While I talk a lot about the struggles, inconveniences, and turbulence (haha!) of air travel, there is another important and necessary component common to any business travel: the hotel.
But I think the reason that I don’t discuss hotels as often is that hotel stays are less troublesome and more seamless. Hotels don’t transform prices or policies left and right. Hotels don’t shut down in inclement weather. If the service isn’t top notch or your place isn’t comfortable, you can always switch hotels.
But as with all things, there are ways to improve your hotel stays — making them cheaper, more comfortable, and more productive.
Here are five important factors to remember when booking your stay.
- Establish your status. Being a member of a frequent-stay program can equal room upgrades, lavish freebies (including rooms), and other perks. Moreover, all the major chains now have “families” that include the range from roadside motels to extravagant accommodation with every stay at any property contributing to your elite status with that particular chain.
- Introduce yourself. Though not all hotels offer frequency programs, those that don’t — and which reside at the top of the hierarchy — will offer high-level computerized systems that track your personal preferences, such as pillow type or favorite wine. However, at the best hotel groups, it is still advantageous to introduce yourself to the general manager, especially if you intend to be a regular. With familiarity and mutual courtesy, s/he can be a fantastic ally as you go about your business (or go pleasure-seeking).
- Tip the housekeeper. Tip everyone everywhere, really. It’ll help you get the best service and it’s good for your karma. Moreover, having a clean, fresh room is crucial to your comfort. Your housekeeper is the person to keep happy.
- Cut your costs where you can. Start at the hotel’s website. They most often have the best nightly rate, but it is usually in the form of a nonrefundable, pay-now, internet-only price. However, especially if you do not have a particular hotel in mind, check with Orbitz, Expedia, or Quickbook.
- Be in the know. If you arrive to find a “NO Vacancy,” there is a small possibility that an “out of service” room is available. This means that you are ready to accept a room that has been temporarily taken out of general use due to a small flaw that needs repair. It’s the vacation equivalent of “irregular” pantyhose.