Travel Tips & Tricks: Hotels

Good morning, Pigeon Handlers. Well, depending on where you are, that is. If it is dark as night outside your window, consider this a bedtime story.

If you enjoyed the lengthy Hotel, Motel post yesterday, then you are in for a treat!

“It was so long I just now finished reading it.”

Pish, posh. You’re just saying that because you weren’t able to leave because of Napping Janet from Accounting. You woke up at the office and the boss thinks you’re hear cause you’re a dedicated employee and you don’t want to screw anything up. Have no fear, procrastinate another day with the Chief Pigeon Handler!

Anywho, Hotels. While our last post was comparing the different hotels you might encounter from Kosciusko to Key West, today we’ll be going over a few tricks and tips that might help you while you are in the process of booking your room. Don’t worry, I’ll be Frank today. So, this is what life is like for someone named Frank. To be honest, I don’t feel much different. I digress.

Book in Advance

There’s a travel tip you’ve probably heard before. But folks, its true. I think. I don’t know. But I do, kinda. I’m not here to tell you the secret to life. Does reserving your room three weeks in advance but only if there’s a full moon really get you the absolute best rate? I can’t lie and tell you that. Things are seasonal. Rates are different between weekdays and weekends. Towns are more popular than others. 

What I can tell you, and this isn’t just for hotels, is this: There’s a difference between I need a room vs I have a reservation. If you walk up to the counter at 11:30PM and tell the clerk you are in desperate need of a room, chances are that you are tired enough to pay whatever they tell you. 

Join the Club

Face it, you already get thousands of email and robot calls from signing up for shit with your phone number, facebook, and email. That’s what we get for lying about reading the terms and conditions. Point is, what’s another few invasions of privacy in the form of spam.

Maybe that’s not the best way to word this…

Anywho, let’s download some apps!

If you trudged through the last article, you might have noticed phrases like IHG or Marriott-Bonvoy families. What that means is that the hotels have done Proctor & Gamble’d! That’s right, you’d be surprised about the family trees on some of these hotels. 

From the last piece, you’ll remember that Candlewood and Holiday are both IHG branded hotels. 

“But what does that mean?” You ask, trying to look like you’re doing something instead of sucking it up and running out the door to go play Uno with the gals. 

This: If you join the IHG (or any other hotel brands) cult and download the app, you’ve done a few things.

  • You’ve joined a club, which means you are included in things. Let’s face it, extroverts love being parts of many things and introverts sometimes want to be part of the party, even though they’ll hate every minute of it. This works for both. Extroverts are family now. Introverts are also family now, they just don’t have to socialize, because it’s robots.
  • You have access to discounted rates from any of the family of hotels vs walk ups
    • Case in point: I started using the apps during my Florida travels and would often book directly from the app. For my Crystal River stay, the app listed the membership rate as 91 doll-hairs American, but I didn’t want to mess with entering my information in the system. I simply walked up and requested a room (which I new was available). The clerk said the going rate was 94, but I name dropped my self as on of the IHG cousins and got that 91 rate instead. Not much, but every little bit adds up.

Sure, you’ll get more emails and phone calls and your information is probably being sold somewhere, but the same thing is happening via Facebook, Tinder, and that make-me-look-older app.

Research

Whether or not you joined up with any of the brands, you can always do your due diligence. Sometimes your destination is a lot of people’s destinations and there are lots of options. You wouldn’t want to just drive in blindly and pick the first spot, would you? I didn’t think so, you’re one smart cookie, just don’t tell Janet that. She’s got a sweet tooth.

The apps are convenient because you can type in the city your going to and they’ll list all of their assets in that area, giving you a bunch of options. Plus if you belong to multiple parties, you can compare who’s got the better rate. 

