Some advice from the hotel business

Discussion created by wardini on Jun 19, 2013
Latest reply on Jun 20, 2013 by madmax

Found this on a social network and I thought everyone here might enjoy it.

I work for a hotel chain booking reservations (central reservation center), and I see people making mistakes all the time. Here are some tips.

  • If you are booking a hotel room online, by all means check third party websites like hotels.com, booking.com, expedia etc. Find your dates and compare rates. But then, call the actual hotel reservation line and tell them. They will most likely match the rates you found and probably give you a better deal or free stuff. Reason? They sell wholesale to third party sites, so therefore can sell for less than what third party sites retail for and still make more money.
  • Hotels often jokingly refer to their crappier rooms as the "expedia" rooms. In other words, how you book influences what you receive; they make less profit from third party bookings. Not all bookings are equal.
  • The term "Best Available Rate" does not actually mean the lowest rate available. That's just what they call the standard rate.
  • After being quoted a "best available rate", ask if there are any other promotions. If there's good inventory, there will be. Sometimes you need to know the codes to get them, though. Joining the hotel's loyalty program (email list) will get you those codes.
  • Some pro stuff tips: Try asking for a "friends and family rate". Just say you know someone at the hotel (if talking to a call center). They typically don't check that stuff. The FFR can be substantially cheaper. Alternatively, ask for the "global business program" rate. That's typically a rate offered to businesses that don't already have negotiated rates, and can be 20% less than BAR (Best Available Rate). If you're actually on a business trip this is legit in most cases.
  • NEVER book an Advanced Purchase Rate if you can help it. These are usually pre-paid, non-cancellable and non-refundable. If you're being offered this kind of rate on a website, read the fine print. Also, if this rate is available, typically there's always another promotion that's at least as cheap, that you don't have to pre-pay and that can be cancelled.
  • If you book online, for chrissakes don't book the frigging "accessible" rooms unless you're actually handicapped. Yes, "accessible" means ADA compliant. People book these all the time because websites don't care, they just list inventories from databases, and they usually don't point out the difference. I get calls every day because of this.
  • Rates for the same room, on the same date will change alot in the time preceding. I've seen rooms booked at $150 go for $600 a few days before the actual date. So yes, rates change. There is no set rate. I've also seen them get really cheap if the rooms didn't sell. Best advice; book it 2 months in advance if possible. Call back 1 month beforehand to see if you can lower the rate; if there's a promo on or something, they will do it no problem. Call back a few days beforehand for the same reason. Some people know this strategy and it works well for them.
  • AAA discounts are actually pretty good, and if you travel more than 3 days a year, it's worth it.