to get the room alert. Once you get the notification, you'll have a direct link into the hotel's listing on Hotels.com to book away.

The notification system works not just for sold-out hotels but also for sold-out room categories. Say you want a room with double beds but those are sold-out. Sign up with Hotel Room Alerts to get notified when a double-bed opens up again.

Keep reading to see what the alerts look like

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What to Know About Paying for a Hotel Room

November 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM | by | ()

The other month, a writer on our sister site VegasChatter ran into a perfect storm of check-in problems at a Vegas hotel, specifically dealing with the hotel's credit card and deposit policy. The frustrating story prompted us to put together some helpful reminders about paying for a hotel room. We're guessing most of you already knew these tips but a little refresher list can't hurt.

1. Find out exactly what the hotel's cancellation window is. Before you click the "BOOK NOW" button on a hotel's reservations site, be sure to read the hotel's cancellation policies extremely carefully. Almost all hotels have some sort of cancellation policy but it varies wildly. Usually, a hotel will want 24 hours notice before it cancels your reservation without charging you. But some require 48 or 72 hours while others would like a week's notice or more. (This is especially true during peak seasons.) If you're booking through a third-party website, they may have a different policy from the hotel, so be sure to read that too.

2. Find out exactly how much the hotel will "authorize" your credit card for. Just below the cancellation policy is where the hotel will also tell you what it will authorize, or charge, your credit card for. Sometimes, a hotel will charge 50 percent of the stay to your credit card at booking and then the other half when you arrive at the hotel. If it's a special "advance" deal where you get a lower rate than usual, the hotel will charge you all of the rate up front with no refunds allowed. Other hotels will charge nothing until you check-out of the hotel. Some hotels will also charge you a $100 deposit for incidentals, per day, when you check-in. This is crazy because you've just checked-in, how can you be charged for incidentals? And how can they charge you for incidentals you won't even use? Don't worry, the charge will be taken off your account once you check-out. So long as you haven't bought any incidentals during your stay.

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HotelTonight Rolls Out a Suite New Update

September 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM | by | ()

HotelTonight has consistently been one of our must-have apps for travel, especially for last-minute folks like us who hate overpaying for a hotel room. But now HotelTonight is expanding their booking function to include HighRoller Suites in addition to the regular ole' guestrooms. And these are serious suites, not just a room with a sleeper sofa. We're talking penthouse and presidential suites for a lot less than you would pay if you just walked into the hotel (but you know, still a lot more than $200 a night.)

The HighRoller option is only available in Los Angeles, New York and of course, Las Vegas. But more cities are expected to roll out HighRoller suites soon. Here are some of the suites you may find on HT:

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New Hotel Booking Site Stayful Has Us Hopeful (So Long As Our Bid Gets Accepted)

July 22, 2013 at 5:29 PM | by | ()

UPDATE 7.23.11: The recommend bid of $190 for The Nolitan Hotel was denied. Back to square one we guess.

Being hotel nerds determined to get the best deal on our hotel rooms, we've been known to get a little obsessive with all the hotel booking sites out there. We once rounded up our 5 favorite booking sites to use and we're not lying when we say we usually consult all of those sites before booking a hotel room. And now we'll be adding one more into the mix--Stayful.com.

Stayful.com was just announced last week as a new booking site for independent boutique hotels, and not for every random chain hotel brand under the sun as you often see on most booking sites. But Stayful is not as wide-open as other booking sites. For starters, the site is in beta right now and is invite-only. And it's also only offering hotels in San Francisco and New York. So if you were looking to book that Chicago getaway, you'll just have to sit tight.

But Stayful does have one cool feature that most other sites don't usually have--"Bid or Book It Now." As the name suggests, you can search hotel rooms and either bid a lower price than what's listed or book it now and get the best available rate. If you're unsure about what to bid (and perhaps to prevent people from bidding too low), Stayful gives guests "recommended bids" which are rates that their site's algorithm believes the hotel is most likely to accept. Aha, finally some guidance in the hotel room bidding realm. That said, you can enter your own bid but you can only enter one bid per hotel every 24 hours.

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Aside From Ditching the Trance Music, How Else Can Hotels Improve Their Websites?

July 10, 2013 at 9:38 AM | by | ()

Something that's become pretty clear over the past few years: People like to book hotel stays through third-party sites.

There's a bazillion out there, from classics like Hotels.com and Expedia to the new and savvy PointsHound and Rocketmiles that really help you rack up the rewards. As a result of this ever-growing trend, we wonder where that leaves individual hotel websites. Does anyone really use them?

From the hotel's perspective, having a website is essential for, if nothing else, searchability and stature. In this age, if something doesn't have a website, it doesn't exist. But, for the consumer, what's the take away? A few photos? Mumbo-jumbo PR banter about how we should prepare to be "whisked" away into a "world of mystical luxury?"

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What are The Best Booking Sites For European Hotels?

June 27, 2013 at 9:03 AM | by | ()

The other month, we published 5 Booking Sites to Know About and Use, our handy little guide to the hotel booking sites (and one mobile app) that we use frequently for our hotel stays in the U.S. But what are the best hotel booking sites for Europe?

We personally have used a variety of booking sites for our past European vacations. In Monte Carlo, we ended up going through Kiwi Collection and Leading Hotels of the World. In Paris, we once had you dear readers pick our hotel. Another time, we booked through the hotel at Le Meurice. In London, we booked directly with Tune for the opening of their first hotel in London and in Munich and Barcelona a few years back, we actually booked using credit card points.

And the frequent hotels we've casually surveyed seem to use different tactics themselves. Several folks told us they go through loyalty programs like Starwood and Hilton. While others stick with the big travel aggregators like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline and Travelocity.

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