Travel Tips--The Best Hotels                             Back to Travel

How can I pick the best Hotel for me?

You can check some of these issues if they are important to you.

  • Ask around and consider their customer service record. What ratings have they received from independent rating organizations?

  • Evaluate their franchise for consistency. Many Hotelís are franchised so youíll want to see how the particular location fits into the Hotelís chain. Find out how the chain rates this particular property within their organization.

  • Consider their Hotel policies, are they favorable to you or do they penalize you in some way.

  • Find out what partnerships they have that could save you money in other areas. Many Hotels have agreements with airlines, rental car or credit card companies.

  • See if they credit your frequent flyer or frequent guest programs with points.

  • Check the Hotel Chain's locations. Does their Hotel chain have locations where you travel? Do they have international locations?

  • Check the individual hotel's location.  Is their airport hotel really close to the airport?

  • Evaluate their facility. When were the rooms last remodeled? Does it have the types of features you need? How well does it suit your need for the quick overnight stay or the weeklong resort vacation? Do they have business suites or meeting rooms available if you need them? Does the particular Hotel you want to stay in located in a safe part of town? Is any major construction going on in the area around your Hotelís location? Will there be any large groups staying at the Hotel that could negatively impact your stay?

  • Do they offer the types of extra services you need? Do they have a concierge, shuttle or laundry service?

  • Can they honor your special requests?

  • See if they offer a Premium or Loyalty Club that feature the services you need.

  • Check to see if you belong to any groups that entitle you to a special deal with a particular Hotel.

  • Consider their rates and the availability of any coupons or discounts. See who offers the best overall deal for your budget.

How can I find the closest ATM to my Hotel?

www.visa.com/pd/atm/main.html

Visaís ATM locator web page. This site provides a searchable database that locates ATMís belonging to the Visa, Visa Electron and Plus ATM network worldwide.

How can I get access to business services and the Internet if my Hotel doesnít offer those services?

www.kinkos.com/mapquest/

This site contains a searchable database with contact information and maps for Kinkoís in the United States and several foreign countries.

www.cybercaptive.com

This site contains a searchable database with contact information and web links for over 4000 cybercafes, public Internet access points and kiosks in 135 countries. They also offer some premium information services for a fee

How could a stay at a more expensive Hotel provide an even cheaper vacation than staying at a discount Hotel?

  • When comparing rates, look at the whole package. The answers to the questions below could reveal that the more expensive Hotel has included many services in their rate that will reduce other areas of your vacation budget. So, depending on your plans, the more expensive Hotel might provide a less expensive vacation.

  • Are any meals included with your stay?

  • If the breakfast is included, does that mean cold cereal or a whole buffet?

  • Are there any special deals for children?

  • Are there any special deals for seniors?

  • Does the Hotel provide free in room coffee, morning newspapers or complimentary evening cocktails?

  • Does the Hotel have excellent pool, fitness or tennis facilities that could provide a cheap day of entertainment by just hanging around the Hotel?

  • Does the Hotel have a golf, tennis or spa package that will save you over booking these items separately?

  • Is the Hotelís location particularly good, or does the Hotel have a shuttle service that could save you lots of cab fare or even eliminate the need for a rental car? Remember a shuttle service will also save you parking fees and gas.

  • Does the Hotel have laundry services or the ability to loan out irons, ironing boards, hair dryers or voltage converters if needed to help lessen your luggage needs?

  • Does the Hotel have other amenities available such as in room coffee makers, refrigerators or even kitchenettes that could save you money in your food budget?

How can I save money on my room rates?

  • Make your reservation as soon as you have decided on travel plans. A limited amount of the cheapest rates are only usually available to the first few that reserve on a particular date; and they go quickly.

  • Being flexible about your travel plans can save you money.

  • The best rates are found during the off-season and at other times when the Hotel tends to have empty rooms. Business Hotels in the downtown area will often have specials on the weekend when their customers are home. Resorts often have specials during the week.

  • Ask about weekly rates or weekend specials.

  • Ask about suites. The Hotel might have a suite available to meet your needs that would be less expensive than two separate rooms. Remember to check on the bathroom arrangement, you may find having only one bathroom too limiting.

  • Shopping the Internet can be the quickest and easiest way to compare many Hotelsí rates to find the best deals.

  • Check into booking your room through a consolidator, they buy large blocks of rooms and often will pass their large discounts on to the individual consumer.

