Travel Tips from a Hotel Employee

Friday, March 31, 2006

iI've been working in hotels for about five years, and have seen a lot of crazy shit in that time. Especially considering I started as a front desk agent. So I've compiled a list of tips for those of you not in the hotel industry, because let's face it- hotel guests, in general, are an idiotic bunch. Hopefully this will keep you from being in that group of moron guests.

When making reservations:

  1. Research. I know that, in our busy lives, most people don't like to have to research hotels; but unless you want to end up in a dump, you need to research the area. Usually Sheraton, Marriott, Westin, Hilton, Hyatt, and Doubletree are your safest bets if you are looking for a nice hotel at a reasonable rate. However, if the hotel is a franchise, it may be a little below par. But even franchises have to keep up with brand standards, so even if it is a franchised hotel, chances are it will still be ok. One thing that may really help is the Trip Advisor website. You can read reviews from other travelers, so it can save you from staying in a shithole. However, try to keep an open mind when reading the reviews. If the hotel has all good reviews, then chances are you'll have a great experience. If all of the reviews are bad, STAY AWAY. However, if the hotel has mixed reviews, take the bad reviews with a grain of salt. Chances are that the bad reviews were written by some asshole who wanted Ritz Carlton quality at a Comfort Inn price. Now, Holiday Inns are an anomaly. Most of them are franchises, and Holiday Inn doesn't have strict brand standards, so they are usually the wild card. I have seen some very nice ones, but I have seen far more of them that were dumps. That's when Trip Advisor comes in handy.
  2. Making reservations. I cannot stress this enough. Unless you are booking your hotel and flight together, do not use a third party site (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc.). Here's the thing. They all promise the lowest rates. In fact, all sites have a "Best Rate Guarantee." Which means that you will get the exact same rate on all of those sites that you will get on the hotel's site. The difference is that if for some reason you need to cancel your reservation, you will have much better luck if you booked through the hotel's website. With most of the third party websites, you will have to jump through hoops to even talk to a person and explain your situation and ask for a refund. Even then, chances are they will not refund your money. However, if you book through the hotel's website, and need to cancel, you most likely will be able to call the hotel and have a much better chance of getting your money refunded. I have heard SO many horror stories about 3rd party sites.
  3. You know that Hotels.com commercial where they "send in the experts?" Bullshit. In my five years with hotels, I have never seen a Hotels.com person come to the hotel and inspect it. All of the information that they get about the hotel (distance from airport, local attractions, etc) they get from the hotel. I know this because I have had to update information for Hotels.com.
  4. If you still don't listen to me and book through one of these sites and then try to call them and get your money refunded, don't go crying to the hotel and begging for a refund. The hotel doesn't have your money. Expedia (or Travelocity, etc.) has your money. In fact, the hotel doesn't get paid until you check out. So, even if we want to, we cannot refund your money. Take your beef up with the website that you booked through. Leave us out of it.
  5. You would not believe how much a profit these third party sites are making off your reservations. You may be paying $200 a night for your room, but the third party site you booked through is paying the hotel FAR less than that. Especially Priceline. I am not allowed to say how much Priceline is paying the hotel, but trust me, they are making a HUGE profit. Someone at Priceline sold his soul to get the deal that they have with hotels. I can tell you, though, that they are generally making anywhere between a 40% to 80% profit on any rooms they book.
  6. Hotel rates vary depending on demand. So don't call a hotel and argue your rate just because you got a lower rate the last time you stayed. Only the shitty hotels have "fixed rates." You know those hotels that you see along major interstates that have huge signs that say $39/night? That's because no one at that hotel knows how to maximize profit. Also, you get what you pay for. You want a room for under $50 a night? Unless you work for a particular hotel chain and get the great perk of employee rates, you will be staying in a shithole.
I was going to outline the whole shebag in one post, but this is already too long. So it looks like these will all be separate posts. Next up: Checking In; Your Room; Checking Out; and After Your Stay.

9 comments:

Tara 3/31/2006 10:19:00 AM  

Hey thanks for the tips! I haven't booked any hotels through third party sites, but now I never will and will go straight to the actual hotel's website.

We just had a skanky motel torn down in my area. I think they're building some new condos or some stores.

nicole 3/31/2006 04:49:00 PM  

VERY good tips for if I ever get myself together and TRAVEL somewhere. ;)

mrshife 3/31/2006 05:55:00 PM  

Thanks for the information. I always research using these third party sites but I go directly to the source when I find a good deal on their site.

Cody 4/01/2006 10:06:00 AM  

And if you go to new york, don't stay in Jersey.

Wicked H 4/02/2006 08:47:00 AM  

Very valuable info, thanks for the heads up.

New to your site, enjoying it very much!

platkat 4/02/2006 12:25:00 PM  

Very useful advice! I travel for work some and I've had to figure out some of this stuff the hard way.

nicole 4/02/2006 05:53:00 PM  

FYI, I finally completed your tag. How lame am I???

Sangindiva 4/03/2006 08:09:00 PM  

This is my first time visiting your page :)
I was just surfing through blogger-
finding pages of bullshit- and then BAAAM!!
your page! :) The graphics of your site are fabulous!!
I travel sooo much- and live IN hotels and OUT of a suitcase... so these tips are very helpful.
But not only that- you are funny as shit!!
Just wanted you to know I have bookmarked you,
and when I learn how to link right I'll do that to :)

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