Making A Hotel Reservation?

Use these tips to get a better deal

Whether you like to stay at the Four Seasons or the Hilton, get discounts that count! According to The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel by Joel L. Widzer (Travelers’ Tales Guides; $12.95), you don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy luxury hotels. Of course, you can go online to www.hotels.com or www.expedia.com for discounts, or you can bundle your car, air, and hotel fares. But did you know there are other ways to get discounts on hotels?

When booking your next hotel reservation, consider these tips:

  • Join a frequent guest program. “The hotel industry is a highly competitive business that is vulnerable to certain economic cycles,” says Widzer, so frequent guest programs were invented. Most of the major chains such as Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Westin offer such programs. And although more upscale places like the Ritz-Carlton “do not actively promote a frequent guest program, they do make special accommodations and upgrades available to their most loyal guests,” he says.
  • Get to know the hotel manager, reservations manager, and bell captain. All businesses love repeat customers, so find out who’s in charge and make friends–fast! These are the people who know the most about the hotel, from the best views to the best rates to the best times of the year to visit. Be sure to remind these key players how much you’ve enjoyed your stay and that you’re a longtime customer, or let them know of your intention to revisit if it’s your first time.
  • Don’t be afraid to tip an extra buck or two! You don’t need to be extravagant with tipping, but “you’ll want to tip a sufficient amount to make an impact, enough for the staff to remember you and ensure preferential treatment,” says Widzer. Typically, he tips valet parking attendants, bell staff, and any staff of a restaurant that he plans to frequent a bit more in the beginning and then scales back to a customary tip. That may translate to a 20% to 25% tip up front, while maintaining a 15% tip during the stay.

For more information, read Hotel Secrets from The Travel Detective by Peter Greenberg (Random House; $14.95).

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