Do yourself a favor and avoid these ten hotel booking mistakes you’re making.
10. Opting for the Lowest Rate
Don’t assume that finding the lowest rate means you’ve found the best deal. Instead, look for offers that provide the most value, like those that include free breakfast and parking. “It’s something to always look for because – at the end of the day – those are things that will cost you money, so it adds value to your stay,” Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor at Orbitz.com, told U.S. News & World Report. And, here’s another tip from Tornatore: You’re more likely to get a discounted rate when you book a package deal that includes airfare or a rental car. If, however, getting a great price is your primary goal, you need to shop around on sites like Expedia and Trivago.
9. Booking Too Early or Too Late
Booking a hotel in a European country at the last minute is a definite no-no. That’s because Europe is a very popular summertime vacation destination. You’ll get the best rates if you book three to five months in advance instead. According to a TripAdvisor report, you can save 33 percent on hotels in Prague and Berlin by booking between two and five months out. Beware of booking a hotel for more than five months in advance, though. You’ll end up paying more. Barcelona and Moscow are the exceptions to this rule. According to TripAdvisor, you’ll see significant savings by booking hotels in these cities up to seven months in advance.
On the flip side, you’ll save money if you don’t book an Asian hotel too early. Sometimes the lowest prices occur within two weeks of your trip. In Singapore, for example, you can potentially save 26 percent by looking for deals just two weeks in advance.
8. Missing Out on Hotel Rewards
It’s quite easy to sign up for a hotel’s rewards program. Plus, it’s free and it comes with lots of perks, including free stays, free breakfast, and free internet. It also comes with preferred treatment when booking. And, you have the chance to rack up more points each time you stay at a hotel.
TIP: If you’re worried about being bombarded by emails after you sign up, don’t be. All you have to do is just unsubscribe from them. You’ll still get your rewards points.
7. Booking Through a Third-Party Site
Most hotels and B&Bs offer lower rates, special perks and exclusive deals when you book directly through their website, Stephen Fofanoff, General Manager of Washington’s Domaine Madeleine, told INSIDER. Not only that, but third-party sites often charge hotels a commission. And, guess who those fees get passed off to? Yep, that’s right! You and I.
Here’s something else to keep in mind: If you’re not careful, you could end up booking a hotel through an impostor site that could steal your credit card information. You need to beware of shady booking agents, too, who could end up overcharging you for your stay. If you’re unsure of a website’s legitimacy, you can always call the hotel first to get a verification from them.
6. Not Using a Credit Card
When you book a hotel room using a credit card, you can earn points and rewards. Plus, paying with a credit card makes it a whole lot easier to dispute charges on your bill than if you were to pay with cash or even a debit card. So, then the question becomes ‘why would I need to dispute charges on my bill?’ Well, according to ABC News, one reason is that you could end up being a target of identity theft. Another reason is that hotel bills often have hidden charges (a.k.a. unexpected fees). “Many New York hotels located near Times Square are now charging an extra $25 destination fee. Some properties add on a resort fee for amenities — even when you’re not staying [at] the resort. Then, there’s the obnoxious restocking fee for those macadamia nuts you ate when you couldn’t bring yourself to walk a block to find food,” ABC News wrote on its website.
TIP: To be on the safe side, make sure you pay with a credit card and research the hotel’s fees prior to booking your stay.
5. Not Reading Customer Reviews
It’s perfectly fine to log on to the hotel’s website and check out any photos they have posted. But, if you don’t want any unpleasant surprises when you arrive, it’s best to go online and check out some customer reviews before booking a stay. That’s because what you see on their website may not be entirely accurate. According to an article published by MSN, some hotels have gone so far as to Photoshop some of their images just to make their property look better. Your best bet is to look at sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Booking.com to see what experiences others have had.
4. Not Reading the Fine Print
As we mentioned earlier, hotel bills often have unexpected fees. And, they’re usually unexpected because people don’t take the time to read the fine print. But, it’s not just the fees you need to learn about. You also need to read the hotel’s cancellation policy. If something were to come up at the last minute, will you be able to get a refund? And, what about the hotel’s rewards program? Are there any stipulations for earning points? Do yourself a favor and make sure you go over the fine print with a fine-tooth comb before booking.
3. Not Double-Checking the Hotel’s Location
Before booking a hotel, you might just want to plug the address into Google Maps and see if it’s location is suited to your needs. The last thing you want to do is book a room that’s across town from where you’ll be spending most of your time. This will definitely add to your transportation costs. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what is being advertised online. According to an article published by MSN, some hotels refer to themselves as “beach resorts” when in actuality they’re about a mile from the nearest beach.
2. Not Confirming Your Reservation with the Hotel
To cut down on any confusion, do yourself a favor and call the hotel to confirm your reservation a few days in advance before you show up. Make sure you write down the name of the person you spoke with. And, after you’ve confirmed your reservation, confirm that the hotel is aware of any special requests you put in at the time of booking, such as a rollaway bed for a child, a quiet room, or a room with a view of the ocean.
1. Not Keeping a Copy of Your Reservation
Keep in mind that even if you do call in advance to confirm everything, there’s still the possibility that the hotel might lose any record of your reservation. And, worse yet, there are no rooms available. Your best bet, in this case, is to make sure you have a copy of your reservation on hand. “This will confirm that it’s their mistake, not yours,” according to an article published by MSN. “Once you’ve proven that you have a record of the reservation, the vast majority of hotels will accommodate you at no charge at a similar hotel. This procedure is called ‘walking,’ and if you politely ask the front desk to walk you to another hotel, the odds are good that you’ll be taken care of.”
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid when booking a hotel, click here to learn what things you should never do when staying at a hotel.