  • You can check the national chainís 800 number and also check with the Hotel directly, since one operator may be offering a special of which the other is unaware. ASK, if this is the best rate they have available.

  • Check into booking your vacation as a package. You might be able to save by booking your room along with a certain airline, rental car or attraction ticket package.

  • You can apply coupons, but read the coupons carefully for exceptions and their terms of use.

  • Apply any special discount programs for which you are eligible.

What other types of special discount programs are available?

  • Check for special deals with your memberships, associations or clubs.

  • Memberships in premium clubs, loyalty or frequent flyer programs can offer discounts.

  • Some credit cards have special discount agreements with certain Hotels.

  • Package discounts can be found when booking your room with a certain airline, rental car or attraction ticket package.

  • Discounts are often available for age groups, young and old, as well as, for students.

  • Group discounts are available if you are bringing your friends.

  • Discounts are often available for government, military or corporate employees. Some Hotels will even extend these discounts during leisure travel.

How can I find other businesses that have partnered with my Hotel to provide me even greater rewards for using their services?

Check out your Hotelís web site. They should have a list of other businesses they have partnered with that can reward you with bonus points or miles and discounts or other special offers. These other businesses are usually found on your Hotelís web site in a special travel partners section or they can be listed under their membership program section as participants or partners.

How can I get a good rate if I donít have a reservation?

  • Calling rather than showing up can be a better way to get the cheapest rates when you donít have a reservation. If youíre calling, they know itís easy for you to keep calling around to look for a better deal so they may encourage you to come in by quoting their best deal. If you come in, the Hotel might quote a higher rate. They know youíll be less likely to leave just to shop around for a better rate, especially if you have that sleepy face.

  • Tell them you are calling around and ask for the best rates that they have available.

  • If there are extra rooms out there, you can remind the Hotel that something is better than nothing.

What does the term "rack rate" mean?

A rack rate refers to the maximum or full price the Hotel will charge for the room. Of course, you'll want to avoid paying the full rack rate and try to find a discount on the room. You should be able to find the rack rate posted in the room, it is usually on the backside of your roomís door.

What should I know about rack rates and discounts?

Some coupons are only good for a percentage off the highest full or "rack" rates, so using them might end up costing you more than making a regular reservation without them. When you find a coupon or discount program that gives you a discount off the full or rack rate, check the currently available regular rate for the room. The current rate may already be lower than what the discount or coupon offers.

What does it mean if I have a coupon that states a rate "with coupon at check in", "space available" and/or walk-in only?

  • This is a coupon with limited uses so youíll need to read the fine print for exceptions carefully. The rate probably wonít be honored with a reservation.

  • Note that space available may not be the same as rooms available. Hotels will often limit the number of these coupons that they will accept at any one time. Even though they may have rooms available at walk-in, they may still deny the rate on the coupon since the space available for the coupon rate is full.

Can Hotels honor my special requests?

  • When making a reservation, donít forget to make your special requests. Itís not a guarantee, but letting them know your special request up front helps them to find a room that will make you happy.

  • If smoke bothers you, most Hotels take requests for nonsmoking rooms.

  • Many Hotels will honor a request for a room in a certain location of the Hotel.

  • Many Hotels are adding business suites designed for the business traveler.

  • Some Hotels can childproof a room before you arrive.

How can the Hotelís concierge improve my stay in town?

Not all Hotels have a concierge, but if they do, a good concierge can be very helpful. They are there to make your Hotel stay extra special. If you havenít been able to get a good tee time or those reservations at the hot new restaurant, the concierge may have the connections to make it happen. A concierge works for tips and since they can provide such a wide variety of services, there arenít really standard tipping guidelines. Simple requests can be rewarded with small tips, but more complex and difficult requests should be rewarded accordingly.

Do Hotels reward you with frequent flyer mileage?

Yes, some have programs where your stay will accumulate frequent flyer mileage. You may be able to charge meals and other Hotel services to your room to get even more frequent flyer points.

Do Hotels have any loyalty programs of their own?

  • Yes, many Hotels also have developed loyalty programs where a stay will earn points toward gifts or free days on future Hotel stays. You should check into joining a Hotelís loyalty program.

  • Many Hotel Chains have partnered brands. They offer brand names at several economic levels, from budget roadway Hotels all the way to luxury resorts. Staying at any location within their chain can earn you points.

