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 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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Four Easy Ways U.S. Hotels Could Help Save the Environment

June 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Many hotels claim they’re interested in saving the planet and they’re demonstrating their commitment by offering to allow travelers to reuse sheets and towels during their multi-day stays.

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel

The Bellagio Hotel

While this is a small step in the right direction, Yahoo Travel found some other ideas that have been incorporated around the world that could really make a significant impact in the environment.

Here are a few of our favorites:
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New Technology to Reduce Hotel Noise

February 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve ever been in a hotel trying to sleep and the wedding party — or fraternity formal, high school band, college football team, or rampaging horde of invading Mongols — returns from its festivities, you know how frustrating it can be to have your peaceful night interrupted.

Now imagine if the hotel could monitor the decibel levels in its rooms and environments and handle the partiers without you having to call down to the front desk?

Quietyme does just that. Founded in 2012 and currently deployed at the Radisson Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as throughout the HotelRed chain, Quietyme installs sensors in rooms for $3/month subscription and samples the noise level in those rooms once per second.

The Phoenix HotelIt streams the results to the front desk so that management can proactively respond. Through independent studies, Quietyme found that its technology reduced hotel noise levels by 65 percent at properties where it was deployed. It also helped reduce property damage.

According to the JD Power’s 2015 North America Hotel Satisfaction Survey, hotel noise is the second largest problem guests report to management after Internet connectivity. According to Huey Zoroufy, chief technology officer for Quietyme, instead of reporting the problem, customers are going online and leaving poor reviews about their stays. Quietyme gives hotels an opportunity to anticipate their clients’ needs, and solve problems before they become problems.

That anticipation translates into a higher score for the hotel, according to the same JD Power study. Hotels scored 310 points higher out of 1,000 if they strongly agreed that the staff anticipated their needs rather than responded to them.

Don’t be surprised if you see this type of technology spread to more hotel chains in the coming year. It might make you think twice about what kind of “in-room activities” you choose to participate in, or not participate in, while on vacation.

What do you do when you have noisy hotel neighbors or other hotel noise? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Ben Chun (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)

Eight Ways to Spot a Lousy Hotel

January 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You know the feeling you get when you show up at a hotel, and it’s nothing like you imagined? That sinking feeling when you open the door to your room, and wonder if someone is playing a prank?

Thankfully, today there are many tools at your disposal online to help you spot a lousy hotel before you get there.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

  1. Photos. If the pictures online feature close-ups or artistic shots that don’t give you a clear impression of the room or the amenities, chances are something’s up.
  2. Too good to be true Photos. If the property seems to feature amenities that don’t jive with the neighborhood, like a beach in Kansas, or they feature something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Dated website. If it’s obvious, either by the outdated material or the glaring typos, that the hotel’s management doesn’t seem to care that much about maintaining its online presence, you should be wary of your physical presence on their premises.
  4. Google Maps street view. If the site is short on pictures, but touts its amazing location, do yourself a favor and put the address in Google Maps to take your own look around. Sketchy neighborhoods can’t be hidden when you do a 360 view at street level.
  5. Poor reviews. You can usually tell if the recent reviews are factual or fake. Take note if every review is glowingly positive or completely negative. Black and white reviews aren’t a true representation of a property or an experience.
  6. Poor online etiquette. If management replies to the negative reviews online, that should be your first clue. Customer complaints should be handled privately, not responded to publicly. The one caveat: if management is actually showing how they’ve positively responded to a situation, that’s great. But if they get into arguments with customers, that’s not so great.
  7. Bed Bug Registry. It’s a real site. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search before you book your room, instead of frantically searching for the bedside light in the middle of the night to find what you felt crawling on you!
  8. No interior photos. If the site has no pictures of the accommodations but only of the area surrounding the hotel, odds are what you see around is better than what you’ll see inside.

How do you spot a lousy hotel? Do you have any favorite websites or review sites? Tell us about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Google Enters Travel Booking World

October 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve been thinking about going to Montreal or New Hampshire in a few weeks to see the fall colors. When you start your search process, you notice that Google is offering to not only help you book your flight, but your hotel as well.

The ubiquitous tech giant is now dipping its proverbial big toe even deeper into the travel booking pool with its new initiative, “Book on Google”. And it has some of the other booking websites a little nervous.

Montreal, First YMCA. Now Hotel Gault.

Montreal’s Hotel Gault. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google is currently conducting a beta launch in North America with 20,000 hotels that allows travelers to remain in its own navigation system from initial search to completed booking. Google’s partner? Sabre, the biggest global distribution system in the world used by more than 350,000 travel agents to access accommodation information.

The new “Book on Google” is the next generation of Google Hotel Ads, a search engine that searches other search engines and compiles the results for available hotels. What “Book on Google” provides that Google Hotel Ads doesn’t is direct booking all the way through to payment on mobile devices from Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ platforms.

