20 tips to help you with your hotel bookings:
1. GET THE BEST ROOM
It is a bitter truth about how rooms are distributed in most hotels. Travellers booking from the hotel website or the ones who are enrolled in their loyalty program get the best rooms that offer nice views and quieter locations. However, travellers booking via online third party travel agencies get the left overs. So, you can either pay a little higher price and book on their website or join their loyalty program which is often free and offer several benefits like free nights, better room placements, complimentary breakfast etc. You can also call hotel to ask for better prices and deals.
2. FIND THE BEST LOCATION
Always check for the exact hotel location before booking. Check if it is near to the places in your travel itinarary. Check how far it is from the airport or railway station, whether it is on the highway with busy roads or at a secluded location. Use Google Street View to get a clear view at the lay of the land. If you are making a booking for a location you know nothing about, use google maps to book hotel at the most convenient location.
3. BOOK AT THE RIGHT TIME
There is no thumb rule as to when exactly you should make the booking since the prices keep fluctuating depending on many factors including location, season, weather, religious occasions, festivals etc. However, you should not book too early or too late. The best deal would be to start checking for prices at least 45 days in advance and book no sooner than 21 days prior to your travel. If you are making a booking for the peak season such as during Christmas, Diwali or New Year, keep monitoring the price trend to book at the best price.
4. COMPARE PRICES
Different websites have different prices for the same hotel or same room. So, it is always advisable to compare prices on different websites to book at the best price. Checking the price on at least 4 websites is advisable. There are various sites that offer search engines to check and compare prices from several booking websites. If you book without doing proper research, you may miss out on big savings!
5. CHECK REVIEWS
Be a smart traveller and check customer reviews before booking a particular hotel. Check for the reputed and genuine sites like Tripadvisor, Travelguru, Holiday IQ, etc. You will generally find mixed reviews as the experience is sometimes different for different customers. Judging a hotel by the customer reviews is quite tricky. The resolution is to read as many reviews as you can without getting an information overload. If several customers have complained about the same problem, it is quite possible that problem really exists with the hotel. So, balance your decisions with the majority poll. By reading reviews, you will also get to know about various services different hotels offer and many other tips to make your travel easy and real fun.
6. READ THE CANCELLATION POLICY
Always read the cancellation policy of the hotel or the website you are booking on. Check for the last day to cancel the trip, the percentage of refund they will provide and how long will it take to be credited to your account. Set a reminder for the last possible cancellation date so you don’t miss out the deadline in case you need to cancel the booking.
7. READ THE FINE PRINT
Yes, you heard that right! Always read the fine print about the terms and conditions, hotel policies, etc. Check for any hidden costs. Calculate the taxes, resort fees, maintenance charges, service charges etc. It is better to be aware of everything so that no one can make fool of you. Calculated decisions will save you extra bucks that you can utilise for more shopping.
8. BASIC AMENITIES
Check for the basic amenities the hotel offers, to save costs on your travel. Don’t take internet access for granted. You can use social media to stay in touch with your family and friends and even make calls through many internet apps, thus saving bucks on roaming charges. If you are a coffee or tea lover, check if the room is equipped with tea/coffee maker and a free in-room pantry. If you are travelling during monsoon, make sure the hotel has indoor activities like gym, spa, pool table etc. to keep you occupied when you are unable to step out of the hotel. Check for hot water and room heater facilities if travelling during winter or to hill stations. Check for the room equipped with a mini refrigerator and AC when travelling to humid or higher temperature destinations.
9. COMPLIMENTARY MEALS
When comparing prices, always take meal inclusions in account. Most hotels offer complimentary breakfast, some offer complimentary breakfast as well as complimentary dinner, while others that may seem less expensive may not have any meal inclusions. So, it is better to check the entire information and calculate prices accordingly. Some hotels have slightly different prices for the same room where the selection is with or without meals. Whether to include a paid meal in your booking or not depends upon your travel type and the destination you are travelling to. It is advisable to look for complimentary breakfast and explore the local places to eat for rest of your meals. This way, you will be able to enjoy the local delicacies of the place and that too at competitive prices.
10. BOOK REFUNDABLE RATES
Non-refundable bookings are a little cheaper than the refundable ones. However, you should preferably opt for refundable bookings; especially if you are booking way in advance. This will save your money in case you will need to cancel your booking due to certain unavoidable circumstances such as bad weather, change of plan or medical reasons. This also helps in case the prices drop in future.
11. USE YOUR CREDIT CARD
When it comes to online booking, credit cards are the king. They are loaded with benefits including airline miles, booking discounts, cashback bonus, free night stays, free room upgrades etc. Not just that, credit cards are safe to use online as they offer Fraud Protection benefits and immediate refund for unauthorized or mischarges. Check the travel benefits on your credit card with your bank and make most out of the money you spend on your travel.
12. RECHECK THE RATES
If you have booked a refundable ticket way in advance, keep rechecking the prices. In case the price drops, you can always cancel and book at a lower price, or ask the hotel/merchant to refund the price difference.
13. COMBO DISCOUNTS
If you are travelling by air, you may get some extra discounts in a combo booking. Many websites offer handsome discounts if you book flights and hotels together. Again, check out multiple websites and book on the one that offers the maximum discount.
14. COMPLIMENTARY AIRPORT PICK UP AND DROP
Look for the hotels that offer complimentary airport pickup and drop facilities. If not mentioned on the website, call the hotel to check if they can arrange that. Some hotels do this for free on guest request. This will not only save your taxi costs but it is also a convenient way to start or end your trip. You would not want to drag your heavy luggage looking for the hotel address, right?
15. PARKING FACILITY
If you are travelling in your own conveyance or hiring a taxi for your entire trip, check for the hotels with free parking facility. If you find hotels with free parking quite expensive, check for the inexpensive ones with paid parking and ask for the parking cost. This will save you the inconvenience of looking for a parking space or walking long distances.
16. FREE ACCOMMODATION FOR THE DRIVER
If you have a driver with you, ask the hotel if they provide free accommodation for the driver. Most hotels have dormitories to accommodate drivers. In case the hotel doesn’t have that facility, ask them if they can provide accommodation for the driver and whether it is free. If not, what’s the cost? This is a facility provided by most hotels. So, find the appropriate ones.
17. EARLY CHECK-IN AND LATE CHECK-OUT
Get to know the check-in and check-out time of your hotel. If your travel time demands for an early check-in or a late check-out, check with the hotel if they allow that. Early check-ins and late check outs are subject to the room availability. It is better to schedule your travel timings according to the hotel check-in and check-out time to avoid any inconvenience and to get most out of your trip.
18. FOLLOW UP WITH THE HOTEL
Don’t hesitate to call the hotel and take a follow up on your booking. You may be able to make personalised requests such as your preferred room. It is better to let the hotel know about your approximate arrival time so that you find your room prepared well in advance when you arrive and avoid the wait time. Also, the front desk may help you with many tips such as restaurant recommendations, easy routes and discounted taxi services as they know the place well.
19. ASK FOR A FREE UPGRADE
Many hotels offer a free room upgrade depending upon the season and room availability. What’s the harm in asking? You may end up in a luxury suite at the price of a deluxe room. Remember, if you never ask, the answer is always no.
20. APPROPRIATE CANCELLATION
If you happen to cancel your booking, cancel before the deadline. Also, make sure you cancel it only with the merchant where you booked your ticket to avoid any extra charges or cancellation fees. For example, if you have booked your room on a third-party website, cancel it on their website and not by contacting the hotel.