  • In addition to the spiffs they offer this could also qualify you for further discounts, upgrades or other special deals.

  • Some Hotels even have special floors of upgraded rooms available for their club members.

  • These programs will often allow you to skip the big lines and reduce your check-in and checkout times.

What do I need to know to find out which Hotel offers the best room for me?

  • This will depend on your particular needs, but you might use the questions below to guide your research.

  • Do they have the ability to childproof rooms?

  • Do they have any rooms available designed to assist the physically handicapped or elderly?

  • Do they have smoking or nonsmoking rooms available?

  • What types of bed sizes and arraignments are available?

  • Do they have special bathrooms with Roman tubs or whirlpool baths?

  • Are adjoining rooms available so everyone can stay together?

  • Do they have rooms designed for business travelers that have larger desks and data ports?

  • Do they have any rooms with kitchenettes? Make sure you get some details because a "Kitchenette" can vary from a wet-bar with just a sink all the way to a small complete kitchen with the pans and the silverware. Youíll probably pay extra for them so youíll want to ask to know exactly what youíre getting.

  • Can you book a room in a particular part of the Hotel?

Why is requesting a certain location for my room important?

  • Exterior rooms might be right next to a loud highway off-ramp.

  • Interior courtyard rooms often are more expensive with a poolside room, which can provide a nice view, but pools can also be noisy.

  • Rooms near restaurants, stairs, elevators, ice machine, and lobby are convenient, but put you closer to the noise. Also, avoid the noisy rooms above or next to the Hotelís bar.

  • First floor rooms are easier to break into. Some rooms may be on floors that are too high for fire rescue to reach.

  • Rooms with balconies can be dangerous if you are traveling with small children. You might consider a first floor room, but youíll have to take extra care when securing the room.

Will I have to pay an advance deposit to make a reservation?

Possibly, some Hotels do charge an up front deposit to make a reservation which you may have to forfeit if you cancel or fail to show up. This is especially true during peak seasons of Hotel occupancy. Make sure you are familiar with the Hotelís reservation and cancellation policy before you give them your credit card numbers.

How far beyond the reservation time will the Hotel honor my reservation?

  • This is a great question and one you should ask Hotel in case you are delayed.

  • You should notify the Hotel if you are delayed so that they will still have a room available for you.

  • Check to see if they offer guaranteed reservations, so youíll be sure to get a room.

What are the differences between a confirmed and a guaranteed reservation?

  • Most Hotels will take your credit card number at reservation and confirm that youíll have a room reserved until a certain time. They may have a reservation cancellation charge, but many havenít yet actually charged anything on your credit card.

  • Some Hotels will also offer you a guaranteed reservation. When they take down your credit card number for a guaranteed reservation, your credit card will be charged the rate for the room, so your prepaid room will be held for you even if you are late.

  • A guaranteed reservation will be more costly if you donít show up, but youíll have a much better chance at a room. Hotels have many different policies about when and if they charge your credit card and how long they will guarantee a room. It is best to ask the specific Hotel about their policy.

What do I need to know about the Hotelís cancellation policy?

  • Ask about Hotelís cancellation policy, time limit and fees. Some are quite restrictive especially during peak seasons or the holidays. Many discount consolidators will also charge a large fee for canceling the room. Make sure you can live with those policies.

  • Ask if the Hotel will penalize you with a charge, if you have to shorten your stay and check out earlier than planned. Ask if early notification could lessen or eliminate this penalty.

What should I verify before I make my reservation?

  • Ask about any other groups or conventions that have booked the Hotel at the same time since any large group could effect your stay.

  • If you plan on taking advantage of some of the Hotelís services such as shuttles, babysitting, free meals or recreational facilities, make sure those services will be available when you will need them. You donít want to arrive at the airport and be surprised to find out that the shuttle service ended two hours ago.

  • If you are reserving a special room, make sure you know just what special really means. Is your "ocean view" room right on the beach, looking down on the ocean or can you just barely see the ocean if you look closely between several other buildings on a clear day.

  • Check the Hotelís check-in and checkout time. Hotels have started to offer various time packages to accommodate the travelerís needs.

  • Make sure you get the Hotelís complete address and take it with you to get local directions.

What extra charges and fees should I ask about?

