How to Make a Hotel Reservation
An important issue that travelers face when planning their vacation is how to make a hotel reservation. Travelling can be a very tiring experience and rest is equally significant as is food for travelers. That is why choosing the right place to stay, rest and relax is very crucial. This step in the organization of a trip may not be so exciting but it demands close attention. Every hotel has a bed and a bathroom, but these are not just what you have to think about. The choices and the promotions are many, making the process of choosing overwhelming and it is very easy for someone to get confused and make a choice that will not benefit him/her. Plus, every traveler has different needs. So, before choosing the right and most suitable hotel for you, you must take many things into consideration: what type of hotel you are looking for, the location of the hotel, ways of booking it, deals, cost and extra charges, problems that you may face etc. All these and many more issues we will be discussing further down so we can make your choice easier.
First of all, you have to ask yourself if a hotel is the place you want to stay at during your vacation. There many other choices of accommodation and you have to consider them all. The hotel is a suitable place to spend your vacation if:
You are a person that likes the convenience of the hotel’s constant care and service on behalf of you.
You need to feel secure and protected where you live. Hotels are usually protected by securities to ensure the well-being of their customers.
You want to be close to the city center and the market, to the airport or the port.
On the other hand, booking a hotel is not usually a good idea for those who:
Plan to spend more than a couple of weeks on vacation. The cost for such an extended period of time will be very high. In this case you should better find another way of accommodation during your vacations.
Travel in large groups and need facilities like fully equipped kitchens and big rooms. Most hotels offer rooms for up to 4 or 5 individuals and usually do not have fully equipped kitchens.
If you have decided that the hotel is the place you want to stay during you vacation, then the next step is to consider what type of hotel is best for your needs. Do you have a budget? Do you travel with your family? Are you on a business trip? Or do you want just to relax and go for a spa? There are many different categories of hotels, depending on the size (referring to the number of rooms), the star system (established by the HRACC committee), the location, the ownership (independent or chain hotels, single owner hotels), the clients (boutique hotels), etc. Some of them are: luxury hotels, budget hotels, business hotels, extended-stay hotels, resorts, airport hotels etc. So, you have to know what your needs will be and what is most important to you for your trip in order to search for the right hotel in the right category. Of course, you have to be careful. These categories and the descriptions of the hotels may have different meanings for different clients. Do not only rely on the stars a hotel has but do a deeper research on it.
How do I choose the best hotel for me?
After you have decided the type of hotel you are looking for (family or pet friendly/ budget/ business/ luxury/airport etc.) according always to your needs, then the next step is to search for the one that is best for you. There are many ways to search for the right hotel and gather information before you make your choice:
Research: You can start your research by looking to brochures or even better by checking travel websites and popular blogs, so you can have a first look at hotels that may interest you. You can search on booking engines and sites that have many options and information gathered and compare them. Don’t limit your research only to one website but crosscheck the information by searching on other websites as well. Keeping a track of all information and different prices you find during your research will help you later.
Reviews: In these sites you can also find reviews, comments and ratings by previous customers. These reviews will help you to understand the true level of service of each hotel and will reveal advantages and disadvantages. Of course, taste is subjective, and the reviews and the comments can easily be misleading so, be careful. The best way is to check the reviews for a hotel at every possible site that you can find and have a more rounded idea of what is true.
Official sites: You can also check the hotel’s official website if you have found one that you are interested in. On the website you will find further information about the prices, the amenities, the location, etc. You can usually find photos of the hotel to check if it matches your taste.
Price: If you are on a budget make sure that the hotel you are going to choose will be under that budget (read: How to Travel on Budget). You have to stick to the budget you have set so there won’t be any problems in your trip. But being on a budget does not mean that you cannot find an appropriate place to stay. In addition, make sure that the price you are offered is the final and that it will not be increased by other hidden charges. Amenities may be charged extra.
Amenities: Before booking the hotel make sure you have checked the facilities, features and amenities that it has to offer to you. You don’t want to book a hotel that will not provide you with a playground for your children. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in your hotel then you may also wish it to have a pool and a wi-fi connection. But if you just want a place to sleep after a long day of wandering then you should pay more attention to the location and convenience of the hotel. What you have to do is know your needs and prioritize them before choosing a hotel to stay.
