How Much Should You Tip at Hotels?

August 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In this country, tipping is a combination of good manners and best practices. Whether you agree with it or not almost doesn’t matter, because this is how the travel and service industries operate. You tip at restaurants, you tip your cab driver, you tip at hotels — it’s a part of travel etiquette.

But there are a lot of questions about who you should actually tip at hotels, so we’ve found some different resources on the subject and here’s what you should do if you want to become a champion of etiquette. Here’s just a short list of the most visible staff you need to consider tipping:

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. Staying at a place like expects that you tip at hotels.

The Bellagio Hotel – Definitely a tipping environment.

  • Shuttle driver: Typically receives $1–$2 per person or $4–$5 per party. Consider if they help with your bags or provide helpful information specific to your location.
  • Valet/parking attendant: Receives $2–$5 for delivering your vehicle. Tipping the parking attendant is optional.
  • Door Staff: The rule of thumb should be, the worse the weather, the higher the tip. Because they usually hail cabs and help with luggage or shopping bags, this rate fluctuates between $2–$5.
  • Bellman: If you have a particularly heavy bag or large quantity of them, consider tipping the bellman $2–$5 per piece of luggage.
  • Front desk attendant: If you’d like to ingratiate yourself to someone who could upgrade you to a better room, tip $5–$10 to the front desk attendant. But don’t assume that just because you do, they will. That’s a bribe.
  • Concierge: It’s not recommended, but is always appreciated. If you have a difficult request, it’s nice to tip at least $5. If it’s a more difficult request, tip a little higher.
  • Housekeeper: The one person who should always receive a tip. The most invisible of all a hotel’s staff, this army keeps your room tidy and your towels folded. Leaving a tip for them on the desk or nightstand is risky, though. Ask the hotel if it provides envelopes or place it under the pillow to ensure they receive your expression of gratitude.
  • Room service: If a tip might already be applied to the cost of the meal, a tip of a few dollars is all that’s expected. If not already accounted for, 20 percent of the bill is standard for room service delivery, especially if it’s late at night.
  • Waitstaff: Waitstaff at the hotel’s restaurant should receive a minimum of 15–20 percent of the bill, but be advised that this usually applies only in the US. Check with the front desk or concierge when traveling abroad to determine local standards.
  • Bartender: They receive similar gratuities of 15–20 percent of the tab. If you’re of the mind to tip per drink, $1–$2 is sufficient.
  • Restaurant bussing & Buffet attendants: Another group that is often unnoticed in a hotel dining room or restaurant is the waitstaff that bus the buffet. If they are refreshing your drinks, clearing plates, or procuring extra helpings, they should be compensated accordingly, and the average is usually $5. Don’t expect your primary waitstaff to split the tip with them.
  • Pool or beach attendant: The norm here varies according to the service being performed on your behalf. For towel or drink service, $1 per item is fine, but if they are moving chairs or setting up umbrellas, $5 goes a long way toward securing prime poolside real estate.

Before you succumb to the feeling that giving a tip at hotels is akin to being a human ATM, remember that those serving you are working hard, possibly harder than you, to make a living. They’re providing you a service, and it’s good etiquette to show your gratitude.

What do you usually tip your service providers? How do you handle the question? Let us hear from you in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Delta SkyMiles Members Earn Miles with Airbnb

January 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Delta has just added another way its SkyMiles members can accrue points toward reward travel, and you can get them just by sleeping on your next trip. Besides booking flights and making purchases with a Delta credit card, now members can earn points when they choose Airbnb as their lodging. Members must book lodging through deltaairbnb.com, and earn one mile for every dollar they spend.

We’ve been fans of Airbnb for a

while,

and recently talked about how Airbnb is returning to its roots and working to attract business travelers.
Staying at an Airbnb can earn you Delta SkyMiles
The arrangement has benefits for new Airbnb members too who are looking to “Fly Global, Live Local,” with $25 credit earned toward any stay totaling $75 or more if they book via the Delta dedicated site within 60 days of opening a new Airbnb account. In addition to the flat mile per dollar deal, those whose stay totals $75 will earn an extra 500 miles, and those whose stay totals $150 or more will earn 1000 extra miles.

The benefits aren’t just one-sided. New Airbnb hosts can incent their potential customers by advertising the partnership and can accumulate miles with Delta in the following increments:
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AirBnB Goes Back to Its Roots

December 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers, wouldn’t it be great if you could break out of the hotel routine, even if it’s just for a couple days? Wouldn’t you enjoy eating in local restaurants and exploring the local scenery? What about saving as much as 20 – 30% over your normal hotel costs?

