Insiders Reveal Seven Travel Tricks They Learned in Hotel School?
F ormer hotel managers and hospitality business professors reveal what they learned from their years in the business — as well as how what they learned affects the way they travel — and they share the seven travel tricks they learned in hotel school to help your next trip be easier, cheaper, and more comfortable in this article written by Cassie Shortsleeve of Yahoo! Travel.
1. Make Friends with the Bellman
Try the bellman first to ask about seeing and experiencing the local culture of the people of where you are visiting in addition to — or instead of — indulging in the more popular “tourist traps.” According to the aforementioned article, “they will not only be able to suggest a great hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot, but they also likely know the area well — and can steer you clear of sketchy parts of town or unsafe neighborhoods.”
My experience suggests to me that while this is good advice, it is not always true. I have followed the recommendations from members of the hotel staff; and they were not always right for me. There is also the possibility that the hotel property could have a “business arrangement” with certain establishments and might steer you towards a “partner” which may or may not be in your best interests.
A better bet is to do some research via the Internet about the place where you are visiting; and ask questions on travel forums such as InsideFlyer and FlyerTalk, where you will hopefully receive advice from fellow travelers who have already been to where you plan on visiting and can give you some potentially useful first-hand advice.
If you happen to already be at your destination, you might want to consider asking someone who is not affiliated with the hotel — such as a fellow patron in a restaurant or a passenger on a train as two of many examples — for advice. This can double as a good “ice breaker” for conversation with local people — even if you happen to be naturally shy.
2. Travel at the Right Times
Hotel rates are mainly based on one factor: demand. If you want the least expensive and yet quietest experience, plan trips for times at low demand — such as two weeks before Christmas, the end of August, or the first few weeks of September — and not when demand is at its peak.
You are reading The Gate, which resides at BoardingArea. Raise your hand if you did not already know this advice.
No hands. Hmm…I thought so…
3. Ask Questions Until You Get a Discounted Room Rate
I am confident that you already know how to ask for a discounted room rate — whether you have legitimate access to a corporate rate; to a discount as a result of being affiliated with an association such as the American Automobile Association or the American Association of Retired Persons; or to a discounted rate simply because you have earned elite level status in a frequent guest loyalty program. You also already know to check BoardingArea for sales on hotel room rates as published in articles by “bloggers.” You most likely do not need to hear this advice which could arguably be classified as frequent traveler 101.
While you should not hold your breath until you turn blue, it never hurts to negotiate for a less expensive room rate with an agent on the other side of the front desk once you arrive at the hotel property on the day of your reservation. All bets are off if the hotel property is crowded, indicating that it may be full for the night.
The aforementioned article states that “Hotels are, or should be, ready to negotiate rates in person. ‘Some will stick to their first stated rate, and I’ll leave. Others realize that if I walk away, they will have an empty room so negotiate freely.’” Really? That is rather poor advice with the advent of stricter day before cancellation policies adopted last year by lodging companies such as Starwood, Hilton and Marriott which requires cancellation at least 24 hours in advance without penalty; but I suppose that if you find yourself at an independent or “boutique” hotel property with more lenient cancellation policies, you might — I repeat, might — be able to get away with walking away.
I prefer to book the lowest rate possible prior to traveling — but that is just me…
4. You Can Usually Stay at a Hotel Till 3 P.M. — Just Ask
“Late checkouts of up to 3 p.m. or even 4 p.m. (depending upon the location) are generally not a problem.”
Although I once again agree that it never hurts to ask, try telling that to frequent travelers — at times, even those with elite level status, depending on the vacancy rate of the hotel property — who have been unsuccessful with having this request fulfilled. It does not always work.
5. Pay Less for a Room by Calling the Hotel Directly at Night
“The only people who will negotiate a rate is the hotel themselves.” I have to admit that I have not tried calling a hotel property directly at night time to secure a discount of sorts — but then again, this seems to be similar advice to asking questions until you get a discounted room rate. The only difference is that this technique is via telephone rather than in person; and only at night.
“You’re dealing with someone who may not have a supervisor around and who is in a better position to lower the rate; hotels want your business and will usually come down in price if demand is low.”
Yes — and as one late sportscaster used to say — more often than not, when a baseball is hit out of the park in fair territory, it is usually a home run. Got it.
6. Pick the Bed Farther Away From the Window
People tend to take the one closest to window — and I admit that I am one of those people. Unlike many hotel guests, I actually like being greeted with sunlight in the morning and usually do not close the curtains or shades.
“‘Hotels are supposed to rotate the beds, but sometimes they don’t.’ So use this to your advantage and take the bed closest to wall — it’s usually much more comfortable because it gets less use and is likely cleaner, too.”
I am certainly not the most knowledgeable person on the topic of housekeeping in a hotel room; but if the bed closest to the wall gets less use, does that not mean that it is also cleaned fewer times than the bed nearest to the window?
7. Compliment Front of the House Staff
Compliments? Flattery? This is the recommended advice which you and I should follow?!?
Rather, treat employees of a hotel property politely, civilly and with respect — as you should do with virtually anyone else you meet in your travels — and yes, do it with a smile if you can. Use words such as please and thank you. You might be surprised how far that could get you — especially if you are sincere. Unless you are truly honest about them, compliments and flattery can be interpreted as phony — especially when you are not sincere — and it will show.
For example, when an employee advises me that he or she will be a few minutes before they can engage in a transaction with me, I will usually reply with “Not a problem. Take your time.” They are grateful when a customer is patient; and they will usually return the favor with something as small as a smile to fulfilling your requests — to perhaps voluntarily offer to give you extra goodies just for being flexible.
I cannot tell you how many times employees of hotel and other travel companies appreciate when they are treated like human beings — especially after being verbally assaulted by a customer preceding me.
This is no different than how you should treat anyone who is in a position of customer service whose job can be thankless at times — such as a gate agent at an airport.
Be yourself and do what you can to brighten the day of employees of a hotel or other segments of the travel industry, as it takes little effort and time to do so — but do be genuine about it.
At best, there is a mixed bag of advice from the original aforementioned article; but I do not consider them to be “insider” tips by any stretch of the imagination.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.