Booking a hotel is easy. Booking the best hotel within a specific budget is an art form. Take these seven steps to filter out the good hotels from the bad and bag a deal in the process.
1) Pick a location and narrow down the hotel choices to ten properties.
Even in cities such as Paris, there is a limited amount of four star properties in the First Arroundissement, or family friendly hotels near the Eifel tower. Travel sites such as Hotels.com use a landmark tool to shortlist properties by location.
2) Take time to analyse the reviews.
A review by a person with little or no other activity on the travel site is suspicious. Look out for the wording such as, “there was ample parking, and the flowery curtains complimented the luxurious carpet. The hotel boasts 150 exquisite bedrooms, each with wifi” If it reads like a poorly worded brochure….next.
3) Ignore the rant and rave reviews.
These are regularly levelled by a disgruntled ex-employee or a travel jaded tourist. Often a small incident can ruin the hotel experience for a guest. If a slow check-in, missing toiletries or a mix up in room service is not immediately remedied by the hotel a guest will often search for other anomalies in the property. The review will inevitably finish with the trigger incident.
4) Get rid of the duds.
Beware of hotels with up and down reviews. When reviews are consistently adverse and have not been reconciled it screams volatile management. It’s not worth the risk, keep it moving! By now there should only be a handful of hotels in the preferred star rating and location with credible reviews. If any of the hotels appear at the bottom of the entire location listing get rid of it.
5) Ask for help.
As a final filter, sign on to a travel forum and ask for advice with the final decision. Tripadvisor, Fodors and Lonely Planet provide a travel forum with cyber reams of information for any destination or property. Past travelers are always happy to share their experience online; both good and bad. Tripadvisor also appoints ‘Destination Experts’ who go to great lengths to solve any travel related problem. Just ask a question, and wait for uncensored advice. If a property suggestion is flawed, it won’t take long for a previous guest to post a reply. Lastminute.com offers deals on ‘top secret’ properties. The travel forum is a good way to unravel the identity of the hotel by posting the information disclosed on the site.
6) Look for the best price by visiting the rate comparison sites.
Kayak, Trivago, and Tripadvisor all compare the rates of the major hotel sites, so there’s a small fortune to be saved by booking at the lowest price. If your only target property is too expensive, don’t despair. The rate can fall dramatically overnight if a property does not reach its occupancy target for a particular day. Similarly if there is a great deal; grab it. The chances are it won’t be there the next day.
7) Phone the property before hitting the booking button.
Let the hotel’s reservation team know the best online rate available. There are so many third party sites that this information may not be readily available to the hotel team. There may be more wiggle room with the rate because the third party web sites can earn up to 25% of the cost.
Also, not all the hotel rooms are loaded online. Interconnecting rooms and family rooms may be only available to guests who book directly with the hotel. A phone call is a personal interaction. It opens the door for a room upgrade or bottle of wine to celebrate a special occasion.
Once the research is complete, it’s time to relax with the knowledge that you have effectively gleaned the wisdom of those who have traveled before you. The travel forums are great so make sure when you return with your own savvy advice you pass it on to the next travel novice.