There can be charges, fees and extra taxes for everything. In some cases, the governmentís percentage of your Hotel bill can be very high, so youíll want to make sure you have budgeted for these items. Ask about any other extra charges if you think they will apply.

  • Parking, is there a charge and can you park your big RV in the lot?

  • Shuttle service.

  • Phone calls, local and long distance.

  • Extra people or beds.

  • Local surcharges and taxes

What information will I need to reserve my room?

  • The name of the person whoíll be staying at the Hotel.

  • The number of guests staying in the room.

  • Credit card type, number and expiration date of the card to be billed.

  • The name of the location where you want to reserve a room.

  • Date and time youíll be checking in and checking out.

  • The type of room you want to reserve, such as standard, business, suite, etc.

  • Any special requests, such as smoking/nonsmoking, spa appointments, childproofing or room location.

  • Any discounts or coupons that you are planning to apply to the stay.

  • If you have it, some Hotels like to have your flight information. That way they can keep track of delayed flights.

  • If you are reserving more than one room, have them give you a confirmation number for each room you reserve. Otherwise, your extra rooms may be listed in the special request section of the reservation, where they can be overlooked. Since you will have a separate confirmation number for each room, it will be clear that youíll need more than one room.

How will I get to the Hotel?

  • If you are flying in, find out where you are to meet the Hotelís shuttle. Do they have a fixed meeting place or do you need to call someone once you arrive.

  • If they use a shuttle, find out how often it runs and its hours of operation. See if they will still be running the shuttle if you are delayed, you might need a 24-hour service.

  • If you are driving, get directions with the complete address and local phone number.

Where can I find information on airports so that it will be easier for me to find the rental car counter or meet the Hotelís airport shuttle?

Go To:  US Airport & Foreign Airport Links

This page contains web links to many major U.S. and foreign airports. Although, each airportís site is different many contain airport layouts and other information that could save you time and help make your visit a safe one. This links page also lists many airport codes that can be helpful when making Airline reservations so you and your luggage will be heading to the right airport.

How can I decrease the chance that the Hotel will break my reservation?

  • Just like the Rental Car Companies, the Hotels must cover the costs of all those rude people, who reserve rooms, donít cancel and never show up. This means that at certain times, especially during holidays and other peak travel times, they may get caught overbooking and have to break some reservations. Hereís a few ways to keep you at the top of the list for available rooms.

  • See if the reservation center will guarantee your reservation. Some do offer this service and they will usually have a much bigger penalty for themselves if they donít have a room for you. However, to get this guarantee, you are usually charged a fee if you donít show or cancel within a certain time frame.

  • Confirm your reservation. Make sure everything is correct and they are aware youíre coming.

  • If you are reserving more than one room, get a confirmation number for every room you reserve.

  • Arrive on time.

  • Update your reservation. If youíre going to be late, call to let them know.

  • Stay often with the same Hotel Chain. Some reservation lists show frequent guests, and management will know that you are not the type of customer they want to lose.

  • Join their Premium Clubs. These groups include their frequent guests and their big corporate accounts. If it comes down to who gets the last few rooms, you probably wonít be seeing the Premium Club members waiting around.

  • If you really fear that your chances of getting burned are high, you might call the location directly and speak with a manager. Let them know you will be there at a certain time and you want to make sure youíll have a room waiting. If youíve made that extra effort and they know youíll be looking for them, most managers will also make an extra effort to have a room for you. If you do call and they do produce, donít forget to thank them for their efforts.

Do I need to confirm my reservation?

Yes, it never hurts to directly reconfirm your reservation, especially if you depended on someone else to book that reservation. Also, be sure to verify when you are to check into your room, and that any special requests youíve made are listed on your reservation.

Besides confirming my reservation, what else should I do before I leave on my trip?

  • Check your credit cards. Make sure they wonít expire and that your limit is high enough to cover your travel budget plus emergencies. If you need your limit raised, call your credit card company in advance of leaving, since it usually takes time for the new higher limit to take effect. Remember a deposit may be placed on your card, in addition to the room charges.

  • Make sure to pack your complete Hotel itinerary in your carry-on bags, just in case you need to reach them while you are still in route.

What if I am delayed, but will still need the room later?

Call the Hotelís front desk directly to update your reservation. Let them know the new time youíll be arriving so they will still have a room available for you.

What if it turns out that I donít need my room after all?

