Hotel booking lives in a new world these days: the World Wide Web. So how do you go about booking a hotel room online? Whether you want to save time, money, frustration (or all of the above), there are some basic online hotel booking tips that will help you navigate the Internet for the best deals.
An important tip for booking hotel rooms online is to assess your needs. Things you may want to consider before searching for a hotel room online are:
- The size and number of beds
- Handicapped rooms
- Free parking
- Free breakfast
- 24 hour room service
- Concierge Service
- Access to the hotel’s restaurant
- Access to fitness centers
Are you booking your hotel room online for romance, family fun, sports, shopping or relaxation? The reason for your stay will have a profound effect on which hotel room is right for you. Don’t forget about this important deciding factor when booking a hotel room online.
The following article from FindLaw.com shares valuable tips for booking hotel rooms in general, whether you book through online booking sites or through the hotel directly. Take these general hotel booking tips into consideration before your next trip. Your search for the best hotel reservation will be made that much easier and less stressful.
Tips on How to Book a Hotel Room
Booking a hotel room is a little like buying a big-screen television. If you don’t do your homework beforehand to find the best combination of features, quality, and price, you’re likely to feel burned when you find out after buying it that another store had a better TV for less money. Getting burned with a hotel room is arguably worse because not only do you have to live there, the better deals are staring you right in the face, because they’re probably the next hotel over. To avoid this situation, use some of the following tips on how best to book a hotel room.
To book a hotel room with the best chance of satisfying your wallet and your needs, you’ll spend almost all of your time searching for the right place. To maximize these efforts you should take advantage of internet travel sites, consumer reviews, and travel agents. Follow these steps and you should be in good shape:
- Browse travel websites. Many trips and hotel bookings are now purchased through commercial websites such as Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Orbitz.com, and Hotels.com. Be sure to shop around sites for the best deal and don’t forget to visit the hotel website itself. Individual hotel websites often have deals that don’t appear on commercial sites. And be sure to read reviews of the hotel on these commercial booking sites.
- Take a look at cancellation policies. If you do book on a commercial website, be sure to research their cancellation policy. While most sites have stopped charging steep cancellation fees (sometimes the entire cost of the booking), you need to make sure that you can book on the site and cancel without a fee the hotel reservation if you have to.
- Read the reviews. Check out consumer review sites like TripAdvisor.com, which gathers and aggregates reviews of hotels by former patrons. TripAdvisor.com is a good resource because it organizes reviews by the type of stay (e.g., couples, business trip, young travelers, etc.) so that you can search for people most like yourself and see what they had to say about the hotel. Often, the reviews will speak to whatever attributes you’re looking for in a hotel and you can make better decisions based upon them.
- Dig deeper on deals that are too good to be true. If a deal seems substantially lower than surrounding hotels, check to make sure the hotel isn’t being renovated or there’s not another reason for the low price (e.g., it’s in a high crime area or is very old and run down).
- Look up the location. If you have a target geographic area, punch in the address into Google maps. You can zoom in to see exactly where it is as well as the surrounding area (the map will tell you surrounding stores, restaurants, etc.), and you can take advantage of Google’s street view feature to see exactly what your hotel and surround area look like.
- Call ahead. Once you’ve targeted a hotel or whittled your list to several hotels, be sure to call them and ask about your needs or concerns. For example, if you’ll want to make a lot of phone calls, you’ll want to ask if they have free local calling and how much they charge for long distance calls. Or you want to know how big the pool is and whether they have a lifeguard on duty. Whatever your concerns, ask the concierge on the phone so you can book with confidence.
- Contact a travel agent for exotic or remote destinations. If your trip involves a more exotic or remote location, you should probably consult a travel agent who knows the area, the culture, and the businesses in the area. Travel agents can be very useful in avoiding the pitfalls that come with booking exotic travel online.
Booking and Arrival
Once you’re ready to book a hotel room, there are still a few more questions that you should confirm before committing and certain actions you should take to preemptively avoid hassles and headaches upon arrival.
- Check for these before. Before committing to book your room, find out:
- The amount of the deposit.
- The cutoff date for cancelling your reservation with incurring a penalty (for most hotels it is 24-48 hours before arrival, or else you will be charged the first night’s stay on your credit card).
- Any discounts the hotel offers (senior discount, government discount, military, etc.)
- Check-in and check-out times. If you’re going to be checking in very late, be sure to inform them so they don’t give your room to another patron. Hotels have a custom of overbooking rooms, and have been known to bump very late arriving guests.
- If they charge any extra fees for your stay (resort fee, parking, etc.)
- Request the type of room. When you make the reservation, be sure to request the type of room you want. For example, if noise is an issue, you’ll want to be placed away from elevators, ice machines, and in a room not facing the street. If it’s a resort and they have a night club at the pool, you’ll want to be on a side not facing the pool. Whatever your needs, communicate them clearly to the concierge.
- Book with a credit card. Book your hotel with a credit card rather than an debit card. Credit cards offer consumers far more protection in the event of fraud. If there is a fraudulent transaction, you’ll only be on the hook for $50 and the credit card will fight the wrongdoer on your behalf and cover expenses incurred on the card over $50. With a debit card, however, you will likely to have fight the entire charge on your own.
- Confirm the reservation. Call the hotel a few weeks before your stay to confirm they have your reservation and to confirm they have your special requests (e.g., room away from noise).
- Get it in writing. Ask for written confirmation for all reservations. Almost all hotels will send you an email confirmation of your reservation or will fax you confirmation if you don’t have email access. Be sure to bring a copy of your reservation when checking in, just in case the hotel loses you in their system.
No matter the reason you’re traveling, finding the right hotel room for a reasonable price is probably on your bucket list.
We’ve provided a few extra tips for booking hotel rooms online to help you save in the right places:
Stay connected. Sign up to receive hotel newsletters, or even become a Facebook fan, to make sure you don’t miss out on any promotions or travel deals. Those that stay connected are often the first to know about great deals!
Save the date. If possible, consider booking your hotel room on different dates. You can save tremendously if you book your hotel room during off-season, plus you’ll have the added benefit of fewer crowds, shorter lines for attractions and cheaper tickets to local shows and events.
Eight days a week. Depending on whether you’re traveling for business or tourism purposes, hotel rooms tend to be more expensive when booking during the week or weekend, respectively. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, booking your hotel room online
See before you book. The Beechwood Hotel is proud to be featured on Room77.com, a database of hotel rooms and an innovative hotel booking website. Using Google Maps and reviewing the Hotel’s floor plan, Room 77 was able to create virtual views from all 73 of Beechwood’s hotel rooms. How do you benefit? When booking your online hotel reservations at Beechwood Hotel, you can see the rooms with the “Best Views,” and thusly book the hotel room that best suits your stay.
Do some groundwork now so that you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation. These online hotel booking tips should help you save more and stress less!