Sunday, May 13, 2007
Accommodations - A Different Thing to Different People
The Hopeful Traveler has largely avoided the subject of accommodations or searching for a hotel. This subject is one of the most difficult to discuss simply because the idea of a hotel means so many different things to everyone. But there are some basics you should know that are similar to how one chooses airfares.
Location: Like in real estate, it's all about the location. Your choice of city will make a primary difference. Overall the average price for a hotel room is much less in Las Vegas than New York City, for example. Prices will then vary for hotels in proximity to a lot of attractions in your choice of city as opposed to ones a little off the beaten path. In New York City, a hotel in Times Square will definitely carry a higher per room night fee than say hotels in lower Manhattan. Times Square will all its diversions for tourists is seen as a prime area to stay during any visit to the city.
Brand: Like purchasing a piece of clothing from a name brand manufacturer, so goes the rule with hotels that come under any of the major brands. Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt and Radisson are among the major players. Stays at these hotels will likely be more than independently owned or smaller chains in the same area. Often the services or amenties at these hotels are more than those at lesser known brands. But the personal touch at a smaller hotel with luxurious surroundings and limited rooms may carry a higher rate than those massive monoliths that some hotel brands operate.
Hotel Families: Because the big boys want to cover all walks of the hotel staying public, some of the major brands have additional brands that cater to some specific travelers tastes. Marriott, for example, has the Courtyard brand that caters to business travelers and offers less frills than one would find at one their Marriott named resorts. Hilton has the Garden Inn brand catering towards travelers on a budget or to families. Normally the difference between each hotel within a brand is the services, amenties, location and cost.
Dates of stay: The popularity of certain dates or even the day of the week will see the per night stay fluctuate. In big convention cities like San Francisco, Toronto or New York City some Monday-Friday rates will be through the roof when a big convention is in town. But because of the popularity of these cities with business travelers, weekend rates can be lower. Hotels at family destinations will see higher rates during school holidays. For all big cities, New Year's Eve carries high tarrifs.
Date of purchase: There is no doubt that planning ahead can help. Planning a stay in London? Radisson Edwardian Hotels usually have some advance specials where the Value Added Tax (VAT), a hefty 17.9%, is already included in the quoted per night rate and includes English breakfast. The Hilton brand offers a net advance rate that allows you to pay at a lower rate when booking the room rather than when checking out from your hotel.
Room location: Want a view, it will likely cost you. For a destination like Hawaii, a room with an ocean view will cost more per night than a room with a mountain view. Certain hotels have exclusive floors that have special amenties for those guests. The Marriott brand has a Concierge level where there is a private room for those guest to enjoy drinks and complimentary continental breakfast and hors d'oeurves.
Expectations: Often we demand more than what is actually offered. Be sure that everything you had expected in the hotel is offered. A clean room is a reasonable demand. 24-hour room service must be advertised as so.
Speak-Up: Often hotel stays are ruined because nobody bothers to bring up bad service to hotel management and demand that it is corrected. Being realistic will help you here as well. The room was not clean when you checked in? Call the front desk ASAP. On the other side of the coin, hotels also appreciate when you comment their services or particular employee for an outstanding job.
T.H.T. views a hotel as a home away from home. Many will always say a hotel is just someplace where you sleep. However the most complaints T.H.T hears about are usually about the accomodations. A traveler needs to look at all aspects of a hotel choice. Cost is the primary factor but consider location and amenities for example. Recommendations are often someplace to start but do as much thorough research as possible. Hotel booking consolidation websites will offer a variety of price comparisons in addition to customer comments. Even if you are not planning to use a site like hotel.com, just consider the information it has to offer. Always check directly with the a hotel's official website to determine base prices before checking a site like hotel.com or orbitz.com.
Someone once told T.H.T of his champagne tastes when it comes to hotels. Yes, the T.H.T. loves such things as the chocolates on the pillow and the newspaper delivered each morning. But the research, plans and budgets are carefully thought about as soon as possible. When a last minute trip is in the making, the T.H.T.'s expectations are then drastically altered to then be realistic about choice of hotel, dates and cost. One has to be so complaints should be very rare or very few.