We share a lot of hotel insider secrets here on the Travelpro blog, but we always keep our eye out for new ones to share. We were rewarded last month when USA Today published its article, Hotel secrets: Insider tips for lower prices and better service.
Glenn Haussman is a podcaster with shows like “No Vacancy” and “Checking In With Anthony and Glenn” (co-hosted with Anthony Melchiorri from Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”) Glenn shared a few secrets with USA Today about how to find better prices and service.
One suggestion that was new to us was to understand who owns the hotel? Most hotels in a chain are rarely owned by the name on the front — Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott — but are instead owned by a franchisee. That means if you have a service complaint, you should direct it to the real owner, and not the brand’s customer service line. You can often find the name of the ownership company on a plaque near the front desk
Another hotel secret we’ve discussed before is watch out for resort fees. These are mandatory fees that are usually added on by the hotel after you’ve received your initial price quote, and go toward amenities like parking, pool, and workout facilities.
“Resort fees are a scourge,” Haussman told USA Today. “They create an antagonistic relationship with the customer, which is antithetical to everything the hospitality industry is supposed to be about.”
The best way around the resort fees, says Haussman, is to call the hotel ahead of time and negotiate your room rate directly — don’t go through the website, don’t go through the customer service (800) number. The best deals will be gotten by speaking with the hotel’s general manager. This is especially important if you’re not going to avail yourself of the different amenities the hotel offers, like a swimming pool or workout facility.
Haussman’s third big secret is to book your hotel room directly, not go through an online third-party booking site. The hotels have to pay those third-party sites as much as 20 percent of the hotel cost if they refer guests to them, so the hotels don’t want to pay it. That’s also why you don’t get loyalty points, and may even get less-than-preferential treatment from the hotels. The fee can be even higher for independent hotels than the big chain hotels.
So Haussman’s recommendation is that you should call the hotel directly to book your room (that’s also when you can negotiate the resort fees). Haussman says most hotels are happy to give you a 5 – 10 percent discount just to save on the referral fees.
Another secret we’d never heard, but it makes a lot of sense: If you want to switch hotel brands, even though you’ve had long loyalty with the old brand, is to ask for a status match with the new hotel. Whether you want to just test out the new hotel or want to switch completely, it’s often not necessary to start over with the new hotel.
Finally, always try to stay in the newer hotels. They have the faster Internet speeds and the larger TVs. Plus, you’re more likely to get the frequent traveler upgrades, since it often takes a year or more to get a new hotel’s business up to a profitable level. That means the upgrade rooms will sometimes sit empty, which means you can snag one fairly easily (or even for free if they won’t budge on the resort fees).
Photo credit: David Jensen (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)