You should cancel your reservation as soon as you are absolutely sure you wonít need your room. Even if there is no penalty and the reservation will automatically cancel at a certain time, it is common courtesy to cancel your unneeded reservation. This will help the Hotel to control its costs and provide lower rates by giving them more time to fill an empty room. This also frees up rooms, making them available to those who do need them.

What will I need to present to the front desk at check-in?

  • Bring your confirmation number and rate information with you.

  • Some Hotels will require a picture I.D. to check in.

  • Youíll need to present the credit card you will be using to pay for the room.

  • Since many Hotels require the plate numbers of the cars that will be parked in the Hotelís parking lot, jot down your carís license plate number on the way in.

  • Present any coupons, memberships or associations that provide you a discount at check-in.

  • Present any frequent flyer or loyalty membership programs you need credited at check-in.

What if I get there and they donít have a room for me?

  • Make sure that it is just not your particular type of room that is sold out, but that they donít have any rooms at all. If they have more expensive suites available, ask to be upgraded for the same price.

  • If they have other locations in town, see if any of the other locations have rooms available.

  • Have them call around to check to see if they can find you a room at one of their competitors. If the price goes up ask that the Hotel pay the difference.

  • If no other rooms are available in town, call the reservation center and find out if their Hotelís in nearby cities have any rooms. If you donít have a car, see if they can shuttle you to that location.

  • Donít give up. See if they will have any rooms available for you tomorrow.

  • If you did everything right and they donít have a room for you, ask to be compensated.

  • Keep the receipts of any costs incurred because of their failure to have your room available.

  • This has obviously created a customer service issue, so you can also look for help in our Customer Service Issues section.

Is there a chance for an even better deal at check-in?

Yes, after you find out what the Hotel has available for you, ask about upgrade specials. Just as Hotelís can sell out of certain rooms, they can also have too many of a certain kind around. This could mean big savings for you, that luxury suite that was so much more to reserve could now only be a few dollars away.

What should I verify at check-in?

  • Your roomís rate is the same as your reserved rate information.

  • Any extra charges for fees or services that can be placed on your bill.

  • All discounts and loyalty program credits will be applied to your bill.

  • Any special requests you made have been honored.

  • The Hotelís scheduled times for services such as meals, cocktails, shuttles, pool hours, room service and front desk assistance. If any of these services are complimentary, check to see if you need to be issued any coupons or vouchers to use these services.

  • Confirm checkout time.

Is there any thing else I might need to pick up at check-in?

See if they have cards available with the Hotelís name and address to share with those in your party. These will be especially helpful in getting you back to your Hotel if you are unfamiliar with the local area or language. It will also give you something to provide your children so they can find their way back, in case they get lost.

How can I avoid surprises when I check out?

  • Make sure you are up and out by check out time to avoid additional charges.

  • Be aware of all the Hotelís charges and share this information with all in your party.

  • Local surcharges and taxes.

  • Local and long distance calling.

  • Room service and minibar, remember convenience has a price.

  • In room movies.

What should I do if I canít make it out by checkout time?

If you donít think youíll make it out by checkout time, see if they have a grace period or other options available to you. Some Hotels will offer later checkout times as a convenience to their customers. Hotels can be more flexible about this service if you plan for it up front. You also need to be aware that there may be a charge involved for this service.

What should I know about Hotel security?

  • Some Hotelís may be hesitant to give out specific details concerning their security precautions, fearing that information could be used to compromise their security. Still, if you are concerned about the Hotelís security, doing the research and investigating the issues below will help to evaluate your choice of Hotel.

  • Is the Hotel located in an area with a high crime rate?

  • Do they have a 24-hour staff?

  • Do they have a security staff on site?

  • How many security cameras do they have on site?

  • Is the parking lot lighted, under camera surveillance, manned or gated?

  • Do the room doors have peepholes, chains, fliplocks and/or deadbolt locks?

  • Does the Hotel have interior or exterior corridors?

  • How are the Hotelís corridors secured?

  • Does the Hotel have electronic keys?

  • Does the Hotel have a safe available for your use?

  • What are the limits on the safeís use?

  • What are their policies if something is missing from their safe?

  • Can you get a written receipt for items left in the Hotelís safe?

Why is a Hotelís safety and security even more important to me when I travel outside the United States?