Another example from yesterday’s piece was that you might have noticed that I picked the Holiday Inn as the overall winner. If that was the case, why didn’t I just stay at IHG properties exclusively? Research, that’s why. The contest yesterday was based off a small sample size. When I stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Sarasota, that was because I looked and saw that the Holiday Inn (my preference) in the same area was more expensive. Thus, I went with the Marriott-Bonvoy option. 

Another research method? Use a map! Is there a smaller town close to your destination? We’re not talking about five minutes now, you might have to do a little more road tripping. But whats the harm in the scenic route if a thirty minute drive might save you thirty dollars? None so far as I can see. 

The point is, if you piece all three of these tips together, you can really take charge of your vacation or travels. I should know, I didn’t.

Talk to People

Guess what introverts, this one is personal. Yes, there is still hope for you to save a little green even if you’ve chosen not to follow any of the tips above. I don’t blame you if you chose to go that route. You like your information secure. You like telling cashiers at Best Buy that they don’t need your phone or email in order for you to buy a flash drive. I try to be the same way most of the time, but sometimes I cave.

So if you are a walk-in, 11:30PM kinda traveler, here’s an industry tip that might get the Hotel Cartels after me:

During one of my stays, I happened to glance at an ill-placed piece of paper that was titled Discount Schedule. Basically, if I understood the document right, there is an acceptable discount based on occupancy and availability. Some clerks will just go ahead and give you the discounted rate. Why? I don’t know, maybe they think you’re cute. Maybe they’re just nice. 

If they don’t, which you wouldn’t really know, that’s where you have to get the words working. The first time I tried this method, I was coming back from watching the Eclipse In Missouri. It was late and I was tired. Too tired to make it back to the farm, so I stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas at a hotel cluster that was typical for bigger cities like that. I went into one and asked if they had any rooms left. I know, that’s breaking that rule I made in the first point, but I was younger then. The clerk told me the price and I balked a little. I was younger, but still a relative tight-ass, so I told him I was gonna check the other hotels that were in walking distance.

“Well, what if I knocked twenty off the top?”

Come again? “Deal.”

Now, that was without any knowledge of how the business works. And maybe I just showed confidence and secretly negotiated that without trying to. Doesn’t matter, you have the final say on what you pay.

Don’t want to go through the hassle of acting like a hard-ball business person? No sweat, remember those clusters of hotels we was just talking about? Same thing, different state. 

Pensacola, Florida. 13 hours of driving. I first pulled into a Hilton branded hotel, mostly because I’m a Hilton Honors member (more on this in the bonus section), and I was tired. Even with my ultra-cool membership, the price was purdy steep. I told the chap, I’m gonna try my luck elsewhere. 

So I did. Right next door was the Red Roof Inn and a room sixty bucks cheaper. 

Moral of the story, get those gums moving and talk it out.

Le Conclusion

There you have it folks, just a few tips that hopefully might help you save a few dollars on your next trip. And what could you do with all your savings? I wonder…

Bonus Section

Branded Credit Cards

You may have heard of branded credit cards. Holiday Inn Visa. Hilton Honors Amex. The list is long. Again, You’re an adult and can make your own judgements and should know better than to lay blame if you can’t on a poorly written internet article. Credit Cards are what they are.

Yes, you’ll save money on select hotels by teaming up with a brand. But be responsible. Having thirty (or one, depending on how you look at it) credit cards is probably not a good long term strategy. Besides, you can probably just join the rewards program without adding another line of credit. Just to prove I’m not being preachy, I have a branded credit card. Do I like it? No, because I was a dumbass and got the Hilton one. Their discounted rates are still higher than giraffe…well, you get the picture. 

Out of all the ways to save money on your hotel stay, this one is probably more harm than good. But you do you.

Do you have additional tips that I don’t know about? Leave them in the comment section or post them to any of the social medias I have and you follow. Oh, you don’t have social media but are still here? Let me know that too. Somehow, you’ve heard of this nonsense page all without having to deal with facetagram and i want inn on that action. See what I did? Another Hotel Pun. And that folks, is why ya’ll are here.

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