Travel over the years has changed so much. In the days I was a child, my parents just went down to the local AAA office, got some trip “tics”, asked them to reserve a room at a “motel” (a word many in the hotel industry cringe at) and that was it. They didn’t read reviews, didn’t question the agent, if it was a fair price and was on the way, they booked it.
Now days there is so much more to consider – price, location, customer reviews, amenities, breakfast, pool, free wifi, pet friendly, security, and on and on and on. I remember on my last vacation with my family, we searched the internet for days before we decided on where to stay. We looked at dozens of locations, photos, read reviews and booked on one of those sites that says you can reserve a room for less on their site than any place else.
I will give credit to the internet for allowing us to preview where we will stay, what the room might look like and read some past experiences from the guests. However, that in itself also confused us even more. Do we stay at the hotel that has all positive reviews? How can they never get a complaint? Or do we stay at the hotel that has mixed reviews? What if we get there on one of there “off” days? Then there are the photos. Of course they look great. Would a hotel post a photo of a bad looking room? Will my room have those fresh cut flowers, the perfect linen, and the fresh baked cookies on the table? Probably not, but I would hope that it would be a reasonable facsimile of the type of room I would get.
At times hotels themselves make it even more confusing. I remember back in the 70’s I worked at a well know chain hotel on the beach in Singer Island Florida. We had two room choices, Ocean View and Ocean Front. Do you know the difference? Well neither did most of the guests. Ocean Front meant “facing the ocean”. Ocean View meant you will see at least a tip of the ocean if you stand high enough on your balcony and have someone hold on to you while you leaned over! What about the difference between adjoining or connecting rooms? Do you know the difference?
Now days, with all the travel websites claiming the best rates, best deals and offer all kinds of reviews, photos etc., I pity the person who has to decide on where to stay. So, as a hotelier, who has been in the business for over 30 years, I will give you a little secret. If you want to reserve the best rooms, at the best rate, at the right time, contact the hotel directly either through their website or over the phone. Talk to a person who works there and tell them all your needs. Ask them about their rooms. Look on their site at their photos, and you know what, their site will offer you the same rates, or better, than all those travel sites out there. By booking with the hotel directly, you are pretty much assured to get all your questions answered by people who work there, and not a site that is not connected with the hotel.
LivINN Hotels now offers a “Little Known Secret Rate” that allows you to book at a lower rate than any travel site on the Internet. Check them out a www.livinn.com and compare. So shop their site, and you will save!