There are many ways that individuals decide upon what hotel to stay at, and numerous alternatives for reserving those accommodations. Some people decide upon a hotel by word of mouth, others by reading guide books or articles, and others by doing research on the internet. Once they decide, one can reserve a room on the telephone (either directly through the individual hotel, a booking service, or through the chain if the hotel is affiliated with one), directly on the hotel’s website, on a booking service site (such as Hotels.com, Expedia, etc), or through a website where you pick a category of hotel and an acceptable price range in a particular location, and the site has the option of the hotel eventually reserved (such as Priceline). However, there are many things about hotels that many do not want you to know, and many people do not realize.
1. The picture you see on the internet is not necessarily what you’ll get. It is important to remember that professional photographers and computer programs can make something more appealing than it actually may be. Rooms may appear larger than they really are, or the beach may appear more spacious. There are tricks that actually make a beach appear to be far closer to the property than it actually is, or make it look like a particular attraction of interest is far closer to the hotel than it actually may be. The only way to determine the actual location is by looking close at a street map, and other criteria can be examined by looking at consumer sites where past guests have made comments. However, if those comments might be tainted, because many hotels employ individuals to give favorable comments on these types of sites.
2. The price you pay is often different than what others pay. Sometimes prepayment lowers the cost, but brings with it different cancellation or rebooking charges. Many sites discount hotel rates, but those discounts are sometimes off higher published rates. Many hotels have begun offering special incentives to book your room directly through their sites. Sometimes, corporate rates are favorable, yet often they are not the lowest rates available. Hotels also include different amenities with different rates, so you have to know which of these are most important to you. Sometimes, the absolute lowest rate is only available when you call the hotel directly. Often, the room rates change depending on when you reserve your room, with far in the future rates and very close to the date rates often the lowest. As the date comes near, many hotels will offer hidden special rates, because they realize they will not be fully occupied.
3. When a website indicates no availability at a particular hotel, that is often not the case. It can be that the particular site used up its allotment, or that the hotel will only permit sites to reserve up to a specific percentage of the rooms for any one night. If you really “must” stay at a hotel on a particular night, search multiple sites, and also call the individual hotel (not the chain’s 800 number) directly.
4. Most things are negotiable. As many hotels have faced financial challenges during the economic downturn, they often discount room rates, but then have “hidden” charges at the hotel, including items such as the dreaded “Resort Fee,” taxes that you didn’t know about, parking fees, Internet access charges, spa or gym admission fees, Energy surcharges, etc. While most people simply grimace and complain, one should request that these fees be removed from the bill, and you would be surprised how many times hotel will do so.
5. Very reasonably priced or even free upgrades are often available, especially if you merely ask at the Registration Desk. Remember that it is better for a hotel to have a satisfied guest than one that might badmouth them.
6. Many hotels offer discounts to members of specific organizations. The best discounts are generally given to members of the A.A.A. and the A.A.R.P.
The above are just a sampling of what hotels don’t want us to know. Some hotels are far cleaner than others, while some have had much more instances of situations related to a faulty ventilation system, bed bugs, etc. You can check online and get consumer and other comments from those who have previously stayed at the hotel. Do not depend overly on any one comment, however. The best way to know is by word of mouth from someone you know who has previously stayed at the particular property. Always remember that marketing of a hotel is a continuous effort, and most consumers never get anywhere near the whole story.