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Paying Less for the Right Hotel
Hotel costs can take up a lot of your budget. No-frills, mega-budget hotels can be an option, but what if you are not ready to give up all the amenities that can make your trip comfortable and fun? Readers Digest has some suggestions for getting what you want – for less.
First, decide exactly what you want. For example, are you driving or flying and renting a car? That might mean that free parking is important to you but you can be a little farther away from the sites you plan to see.
Is it important for you to have a full complimentary breakfast or a fitness center? Do you want a shuttle to and from the airport or local attractions? Do you want to be close to a specific attraction or to public transportation? Are you looking for a pool?
If a major concern is location, you can use various online sites to map hotels. Google Maps also lets you look at how close various hotels are to the places you want to be.
Check out travel reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor or Expedia to get the impressions of other people who stayed in the hotels you are considering. You also can use those sites to get an idea of how much rooms cost.
However, when it comes to actually booking, call the hotel directly. Don’t book online, either through the hotel or another website, and don’t use the 800 number, which usually takes you to a central call center. Instead, call the hotel desk and talk to someone in reservations. Tell them the cheapest price you saw online, and ask if they can beat it. Hotels are often more than willing to offer a discount rather than let rooms go unused. (Obviously, don’t expect a discount during peak travel periods.)
Especially if you have negotiated a deal, write down the name of the person you talked to and the details of the reservation. And, once you get close to your travel dates, call again to confirm the rate and any additional amenities you were promised.
When you get there, take a careful look at the room when you check in. If it was not the room you were promised, let the front desk know immediately. If there are issues that might interfere with your enjoyment of the room – such as construction outside your window or a malfunctioning TV – let them know about that too. If they cannot fix the problem, ask to be moved to another room.
If you don’t get the response you need from the front desk, ask to speak to the manager and continue up the chain of command until you get satisfaction. Keep notes about your conversations, including the names of people you talked to, what they said they could do and what actually happened.
When you check out, take a look at your bill to make sure you were not charged for things you did not use, such as WiFi, movie rentals or food from the mini-bar. (If you used those things, of course you need to pay for them.)
Finally, be pleasant and cheerful with the hotel employees, and they will be much more likely to be pleasant and responsive to you. It might not save you money, but it could make your stay much more enjoyable.