If you've stayed in enough hotels over the years, you pick up a few clues along the way. Here are some of mine:
1. When making a reservation, call the hotel direct whenever possible. They have immediate access to their inventory and will be able to make better deals.
2. Never accept the first rate you are quoted, keep pushing for lower rates and always ask for discounts. If you are a member of an organization like AARP, AAA or others, be sure to mention it.
3. If you are booking a vacation destination hotel, mid-week rates are lower. If you are booking a hotel in a large city, weekend rates are lower, because the business people check out on Thursday or Friday.
4. Try to stay away from Holiday weekends. As a boomer, hopefully your schedule is more flexible and you can steer clear of the crowds and higher prices.
5. Always check the cancellation policies of your hotel. Generally, you are able to cancel between 24 and 72 hours in advance of your trip, but make sure you know so you don't end up with an unexpected charge.
6. Minibars are NOT free! Don't try to fool them – they will know!
7. We all have cell phones – use them instead of the phones in your room. Some places allow free calls, but you need to check first. Don't forget to bring your chargers.
8. If you find yourself sticking with a particular hotel chain, be sure and sign up for their Rewards Program – it's free and you'll get perks.
9. Know the difference between an ocean view room and an ocean front room. Ocean front is the full view overlooking the water. Ocean view could mean that you may have to lean over the balcony to get a good glimpse.
10. If you think you may arrive after 6:00PM, be sure to guarantee for late arrival with your credit card. That way, a room will be waiting for you.
11. Mention special occasions. If you are getting married, are celebrating an anniversary, birthday or other happy event, mention it at the time of booking or check in. They may include a little treat – don't expect it, but hope for the best.
12. When traveling in Europe, try to book hotels during the “shoulder”season (mid-September to mid-November). The tourists and summer holiday revelers are gone and the weather is usually lovely. Hotels are not full and the rates become very desirable. Another perk of being a boomer – flexibility!
13. Speaking of Europe, know the bed categories. If there are 2 in a room and you request a room with two beds, they generally refer to it as a twin-bedded room. That means it will accommodate 2 people, not that there is one twin bed in the room. If you're not sure, clarify.
14. Always get a copy of your bill before you check out. Mistakes are made daily and not on purpose, so look it over to be sure no extra charges were added.
15. Don't leave your “Clean My Room” sign out when you are not in your room. That is a sure sign to let others with bad intentions know that no one is in the room. I especially caution women on this one.
16. Bring along sanitizing wipes. It's always good to wipe down remote controls and other devices in case housekeeping is not that thorough.
17. Speaking of housekeeping, it's a nice gesture to tip them between $1 and $5 per person, per night, depending on the type of hotel. Just leave it out each day in an envelope marked for them – they work very hard.
18. If you are worried about bedbugs and need to check for them before you unpack, place your luggage and belongings in the restroom on the tile floors where they are least likely to be.
19. Adjoining rooms – if you want them, ask at the time of booking, but be sure to mention it again at the front desk when you check in – the message doesn't always get delivered.
20. If you are traveling with a pet, check our Pet Patrol blog for the latest information.
If you have any tips to add, please share them with us.
June 24, 2013