The hotels share the commission with Google and Sabre. This program complements Google Flight, which resulted from the purchase of ITA software, a flight information company, in 2015.

So now you can book a flight and find a place to lay your head without ever leaving Google. What’s next? Google room service, please.

Would you book with Google, or have you already done so? Let us know what you think in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

New Family Travel Association Works to Help Family Travelers

May 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in USA Today discussed a new organization fighting for the plight of families traveling with children. The Family Travel Association is a new industry association that seeks to inspire people with kids to travel and to educate them on the positive impact that traveling has on both children and adults.

“Now, the industry is joining forces to present a clear and unified message — that travel with kids can be transformational, not just recreational, and that there are things you can do with your children that you may never have dreamed possible,” said Rainer Jenss, president of the FTA, said in the article.

Jenss said the goal of the FTA is to lead the industry toward making travel easier for parents with children since many surveys indicate that parents often come home from trips more frazzled than when they left.

English: PBair female flight attendant at work...

Female flight attendant at work on board of a ATR 72 (Thailand). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FTA plans to promote kid-friendly companies, including airlines and hotels that tailor services to families with kids. The fact is, many businesses are either unaware of how to make things easier for families or are sometimes downright unwelcoming.

The article even mentions a mother who always flies with a print out of each airline’s rules for traveling with children, since flight attendants are often unfamiliar with the facts.

Since travel is both beneficial and difficult for families, the FTA has a lot to offer if they can make things easier for parents shepherding their children through the pleasures and perils of vacationing.

It’s very beneficial to be able to get away with your family. In fact, our Vogue line is intended for the family traveler, so this association is something we’re very interested in following and seeing how it turns out.

Would you use it or not? What are some of the difficulties and joys you’ve had traveling with your family? Leave us a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

Bring This, Not That: Pillows and Bedding

May 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Some folks love to travel with pillows and bedding, usually when traveling by car. There’s just something about having your own pillow with you when you’re sleeping in strange beds halfway across the country.

Once you’re talking about getting on a plane, however, all bets are off, unless you are truly dedicated to traveling with your own bedding and have extra money to burn on baggage.

Truth is, a pillow or a blanket can be a great addition to a car trip. Your own bedding is often very comforting, and if you’re going to see someone with limited bedding, it can also help your host.

English: A pile of pillows.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And if your young children have their special little pillow or blanket, you should certainly take that along with you. Separating children from their security blanket or pillow leads to stress all around.

We just read about someone who takes his own inflatable mattress and pillows on vacation, because they can blow them up in hotels for their kids. This saves money, because they can decrease the number of rooms they need, and young kids can pretend they’re camping out in the hotel room, which makes the trip more fun for them.

This plan is reasonable for a car trip, but if you wanted to take it on a plane, it might be an overwhelming burden. Those things are heavy!

My wife and I used to rent cabins with her family and the mattresses were not exactly the height of luxury; a blow up mattress was a great step up in comfort. Plus, bringing along an inflatable mattress was convenient because you can easily set these mattresses aside when you’re not sleeping. That can save you some room and make things seem less cramped.

Do you travel with your own bedding? Do you have a favorite pillow or blanket you won’t leave at home? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

First Look at Amazon Travel’s New Hotel Contract

March 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s never a surprise to hear that Amazon is planning to do something new, but this may be a little unusual: the online bookseller company has now decided to venture into the hotel booking business.

We recently read a Skift.com article about details about the contract, which discusses how they’re compensating the hotels and what type of commissions Amazon will receive for the service.

English: Bungalow at The Hotel Amazon Bed & Br...

Bungalow at The Hotel Amazon Bed & Breakfast, Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We actually didn’t even know Amazon was getting into the travel business, but it makes sense that an online mega-player such as Amazon would jump into the lucrative hotel marketplace. The company has already dipped its toes into the hotel booking pool by offering severely discounted, last minute deals via Amazon Local, which is a service similar to Groupon, but less well known.

The new scheme will expand that market significantly and allow hotels to list full price rooms.

It’s hard to say how their prices will shake out in comparison to discount travel sites at this point and it will be fascinating to see how this foray will work out for them. We’re especially interested to see how they stack up against Expedia, which we consider to be the main powerhouse in the travel website space.

Since Expedia has just gobbled up Travelocity, Orbitz, and other travel websites, we’ve seen a trend toward consolidation. It will be interesting to see how Amazon’s entrance affects all of that. Although the older companies have a big head start, Amazon is known for introducing change into the marketplace just by being one of the biggest.

According to the Skift article, Amazon Local first began discussing the plan with hotels last September and is already testing out the scheme in limited marketplaces.

What do you think about Amazon’s entrance into the travel space? Would you book a hotel room through them? And have you ever heard of Amazon Local before? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page, and let us know if you’ll use Amazon for future travel.

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