Thursday, May 31, 2007

What Hotels Don't Want You to Know

Summer business and leisure travel schedules are starting to perk. However, the pricing policies of most hotels can leave us pretty cold. Here are a few tips I've found that help increase travel satisfaction.

I didn't pack my power cord!
Check the lost and found. Most hotels will let you borrow a charger from their lost and found. Be sure to check here first: power cords and cellphone chargers are the items most frequently left behind.

Tip the housekeeper
Be sure to meet your housekeeper and introduce yourself. People who tip are less likely to be robbed by a dishonest staffer. Also, if your housekeeper knows you, there's less of a chance for someone to break into your room while it's being cleaned and pretend that it's you.

Empty your wallet
Thieves have gotten clever. They only take one card, leaving the rest to lull you into a false sense of security. Travel only with the cards you'll actively be using. Leave the rest at home.

Book your room late
Rooms are more expensive in the morning. Better: wait until after 6pm (4pm in NYC and San Francisco), when the hotels have wiped out the reservations that weren't secured with a credit card. The hotels are eager to let those rooms go, and offer some great deals.

Call the hotel directly
The 800 line sends you to a call center where they don't have the authority to negotiate rates. If you get the 800 line, ask them to connect you to the hotel itself.

And while you're at it, negotiate everything
Parking, phone calls, Internet connection. Don't assume: ask! If the hotel is having an off day (like, the parking lot's mostly empty), they may be willing to take your offer. Be sure you're talking to someone who has the authority to act.