A holiday should be the best two weeks of the year. You’ve saved, planned, and as you walk out of the office the excitement kicks in. It’s not always rainbows and pots of gold though and the whole thing can be fraught with difficulties and frustrations, whether it be finding the best deal or unwanted surprises upon check-in.
Here are 5 things that hotels do that can be very frustrating and how to overcome them:
1. ‘Book now for our Best Available Rate!’
BAR rates as they are known within the industry are misleading in the extreme. Not to be confused with the ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ banners you’ll see plastered on hotel website booking pages the ‘Best Available Rate’ is nothing more than industry speak for their standard rate. It really is just a BAR rate from which all others are discounted. If the hotel is running a special promotion it will be a percentage discount from BAR. ‘Advance Purchase’ rates require payment to be made at the time of booking but these too will be a percentage discount from BAR. The next time you’re shopping around for a hotel make sure you pay attention to the small print!
2. Booked a King room, given a Twin
All hotels will overbook their property to maximise the potential revenue. Both cancellations and no-shows mean that even if they have oversold by 10 rooms on a particular night it would be no surprise if they close the day at less than 100% full. Every hotel has a pre-set breakdown of inventory and within the different room categories there will be a certain number of twin rooms and a certain number of king rooms. You may have booked a king room for your romantic weekend away in Paris but if the hotel have oversold (as many do, with Kings being infinitely more popular) you could be facing the prospect of a romantic weekend away in separate beds. Most companies have a way of tagging your booking internally as ‘confirmed King’ and the easiest way to ensure this is to make a point of asking at the time of reservation.
3. You can only check-in after 2pm
Throughout the world the standard check-in time tends to be between 2-3pm. It may not sound like an inconvenience as you read it but for those of us (and there are many) who land in our destinations, say, before midday it can be a frustrating process. Tired after a long flight you are required to leave your bags with Concierge whilst waiting for your room to become available, when all you probably want is a power nap and a shower. The key here is providing your arrival time upon making your reservation. All hotels will employ a ‘Rooms Controller’ who, yes you guessed it, controls the rooms! It is their job to, ahead of time, look at the expected arrival times of all guests and pre-assign rooms to ensure as smooth a check-in experience as possible. If you don’t provide this information you will fall into a pool of people who are assumed to be arriving after 2pm and as such no special arrangements will be made for your room.
4. Dream holiday with a ground floor room and a view of the bins
There aren’t many things worse than arriving in an exotic destination, riddled with excitement for the week ahead and the beautiful hotel you have booked only to check-in and find out you’ve been given a room next to the elevator, on the ground floor with a view of the bins. This sounds extreme but I’m sure you understand my point. The easiest way to prevent this is to sign up with the hotel chains loyalty program, even if you don’t know if you’ll ever stay in another one of their properties. The reason is simple; all major hotel chain loyalty programs, even for their entry level members, offer guests the opportunity to input their preferences. These can literally be ‘away from elevator’, ‘high floor’, ‘good view’. What’s more, as a loyalty program member your requests will be given priority by that same ’Rooms Controller’.
5. Beware! Food and beverage prices are not all they seem
OK, so this one may sound a little strange but there are things you can do to make that luxury all the more affordable. Here are two perfect example.. 1) Wine prices: Often wine’s listed by the glass will offer only a ‘regular’ or ‘large’ price but check with your friendly waiter and you will find that the menu has simply withheld the price of a small glass. As innocuous as it may seem, if you want a small glass of wine, don’t think you can’t have one! 2) You’ve booked a room but no breakfast as you’re not sure you where you’ll be dining? It’s not too late! Before you stroll down to the restaurant to enjoy your fill beware that the price the restaurant will charge you will always be higher than the price you will get at Reception. So if you do decide after you check-in to eat breakfast in-house then give Front Office a call beforehand. It may only be a $10 saving per person per day but if you’re there for a week with your family it soon adds up.
So there you have it, just a few tips that take no more than a few minutes each and might just turn that hotel experience from good to great. Enjoy your holiday!