With its new, “Don’t go there. Live there.” campaign, Airbnb is trying to reach business travelers who are tired of hotels, or just want to experience more that a city has to offer.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara California

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara, California

With its push to garner a share of the business travel accommodations marketshare, Airbnb is actually returning to its roots. The company was started in August 2008 in San Francisco as a way to provide conference attendees alternative housing options that were considerably cheaper than the area’s hotels.

Since making a concerted effort to market its services to business travelers, business bookings have tripled since July 2015. Airbnb reports that 14,000 companies are signing up weekly, due to the company’s integration with major management systems, such as American Express Global Business Travel and BCD Travel. The company says the savings can be as much as 20 to 30 percent when compared to hotel accommodation costs.
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Creative Ways to Manage Hotel Pet Peeves

November 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever stayed at a hotel and found they have a few issues you’re just not happy about? While you could always complain, the front desk staff can’t always fix your problems.

For instance, a poorly-placed outlet is not something the staff is going to be able to fix during your stay. So rather than register a complaint, carry a short extension cord in your luggage for just such an instance.

A room at the Hotel Burgenland in Eisenstadt

Hotel Burgenland in Eisenstadt

Smarter Travel has discussed how to work around your hotel pet peeves, so you can enjoy your next hotel stay a little more.

Here are five of their best pieces of advice.

  1. Loud hallways and rooms. If you’ve ever spent the night listening to the ice machine, or the elevator that dings every time it lands on your floor, or the stairwell door slam shut, we know your pain. Rather than wait to see if your room is loud, call ahead and ask for a quiet floor or for a room far away from an area where people are coming and going. Finally, pack a couple pairs of earplugs. Read more

Stuck With an Expensive Hotel Reservation? Sell It

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever had this happen? You’re scheduled to go on a business trip and the client cancels? Or plans change and you have to push your trip out by a couple weeks. You’re outside the cancellation window for your hotel, and you’re left holding the proverbial bag, so you can’t cancel the room without paying the entire cost of the room.

Two companies want you to know there may be a solution by essentially “subletting” your room.

RoomerTravel and Cancelon have both created services that allow you to list the hotel room you can’t use for a reduced price. “The average discount is forty-five percent,” Richie Karaburun, managing director for RoomerTravel, told The New York Times.

Depending on the location of your hotel room, though, you could still recoup its full price. Sellers can ask any price for the room, although neither company guarantees its resale.

If you're stuck with a hotel reservation you can't cancel, you can try selling it.

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Here’s how it works: A seller lists their room on either site. RoomerTravel takes a 15 percent cut for their services, Cancelon takes ten. Services are free to buyers. Potential buyers can see rooms for resale on Kayak and Trivago, RoomerTravel lists theirs on Skyscanner, and Cancelon users can also see what’s available through TripAdvisor.

The downside for consumers using these sites to book a room is that there’s no way to know whether or not the room is being offered as a resale.

Once the sale is finalized, both companies contact the hotel on behalf of the seller to make arrangements for the change to the booking name and credit card guarantee.

Both RoomerTravel and Cancelon are experiencing growing pains and travelers have expressed some concerns when they choose a room and receive confirmation from Cancelon or RoomerTravel instead of the hotel chain they thought they were choosing. But lack of brand awareness should dissipate quickly, especially as more people realize they can offload their rooms, or find rooms at a surprising price.

Right now, the hotel industry is cooperating but remains cautious. Rosanna Maietta, a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), told The Times, “the AHLA is aware that sites like this exist and is constantly monitoring new entrants like these to the digital marketplace and their impact on customers.”

Would you ever “sublet” a room through RoomerTravel or Cancelon? Or do you prefer a more proven method? What would it take for you to try one of these services? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Alan Light (Wikimedia Commons/Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Helpful Tips to Get a Hotel Upgrade

October 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people live by the motto, flattery will get you everywhere. While this may not work in all situations, it helps when traveling and actively seeking out an upgrade. Especially if you’re on the road a lot for business, every little comfort and consideration can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

There are ways to get an upgrade to your hotel, your flight, or your rental car when you’re traveling. A lot of it is just a matter of asking, or remaining loyal to your different travel companies.