Location: Location is an important factor for your choice. Again, depending to your needs, you can choose a hotel that is centrally situated or one at the suburbs. Being at the heart of the city, you can have many options and without having to jump on a car or a bus to reach them. On the other hand, if you are keen on nature and quiet you should probably choose a hotel that is not at the center of the city. Usually, hotels at the center of the city cost more than others on the outskirts. Hotels’ location is mentioned on the booking sites and their official sites. You can also find them in city guides that usually include city maps.
Loyalty programs and points: loyalty programs and points should not be your first priority however they can affect your choice. Hotels often have these programs from which you can earn points every time you choose the hotel for your stay. You can redeem these points for a future stay at the hotel or for other activities that the hotel offers, such as car rentals, excursions, purchases etc. For more information on loyalty programs, read our article here.
Having in mind the above factors you will certainly choose the best hotel for you. But for some extra help, here are some extra tips:
Don’t book in a hurry and blindly. It may take some time until you have crosschecked the hotels you are interested in and done some research on them, but it will be worth it. Booking the first hotel you may seem to like is never a good idea. You may find yourself with extra charges that will surprise you in a negative way or book a hotel that doesn’t fulfil your needs.
Expensive is not always the best. Not all expensive hotels are good. You can find hotels with cheaper prices, fulfilling your top needs and also saving you some money. All it takes is some research.
Don’t stress about it. You did you research, you booked your hotel room. Even if you don’t like it after all, you can always express your disappointment and complaints, but you should not let it bring you down and ruin your mood and your trip.
How do I make my reservation?
You decided the type of your hotel and did a research and found the best for you. Now is the time that you book it. Before making your hotel reservation you should 1) know exactly the dates of your arrival and departure and if possible, you can be flexible, 2) have a valid credit card and any necessary paperwork available, 3) be informed so that you will not be misled. Here are some ways of booking your hotel room with their advantages and disadvantages so you can choose what is best for you.
This type of booking is not coordinated by a mediator, it is just you and the hotel manager. You can either make a call at the hotel and book your room or do it through their website if possible. You will be immediately informed by the manager for the occupancy of the hotel, for any deals that the hotel offers or anything else that you want to confirm. You can also earn points for a future reservation or have the ability to cancel your reservation without any cost. But if something goes wrong you will not have the support of a mediator to promote your rights. You can only address the hotel. It’s you and them only so, you have to be extra careful with details. Pay attention to the small print of your purchase. Many hotels may offer you a better price but take you away another convenience like parking space or breakfast.
There are many online agencies that help you book your room. Online agencies operate websites with information about hotels and you can make your reservation very easy and quickly. They usually offer deals and discounts. With online agency you can also feel more protected if a problem occurs because the agency will be your mediator and they know the business far better than you do. Yet, unlike direct booking, online booking doesn’t usually offer refunds in case you cancel your reservation.
Opaque booking is a form of online booking. It is called this way because the hotel is kept hidden from you until you have completed the booking and paid for it. You can only see the basic details that you need to make your reservation, like destination, stars of the hotel, price but not the hotel itself. The hotel will be revealed after the payment. With this type of booking you can have the best result concerning the price and save much money because it offers many big discounts. But it is also risky. It is usually not refundable in case of cancellation and you may also end up with the worst room of the hotel.
Travel agencies are like online agencies, with the difference that they don’t run websites but work face-to-face, in offices. Their businesses also include offers and deals. They have people working to gain deals from hotels and offer to customers. Travel agents will be more open to consider your thoughts and needs and will take more time to find what is best for you. But you may pay more for their service as they usually add up to their price the commissions they earn from you - the hotels also give them commissions in order to be promoted by them.
What can go wrong?
Any of the ways you choose to book your hotel room may lead to some problems. And these problems may be:
Wrong reservation dates. It is not uncommon for a mistake to be made when the dates of your trip are noted down by the staff. Or you could tell the dates wrong following a different system from the system that the hotel makes its reservations. For example, the date conventions in Europe are day-month-year while in U.S.A. are month-day-year. So, be extra careful when giving your dates of booking.