Because in addition to all the safety concerns you have in the United States, many Hotels outside the United States would not begin to pass building and safety standards applied to Hotels within the United States. With foreign Hotels, youíll want to check to see if they have fire alarms, sprinkler systems and emergency exits. For convenience, youíll also want to see what type of bathrooms they have available. You might have to share a common restroom. You may also find features, such as toilets, that will look a whole lot more to you like a hole in the floor than a toilet.

How can I increase my safety in the Hotelís parking lot?

  • Cruise the lot before you pick a space. Check to make sure no one is hiding between or inside the cars. This is especially important if your Hotel room has an exterior door that faces the parking lot, since someone could pop out and push you into your room just as you open the door.

  • If you feel unsafe, use the valet service if available. If they donít offer valet service, park at the lobby door. Then, go into the lobby and ask for an escort while you park your car in the lot. Your safety is certainly worth a small tip.

  • Park your car in a well-lit area of the parking lot.

  • If you can park close enough to the well-lit and often staffed lobby, it is usually the safest way to enter a Hotel.

  • If youíve just parked, check to see if the lot is safe before you open your carís door.

  • Lock your car and remove any valuables from your car or at least put them out of sight.

  • Consider using the Hotelís valet parking service, especially at night. Donít forget to keep your room key so you can get in your room.

  • If you use valet parking at other locations, remove your clearly labeled Hotel key from your key-chain and take out any other valuables from the vehicle.

  • Before you leave the Hotel, request an escort to your car in the parking lot.

  • Keep a watchful eye and look around for loiterers before you enter the parking lot.

  • Always check the inside of the car before getting in.

How can I protect my valuables while staying at the Hotel?

  • Keep an eye on your luggage both to and from your Hotel room.

  • Donít leave your room key lying around the pool, beach or anywhere else. Some Hotels still put room numbers on keys and if someone grabs your key, theyíll know where to go. If you donít want to get the key wet, see if you can leave it at the front desk. However, if you do leave the key at the front desk, make sure the Hotel checks I.D. before they give keys out. In this case, youíll need to bring I.D. along or leave it with the key.

  • Donít draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of cash.

  • Donít leave a maid service tag on your door. It will announce to everyone that the room is empty. Instead, call the desk to let them know your room is ready for service.

  • Always keep all your roomís doors and windows locked and keep the curtains closed.

  • Leave the TV or radio on in your room.  A small amount of noise can discourage a burglar.

  • Use the Hotelís safe. Avoid leaving anything of value such as jewelry, travelerís checks, credit cards or electronic items in your room. Never leave cash in your room.

  • If your room has one of those little room safes, make sure it is securely bolted down and the bolts are not visible on the outside. If the bolts are exposed they should be welded. If the safe isnít securely bolted down, all you are doing is saving a thief the trouble of searching your room for valuables and providing a neat carrying package.

How can I improve my safety while staying at the Hotel?

  • Request a room that is above the first floor and will be harder to break into, but low enough for any fire rescue to reach you.

  • If your Hotel has several buildings, request a room in the main building.

  • Request a room accessed by an inside corridor, if they are available.

  • Donít draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of cash.

  • Register with your last name and only your first initial. The less information others have the better.

  • Register under your business address and phone number.

  • At check-in, ask that your room number be written down and not said out loud so it is not available to anyone standing by in the lobby.

  • If your room key is labeled with the room number, take care not to let others see that number.

  • If you lose your key, immediately report it to the front desk and ask to be moved to another room.

  • On check-in, locate all fire exits; note where they have a fire extinguisher on your floor.

  • Always keep your door locked.

  • Use the doorís dead bolt, fliplock and/or chain at night.

  • Make sure the windows and the between-room door are all locked.

  • You might consider buying one of those little door alarms to take with you on your trip. If you donít have one, place a glass in front of the door where it would be knocked over and wake you if the door opened. But, remember the glass is on the floor when you are walking around.

  • Take along a small nightlight to light an unfamiliar setting.

  • Always use the peephole and chain when someone knocks at your door.

  • If someone knocks on your door and identifies themselves as Hotel personnel or security, call the front desk to verify that personís story, fake uniforms are easy to come by.

  • If someone follows you onto the elevator that makes you uncomfortable, either get back off if you are in a public area of the Hotel, or push the button that will take you to a public area of the Hotel, such as the lobby or rooftop restaurant.

  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to the Hotelís staff.