We share these with the following caveat: If you try to get a hotel upgrade using any of these methods, you should exercise the utmost courtesy and expect nothing. Upgrades are a gift, and not done in exchange for your niceness.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA. This is where you ask for your hotel upgrade.

The hotel front desk at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, LA.

Loyalty does have its privileges, but what if you’ve become a regular at an independent lodging establishment that doesn’t have a rewards program? Send an email to the owners to let them know how you found their hotel and what you enjoy about staying there, or write an online review of your experience.

When you’re traveling in order to celebrate a special occasion — a milestone birthday, an anniversary, your honeymoon — invite others into your party by mentioning it as you check in. You might also call the hotel and tell the reservations person instead of making your reservations online. Special notes don’t always get shared with the individual hotels, so you’re more likely to get that hotel upgrade if you call your hotel directly.
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Five Things to Do in a Hotel Room

October 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you’re staying at a high-end resort or a budget motel, there are some aspects of staying in public accommodations that are universal. Everyone should do them, no matter in which part of the world you’re resting your head for the night.

SmarterTravel.com shared two different articles — things to do and things to never do in a hotel room — and we picked a few of our favorites. Do these before you decide to unpack.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

There are a few things you should do before you settle into your hotel room.

Look for bedbugs. They’re hard to spot, but evidence of their infestation is not. Examine the mattress pad, comforter, and furniture for brown bloodstains, which are the fecal remains of the insects’ processing of the blood they ingest while you sleep. If you see evidence, ask for a new room. Bedbugs are not the kind of souvenir you’re looking for from any trip.

That light switch you’re about to flip is full of germs. Don’t touch it until you’ve sanitized it with a portable wipe or a washcloth from the bathroom that you’ve squirted with some liquid hand sanitizer. Wipe down the remote control, door handles, bedside clock radio, and phone. (Especially the remote control.)
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How Can You Get Good Deals on Hotel Rooms?

September 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Hotel room in the Renaissance Columbus, OHBusiness travelers often have to find ways to extend their travel budget, or reduce some of their travel costs. It’s possible to reduce the costs of a night in a hotel, with just a little research. These are a few ways we’ve found, thanks to a recent Business Insider article and our own travel experiences.

  • Hotels located in business districts are usually not busy on the weekends and resorts are usually looking for guests mid-week, so check out these to see if you might benefit from the chain’s need to fill rooms during its off-peak time.
  • Corner rooms or rooms at the end of the hall often have more square footage without an extra cost. It never hurts to ask. This won’t save you money, but will still feel like an upgrade
  • If you’re hoping for an upgrade, try checking in at the end of the day and asking what’s available. Be careful to procure a reservation before arrival, though. This strategy might boomerang if you arrive late and there are only premium rooms left.
  • If you have some flexibility in your arrival and departure times, as well as where you stay en route to your final destination, consider checking out Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index, or registering for alerts through Kayak. You’ll get real time information on prices paid, including taxes and fees, and when prices are dropping. It’s like having your own travel agent.
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How to Protect Your Information at a Hotel

August 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s the same words we hear from friends and loved ones whenever we’re headed out on yet another trip.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel“Be safe,” they advise. “Have a safe flight.”

What about once we arrive at our destination? There’s a lot we can and should do to keep ourselves safe once we arrive at our hotel.

Anthony Melchiorri, host of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,”shared with Business Insider magazine a list of things to do to be safe and keep your personal information secure while on the road. We thought they were worth passing along.
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Ways to Avoid Lines When You Travel

August 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Unless you’ve already been authorized for PreCheck, you’re not going to be able to avoid the TSA security lines. But there are things you can do when you’re getting ready to travel and things you can do once you get where you’re going that can help you avoid lines like a pro. Let us show you how.

TSA lines at LAX international terminal, Santa Monica, Los Angeles,If you’re going to spend the day at an amusement park, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in line. Disney and many other theme parks have systems in place that let you essentially reserve a place in line. One side note: some parks offer this as a free service, while others, like Six Flags, charge for it.

Take advantage of online booking. Museums and other attractions allow you to purchase your tickets before you arrive. You then print them or keep them in your smartphone, and bypass the line altogether. Some cities also offer an all-inclusive pass that includes admission to its major attractions, again saving you from doing nothing but waiting in line.

Use express checkout at your hotel. Because your credit card is on file as part of your check-in process, you’re good to go at all major hotels without stopping by the front desk, provided the bill you find inside your door is accurate. This may not always be the case at smaller boutique hotels.
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