How to pick a hotel Tips

How to pick a hotel? Here are some tips:
  • Use a variety of sources-- AAA (Automobile Club) rating, TripAdvidsor reviews and phone calls to hotels in which you ask specific questions about amenities and services that are important to you. Unlike TripAdvisor, AAA ratings are based on rigid standards of testing by trained reviewers. TripAdvisor reviews offer quantity, but not necessarily quality of reviews.
  • Do your homework before you book. Know if the city or region has plenty of rooms, or if the place is likely to be at maximum occupancy. Prices go up and everything else is subject to lower standards when a hotel or city is fully booked for conventions, graduations and holidays.
  • Pay attention to the details. If none of the hotels in a destination are ranked by AAA or if a hotel falls into a 2 diamond category, that's not a high confidence rating. A 2 meets minimum standards, which is better than nothing--sometimes.
  • Have your ammo before you go. Know the online lowest prices, the reviews & ratings, and make a phone call to the hotel, as well, to discover their rock bottom quote. With time and lots of hotels at your disposal, you can even barter when you arrive and you can walk away if you like.
  • Don't book bargains if you are picky and are not sure what hotel you'll be placed in through Groupon or Expedia deals.
  • Pet policies- ask! Pets mean fleas, barking and lots of doors opening and closing in the night when pets have to go potty--there's no way around it.  If the management tells you pets are allowed in some rooms, find out precisely what they mean. Cleaning fees don't get rid of fleas, as the next hotel guest will discover.
  • Look for the booking "convenience" fee. It's the hidden fee. Some charge it and some don't. It can vary but usually is around $5-15 per room, or per night, depending on the where you book your room. Confusion makes the fee less visible among the various charges.
  • Look for parking fees. They can really add up.
  • Jockey back and forth between the official hotel website and other hotel booking websites to find the ultimate deal.
  • Just because it's the lowest price among Tripadvisor's choices, doesn't mean it's the lowest price available. One company I sell hotel rooms through buys blocks of rooms and can beat out every other source for some properties it consigns  with.  If I call the hotel and tell them I have a cheaper room online, they will confirm that they can't beat that online price, as they've pre-sold a block of rooms to another hotel inventory company. Their inventory may even be sold out, which means you can book a room through a specific website, but not through the hotel direct.
  • Read the fine print about refunds. Convenience fees usually aren't refunded, and sometimes the rooms are sold as "all sales are final" . There's not much bargaining power in that situation, should you really hate the place!

Sometimes when occupancy rates allow for it, we don't book until we inspect a room. Every hotel allows this before you pay, and if you don't like it, just walk away. You can come back if you discover the place was the best option, so don't say anything negative before you size up the local situation. Also, don't hesitate to barter at the front desk before you say "yes".

Have specific questions ready when you call. It's OK to ask about the last remodel, age and firmness of beds, and all that's important on your list.


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