Hotel bookings have largely become ubiquitous in the 21st century working professional’s lifestyle. Whether for business or leisure, chances are you’ll find yourself in that situation where you need to book a temporary crib more often than not. Competitive as it is, the hospitality industry has left some loopholes for the smart traveler to reap rich dividends.
So, how to make your hotel stay extraordinary? Well, it always starts from the booking – that moment of choice when you’re surfing websites and apps to find a suitable place to call home for a while. Let’s take you through the 5 tips to having a great hotel stay.
Using Credit Cards
Okay, so this is a common refrain nowadays: “I’m not getting a credit card.” We understand. Those shiny plastic things are just way too much temptation. Who cares about no added charges or cashback deals? It’s just another potent tool of capitalism!
Well, by all means, stick with your debit card or the good ole’ cash. But hear me out: when it comes to hotel stays, restaurant offers and airline tickets – credit cards are worth their weight (and then some) in gold. From free night stays to cash-back bonuses, there’s a lot your credit card can do for you, especially if you’ve got the right one. Take some time out to discuss your credit card options with your bank, and get an optimal mix of maximum benefits and minimum buyer’s remorse.
Checked Itinerary? Now Double Check!
This is one major – and totally avoidable – booking mistake made by people, especially when it comes to international travel. So, your flight leaves on the 14th, huh? A lot of times, carelessness or hurry (or both) makes you book a hotel stay for that one day when you’ll be parked in a flight seat (presumably next to a bawling toddler, although my prayers are with you there). The excess – and usually non-refundable – cost of that one extra night charge is totally avoidable.
Also bear in mind the time difference if you’re travelling international. 12:30 PM your time may be 2:30 AM in your destination – which could mean a world of difference. Keep the calculations in mind, and make a calm decision.
Keep it Flexible
A lot of hotels and travel booking sites are very rewarding to customers who keep their arrival and departure dates flexible. Granted, this is not likely to happen on a business trip, but if you’re traveling for leisure – try to keep your dates flexible. Sometimes, the room that’s costing Rs. 3200 on a Sunday could drop to Rs. 2800 the next day. Add it up and do the math – voila, you just saved a heavy load of cash.
Less is More
Now, we all love to stay at the Radissons, Hiltons, Maurya Sheratons and Taj Vivantas of the world. But a lot of intrepid travelers have noticed that some of the lesser-known hotels are happy to offer more or less the same quality of services at lower rates. For instance, a two- or three-star hotel would not charge you for use of shampoo, local calls or breakfast – whereas a five-star would rob you for the same. Basically, abandon the starry-eyed nostalgia and settle for a more inconspicuous name if you want to have a comfortable stay experience with the same facilities – without burning holes in your pocket.
There’s something to be said about the phrase “Change won’t come by itself. You must bring change.” Most hotel customers don’t realize how much value they offer to a hotel, especially if it’s during a lean season. When you’re booking a hotel, inquire about possible upgrades, free benefits, access to hotel/resort facilities at discounted prices etc. More often than not, hotels are happy to entertain your request, if asked nicely. Try to get through a conversation with the concierge without losing your head, and you may find your standard room upgraded to a deluxe suite.
Hotel bookings are like oysters: you need to be prepared to swim just a bit longer, and a bit smarter than the others to grab your pearl. Try some of these hacks the next time you face the prospect of a hotel booking and watch as your hotel experience gets upgraded to awesome.