Overbooking. It is very common for hotel to overbook their rooms. They justify this by saying that many reservations are cancelled, or the customers never appear at check-in. If you happen to reach your hotel while it is overbooked and with no room for you, you can demand that you be transferred to a similar hotel.
Lost booking. You may also reach your hotel only to find out that there is no reservation by your name. This may be a mistake of a member of a staff, or the documents may have been lost or the agency not informing the hotel. There can be many reasons. What you can do to avoid a situation like that is to always call the hotel yourself after you have booked your room to confirm the reservation.
Even if you don’t face the above problems with your reservation you may have problems with your room. What kind of problems?
Smoking. In most hotels there are separate rooms for smokers and non-smokers. But there is a chance that you book a non-smoking room that may smell like smoke. You can ask to change room, if possible.
Noisy customers. Not everyone comes to hotel to rest. And not everyone respects their neighbor. There can be customers that make so much noise that is unbearable. You do not have to tolerate with that. You can first ask them politely to be quiet. If that is not enough, you can call the reception and express you discomfort. At extreme situations you can even ask to be moved to another room.
Disappointing room. If you don’t like the room let them know. If you feel there is a segregation between the customers and therefore the rooms given to them, according to how much they pay, you can speak up. Paying less does not mean that you have to stay at the worst room of the hotel. You can also demand a different room when basic amenities are not met, like air-conditioning or warm water and heat. You are not obliged to stay in a room like that, no matter how much money you have paid.
Should I leave the hotel?
These problems can be solved, if there is a positive mood by both the customer and the hotel. However, there are times when your only choice is to leave the hotel:
When the noisy customers won’t agree to quiet down, and the hotel fails to manage them. It is not worth it to go to further dispute and lose your own temper. You can depart earlier than you had planned and booked and search for another accommodation. The hotel should not charge you for the days you will miss due to these circumstances, but you can never know. If they insist on charging you, then this is a reason to lose your temper and claim your right.
When the hotel asks you to leave because you have been a bad customer (i.e. noisy customer), then you have to leave.
When the hotel doesn’t offer what you have booked for. You can demand another room as we have mentioned above but there are cases when not much can change.
Rights and Complaints
There is not a particular global bill of rights in favor of customers in the hotel business. You will be completely sure that you will have a refund only if you ask the particular hotel. But there are some basic rights that the hotels respect and recognize to the customers:
the right to privacy and personal property,
the right to make a reservation and have a proper accommodation
safety and security
the right to express your complaint and ask for a solution.
Even though the customers’ rights seem limited, the hotel industry is so competitive that the hotels will do everything possible to make sure that their customers are satisfied so they will choose them again.
Concerning your complaints, hotel staff is trained so as always to be kind, ready and willing to help you and listen to your worries and complaints. Of course, customers must show the needed kindness towards them as well. They want the customers to feel that their complaints are heard. Most of the times they try their best to solve the problems and satisfy the customers. Happy customers mean good reputation and good reputation means profit.
What about extra charges?
The price that you have to pay for the room may differ from the initial price you were given from the hotel or the agencies. This happens because there are many extra charges that are added to the final price that you have to pay. These extra charges may be:
Tips: some hotels add these extra charges to your bill as tips for the concierge or the elevator boy. They are not extremely big charges but still they are unnecessary for you. It is just another way for the hotels to make profit. If you do want to give some tips, you can them directly to the staff. Otherwise, you can discuss the matter with the hotel and demand that you are not charged with these extra fees. Of course, you are probably going to carry your luggage on your own.
Charges for the comforts of your room: these charges can involve the drinks and snacks you can find in your room’s cooler, a bottle of water, the use of the phone or even the towels. It is simple things, like a phone call, that you may not think that are excluded from the price you already know but the hotel considers them as extra money that it can get from you. So, stay away from the cooler and ask what is included free to your room when making your reservation.
Internet connection: some hotels offer free internet connection and wi-fi, some not. Even if a hotel promises free wi-fi, this may be true only for the lobby of the hotel. It may also mean that free wi-fi is free only for one device and that more devices are charged. This is why you should ask beforehand and look at the small print.
Edited by Sophia Gkoutziomitrou
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