The travel industry is vast and ever-growing. It’s also rapidly changing, and every sector has been affected. With the rise of Airbnb and its amazing vacation homes, hotels in particular have had to adapt. As a result, it’s often hard to discern just what lies under the surface at the best hotels and how exactly one should navigate them in order to get the most out of your stay.
You’ll make all sorts of mistakes while vacationing, but one that you should definitely avoid is underutilizing the hotel concierge. In addition to checking you in or out and addressing any common concerns, a hotel concierge can help you with quite a bit — whether it’s helping you figure out your itinerary, recommending a great date spot, or even hooking you up with some amazing experiences. Many people don’t know this, however, as it isn’t exactly information that concierges usually advertise. Concierges are experts not only on the area they’re working in, but also on the hotel industry as a whole. You’d be amazed at the kind of knowledge they have, which is why we’re here to tell you these 15 things that your hotel concierge might not.
Many times when guests ask for a better room or an upgrade, the front desk will tell them that all the rooms are the same. This isn’t exactly true. There’s always another room with a better view, a nicer bathroom, or a bigger television. Stay polite and, if you’re feeling bold, slip them a twenty, saying something like “This is for you. Are you sure there’s no way you can help me find a nicer room?”
Not only can you get free toiletries from the front desk, but you can also get other things for free such as stamps, alcohol, fruit baskets, and more. You can also often ask for complimentary drink or meal vouchers if your hotel has a restaurant or bar, as well as VIP access to nearby nightclubs.
If you haven’t already used the services of a travel agent, your concierge can be an alternate option in terms of helping you figure out your itinerary. Ask them for recommendations for the best bars, restaurants, and other attractions in the area; they might even be able to give you some insider tips on how to make the most of your stay, such as when and where you’re likely to hit traffic and which museum exhibits are worth visiting.
If you need to cancel a hotel reservation at the last minute, there’s a way to avoid being charged a fee. Call your hotel and ask to push your reservation to a later date (one that’s outside of the window in which you can be charged for cancellation). After a few days, you can call again and cancel the reservation without any additional charges.
If you’re looking to get tickets to a top museum, concert, game, or other event in the area, ask your hotel’s front desk for help. Not only does the concierge know exactly who to contact, but they can often even get you a discounted price.
Most hotel guests are aware they can request an extra hour or two for a later check-out, but an early check-in is possible as well. If you’re arriving earlier in the day before your check-in time, you can call ahead to let your hotel know and they’ll put your name down on a list of rooms that get cleaned first by housekeeping. This increases the chance of your room being ready by the time you arrive so that you don’t have to wait around. Just make sure that the hotel doesn’t charge you a fee for doing so.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet during your stay, ask for a room on a higher floor. Not only is it further up from the street, but hotels also tend to book louder guests, such as “party” groups, on lower floors.
Don’t be afraid to pit hotels against each other. Make a reservation at one of them that you can cancel at no cost, then call up a nearby hotel. Tell them that you had come across reviews for their hotel and really liked what you saw, but you already have a reservation. Tell them where the reservation is, when it is, and for how long. After citing what exactly it is that you like about their hotel, ask the concierge politely if there’s any way they could offer you a better rate or room. Make sure you call the actual hotel’s front desk, rather than the reservations hotline, as the employees at the actual hotel are far more able and willing to help you out.
With an average of 10 percent of reservations being no-shows, hotels usually book more rooms than they have. Of course, once in a while, this will result in a hotel being overbooked and having to make the decision as to which guests get “walked,” or put up in a room at another comparable hotel nearby (paid for by the hotel). Guests staying for only one night are usually at the top of the list when hotels make this decision. You’re also more likely to get walked if you’ve never stayed at the hotel before and they feel you may never visit the area again, or if you’re rude to staff.
There are certain things you should never order from room service. The coffee sent up to your room is more likely to be stale and burnt than what you can make with the coffeemaker in your room, and seafood tends to not be as fresh as it should be.
Not only is booking third-party inadvisable for flights, but you should reconsider doing so for hotels as well. Hotels can see whether or not you booked directly with them or through a third party. The reason you get such a good price through third-party websites is because the rooms are often sold below their price. Not only does this mean you’re unlikely to get any upgrades, but if the hotel gets overbooked, you’re also more likely to get “walked” before those who booked with the hotel directly.
The services provided by hotel staff are free, but tipping is always appreciated and likely to get you a better experience. Right from the beginning of your stay, you should give a small tip (about two to five dollars in the U.S., but possibly different in other countries) any time they help you out. If they manage to really pull off a big favor for you, such as getting you a discount somewhere or helping you organize a romantic getaway for your significant other, your tip should increase.
Working with a travel agent can really save you a headache, especially when it comes to booking hotel rooms. Many travel agents, particularly those at larger companies or part of travel agent networks, have longstanding relationships with hotels, so not only is booking a room far easier for them, but they also know how to get you the most out of your stay. Travel agents often have access to special rates and discounts, and can easily get you upgrades as well.
While a travel agent does increase your chances, most hotels are pretty accommodating in terms of upgrades, provided there’s availability. All you have to do is ask nicely (and maybe slip them an extra tip). If it’s for a special occasion, such as your honeymoon or a birthday, then make sure you mention it, as it’s likely to increase your chances of an upgrade, as well as a special treat such as roses in your room or a dinner arranged by the hotel. Lying isn’t advisable, of course; you don’t want to abuse the system in a way that may result in hotels changing their policy.
You’d be amazed at which spots in your hotel room have the most germs. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra pillowcases or a new comforter, and maybe clean out the ice bucket and coffeemaker before using them. In order to avoid possibly getting sick or other mishaps, it’s important to stay informed throughout your trip. Hotels are only the beginning; you won’t believe the things that flight attendants aren’t telling you.
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