  • Although they can clean the sheets each day, even the best Hotels find it too cost prohibitive to dry-clean the bedís comforter with each guest. Since you donít know what the last guest did on your comforter, you might want to avoid lying around on top of it.

What should I do if I have a problem with the Hotel?

  • Speak with the front desk, explain the problem and ask for it to be fixed.

  • If you can think of a satisfactory solution to the problem, suggest it to whoever is working with you.

  • Allow for a reasonable response time considering the nature of the problem.

  • Donít play the "big shot" game unless you are one. "Do you know who I am and how often I stay with your Hotel?" might be greeted by yes, once over the last two years. Computers are doing a wonderful job keeping track of customers and they may have your information right in front of them. If you try to fake them out by acting like a big shot, they might just think you are tying to get something for nothing and doubt your whole story. You are their customer and that is enough to demand good service.

  • Remain calm and keep it business like. Donít make it a personal attack against the person who is trying to help you. The person is human and your professionalism will bring you better results than unleashing your anger.

  • If you donít feel the person whom you are dealing with is helpful, ask to see a supervisor.

  • Calmly explain your situation to the supervisor and allow them to fix the problem.

  • If you have gone up the local chain of command and are still unhappy, contact the Hotelís customer service department.

What information should I have if I need to contact the Hotelís customer service department?

  • Write soon after the incident, while the information is fresh and you are still within any time limits.

  • Include as much specific information as possible when describing the problem.

  • The date, location and time of the incident.

  • Your name, reservation or confirmation number.

  • Keep the originals, but include copies of any relevant paperwork.

  • Name, title, employee number or physical description of those you dealt with if you have them.

  • A description of the actions taken by those involved.

  • If you doubt that you were treated according to proper company policies or feel those policies donít provide for proper customer service; question the customer service department about your treatment.

  • Include the effect this problem will have on your past and future impressions of the company. But, donít baselessly threaten "In any case, Iíll never use you again", they might just write you off and leave you unsatisfied.

  • If you can think of a satisfactory solution to your problem, suggest it to the customer service department to give them a chance to win back your business.

  • Include your name, address and a telephone number where they can reach you with their response.

How much should I tip?

  • Tipping is appropriate for luggage handlers. A customary tip will be from $1.00 to $1.50 per bag if your luggage is brought to your room, less if itís just unloaded at the front door.

  • Check your room service bill, it may already include a tip. If it doesnít, 15%-20% is appropriate.

  • It is nice to leave housekeeping a tip with a note, if you donít get to see them. $1.00-2.00 a night is appropriate, especially if they perform any special services or you leave the room particularly messy.

What should I do when Iím ready to check out and leave my room?

  • Search your room completely.

  • Open all the drawers.

  • Your bathrobe might be hiding behind the bathroom door.

  • Your shoes might be hiding under your bed.

  • Check your balcony for the swimsuits you left out there to dry.

  • Unroll the sheets and comforters.

What do I need to do at check out?

  • Watch your luggage.

  • Make sure you have removed all your items from the Hotelís safe.

  • Turn in your room key.

  • Go over your bill thoroughly and verify that all the charges are correct and discounts are applied before you sign your bill.

  • Verify that the charges are being placed on the proper credit card.

  • Make sure your memberships in frequent flyer and loyalty clubs were given proper credit.

  • Get a receipt. If you paid in cash, make sure your receipt is marked "paid in cash".

  • Remember to tip the bellboys if they have brought down your luggage, the concierge if you took advantage of their services and the shuttle driver if you use the shuttle back to the airport.

How could using a Hotel Consolidator to make reservations help me save money or find a service when everyone else is sold out?

What should I know about using a Hotel Consolidator before I make reservations with them?

Using a hotel consolidator can be a great way to save money, but as with any service, we recommend you carefully investigate the details so you can find the best reservation service for your particular circumstances.

Should I confirm my Consolidator reservation directly with the travel industry supplier?

Yes, whenever you make reservations through a third party it is a good idea to confirm those reservations directly with the company that will eventually provide the service. In fact, confirmation is a good idea even when you are dealing directly with the company that will supply the service. However, note that if you make your reservation through a third party, there may be a delay in time before the travel industry supplier can specifically identify your particular reservation. For example, many consolidators hold a group of reservations in advance and may only notify the travel supplier of your name a few days before your reservation date.