I have not blogged about this much, but most of my professional career has been in the field of Hospitality, specifically in the Luxury Hotel and Restaurant sector. I was a concierge for 3 years and a Restaurant Manager for two. I have experience in other departments, but this is where I spent the most time.
As a former industry person, people ask me a lot of different questions when they travel. My BS is in Hospitality, and I absolutely love this industry, I just don’t want to work in operations anymore. This post is to give you MY tips for booking and traveling, basically how to get the best deals and hook-ups, but also what to avoid EVEN in the Highest level hotels.
#1 Book direct!
I cannot stress this enough! I always, ALWAYS book direct for everything (rental cars I will do AAA, but only with Hertz because they have a good system.) BOOKING THROUGH THIRD PARTY SITES LIMITS THE CONTROL THE HOTEL HAS OVER YOUR BOOKING. If things are wrong with your reservation, it is the third party’s fault, not the Company.
When I was at the hotel, I HATED third party bookings. The hotel can’t adjust anything, the sites often have issues with the bookings (or don’t complete them) and the hotel can’t do anything about that. How it works is the hotel has extra rooms and they sell them to the third party sites to sell such as Expedia, Travelocity, ect., at a lower price. Then these sites sell them to you. Say the hotel sells the rooms for $100 – you will then pay about $150-200 for that room and the third party site takes the rest of that. Most of the time, companies will match the price you see on a 3rd party site if you contact them directly because they want to have more control over the reservation. Which leads me to my second tip:
#2 Shop around!
Check everywhere for the best deals! As I mentioned above, there is always the possibility for price match. Most companies do it, they would be dumb not to. But also, Sites like Kayak are GREAT for comparing different hotels, airlines, and car rental companies. I ALWAYS find my flights on Kayak then book direct through the site, quick and easy to compare and filter. Same goes with hotels. It is easier to filter it down to what your tough guidelines are (location, price, amenities) then you can do your own independent research and pick the hotel best for you! NOTE: not all airlines are listed on Kayak, example Southwest, so use other sites like cheapo air and Expedia too.
#3 Book Hotels refundable then keep checking back for better deals to find the best price!
Okay, this usually only works when you book far enough out in advance. Hotels have sales too, so its great if you sign up for a news letter and get all the emails. I have booked hotels 6 months out for like $1200 and then over a long weekend they had a sale and I rebooked and cancelled my original reservation and saved over $200. This only works if you are savvy with Hotel Websites. If you have ever booked directly, you have noticed the actual process of online booking is identical for most hotels, that because there are only a few major hotel booking site companies that design the process for hotels, and all tend to be the same.
If you are nervous about doing this, don’t. If you guarantee you are going, a lot of times you can put a deposit down and get a certain percentage off. Do what you are comfortable with.
#4 Be nice to the front desk!
Who likes upgrades and free shit? I do! The front desk has way more control over the fun stuff than you think they do. Most good companies empower their employees to make sure the guest’s experience is spectacular! If they are telling you they can’t do something, chances are they can’t. But if you come in there like a normal person, have a conversation with them, be nice, and just brighten up their day that much more, chances are you may have a surprise in your room when you get back from dinner, or a complimentary upgrade. (Most hotels over sell their lower level rooms so they can complimentary upgrade people to the next level up.) I don’t think I have every stayed in a hotel, even those I did not have connections at, where I didn’t get an amenity or a comp upgrade. Also, If you pay for an upgrade, they will treat you like a god and give you whatever the fuck you want. But also, they are human too, and there are a lot of assholes who are entitled and think they deserve the world. “The customer is always right” is the most draining phrase in Hospitality. If you are the only positive interaction they have had all day, they will be so grateful and show you that their entire stay.
#5 Make sure to mark if you reservation is a special occasion, but don’t expect anything.
Here for a Birthday? GREAT! Job interview? AWESOME! they will make it seem like they have never had anyone stay here for an event like that in their life. However, if you and 150 other people are there for the Ariana Grande concert and 40 different 12 year old girls have a birthday, they would need a million helium tanks for balloons. That is not always practical. The reason I like boutique hotels is because they are small, and they can do special things for special occasions. Even if it is just sending up some water bottles and chocolate. You always need water bottles when traveling and who doesn’t like chocolate. If they can do something special for you, they will. If you are more of a private person, it will all be in the privacy of your room. They won’t bring out a mariachi band in the lobby and make you the center of attention.
#6 Always inspect your room as soon as you step in!
If something is wrong with your room, you need to bring it up to them as soon as you check in, not after you mess up the bed and have a full course meal on the desk. It is so much harder to move you once you have already unraveled the room. I have 3 steps as soon as I get into the room. 1. Inspect the bathroom. I check the tub and floor for hairs, and I check under the toilet seat. I will not explain that one. Just do it. You will see what I mean. 2. Check all of the lights and outlets for charging your phone. Self explanatory. 3. Make sure nothing is missing from your minibar. Don’t want to get charged because the attendant accidentally missed or has not gotten to your room yet.
Just make sure it is up to your standards before you settle in. If it is not, let the desk know ASAP and they will do whatever they can. If they can’t, they prob can’t. And they should try to make up for it depending on the severity.
#7 Tip Housekeeping Daily
Standard service tip is $1-$5 depending on the type of service. These people are cleaning up after you and don’t make that much an hour. IF you tip, they generally take care of your room better, and also you may get a nice bottle of sparkling wine and some treats out of it. Also, if they notice something wrong with your room, they will let maintenance know. The reason to leave one every day is because depending on the length of your stay, you most likely don’t have the same housekeeper daily. They have days off too. I myself am guilty of forgetting daily. If I really feel bad, I will leave the house keeper tip with the front desk. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR BIGGEST TIP ON THE LAST DAY. The amount depends on how messy your room is. I try to leave mine pre-done for them, I did an internship in housekeeping during undergrad and it is not easy! If your room is a mess, throw them a bone. Don’t be an asshole. They even like gifts! If you got donuts, leave them one! It is still just as nice.
#8 DO NOT USE THE ICE BUCKET WITH OUT A BAG!!
I’m not going into detail over this, just trust me.
#9 Tip room service if you order something and they may hook you up!
Even if it is just $2 extra, most gratuity is already included. They have access to ALLL the alcohol and extra little chocolates. They will send shit up to you. They are the ones who deliver it in the first place.
#10 Don’t be uptight!
Don’t be uptight, even if it is an important trip for you. You have no idea how many times people have come in already assuming we would fuck their birthday weekend up. Just relax and trust us. We will do our very best. ALSO if it’s an important weekend, you get the quality that you pay for. You stay at a lower level hotel, you get a lower level of service.
I hope all my tips helped! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
DISCLOSURE: This post is purely opinion. Nothing is sponsored.