The internet is a great place to find discount hotel rooms but before you book that bargain price 4- star hotel, there is essential information that I believe you should have in order to work the online booking process to your best advantage.
Once armed with this valuable information, you will know just what to look for and the right questions to ask in order to find the best available deals and avoid making potentially expensive mistakes.
When booking discount hotel rooms, be aware that the average room holds a maximum of four people. Some hotels have rooms that will sleep five, others will provide a portable bed on request for an additional charge, usually around $15-$20 per night.
If there are five or more in your party, be sure that the room you are about to book has the capacity to sleep all members of your group. If it does not, you will have to book two rooms making that great looking deal not as appealing anymore.
Another thing to keep in mind is many hotels define four people sharing a room as two adults and two children. An additional fee may be applied if there are more than two adults in a room.
Be aware of additional charges. (Many hotels have them.) These include things like resort fees, parking charges, telephone calls, internet access, etc. Keep in mind that the quoted price for discount hotel rooms usually does not include taxes, unless clearly stated otherwise. Always read the small print. Charges and restrictions are often buried there.
When you book discount hotel rooms online, allow a few days and then call the hotel directly and confirm your reservation. Why should you do this? Because generally speaking, when booking rooms on discount travel sites, your reservation will be treated as best available on arrival, which means that any requests you have made during the online booking process may or may not be granted when you arrive at the hotel.
If you have a specific request such as type of view, smoking or non smoking, etc., or have any doubts about your booking, always call the hotel directly and confirm. Never assume anything!
In my time as a hotel concierge, I saw many a dream vacation ruined when the ocean view room guests thought they had booked, turned out on arrival to be by a noisy elevator shaft with a view of the parking lot.
Some but not all of the discount travel websites will wait to inform the hotel of your booking until 24 to 48 hours before you check in. This is because they block book rooms and they do not tell the hotel who will be staying on any given night until shortly before check in. In this case, call the hotel to confirm your reservations a day or two before leaving home.
When dealing with a website that is owned by a major hotel chain such as Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, etc., the rules are a little different as there is more flexibility to make requests and have them confirmed online. The reason for this is that you are dealing directly with the seller of the rooms, not a third party discounter. However, I would still recommend that you contact the hotel where you will be staying to confirm your reservations have been received and your requests have been noted.
It is always best to call the hotel directly where possible and not the central reservations 800 number. The hotel will be better informed on your booking and the staff will also be an invaluable source of local information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
When calling for hotel room reservations (especially Disney), always ask what discounts are available. This information is not usually given unless specifically asked for. Many hotels, especially on the beaches, vary their room rates depending on occupancy. If they are not at full capacity, they may offer large discounts but only if you ask!
Pay close attention to cancellation policies! When booking online, many hotels and /or discount travel booking sites apply stiff penalties if you cancel within a certain time period. Be sure you read and understand cancellation policies.
Always remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” If you don’t plan on spending much time in the hotel room, quality may not matter and a cheap hotel will be fine. However, if you will be spending a week or more at the same location, your choice of hotel room will have a big bearing on the overall quality and enjoyment of your vacation.
Spending a little more will usually ensure more comfortable and spacious accommodations and some mid-priced hotels such as Embassy Suites will offer perks such as free cooked to order breakfasts and free cocktails.