I love to travel. If I am home for too long without a little break, I go through withdrawals. Traveling relaxes me. It gives me a chance to clear my head and think about something besides cooking and cleaning. I get the chance to refill my cup because I am constantly pouring out.
I spend quite a bit of time away from home…between visits, vacations and my son and the busyness of chasing his dreams. I have learned so much about how to save money and maximize my stays, whether in big or small ways. We may not find the hotel that has it all and is our true “home away from home”, but we can make even the smallest getaway feel like a gift.
Here are a few of the things that I have learned through my travels and stays in hotels…
Arrive early, stay late.
I learned this little treat on my last cruise in August. If you are a part of a loyalty group, based on availability, if you ask about coming early or staying later, the hotel will usually oblige. Believe me, it is not unusual for someone to ask for an extension. They will normally say that they cannot guarantee the request in advance but they can make a note in the system and most will try to accommodate. On our last stay in Miami, not only did they allow us an early check-in at 11:00 am, but they upgraded our room to the penthouse suite…oceanfront! So whether you arrive one hour earlier, or four, like we did, it is still a win.
Let them know in advance that you are celebrating an occasion.
Call the hotel ahead of time and let them know of your occasion. Whatever it is…anniversary, birthday, baby, or just a night away from the kiddos, give them the opportunity to gift you something. Whatever it is, they will be happy to show you their appreciation for choosing their property to celebrate your special occasion.
Know something about the property you’re staying at.
Do your best to show up with some knowledge about the amenities and the fees and incidentals that may be included. What perks do they have? Also ask the hotel agent about any insider information, places you should visit, restaurants, or practices that you can employ during your stay. They may have special connections or coupons to make your experience more pleasurable.
Most hotels treat their loyal people like royalty. Try to find your favorite place to stay when you visit certain places and be loyal to them. Learn about their loyalty programs and how you can make redemptions and receive perks for your stay. This is important for adding to your experience. Be sure that you find out if you are a member of their loyalty program. You may earn complimentary nights, vouchers, or extras while you are there. A lot of people have travel credit cards that they may be able to add cash or points to the room or use for hotel breakfast if it is not included.
Do not be afraid to ask for extras! The last hotel I stayed in was a four-star and they had slippers, robes, extra conditioner, iPhone cords, extra pillows and additional coffee that were complimentary. Just ask! Most of the time, the hotel has basic sundry items; they just don’t advertise it.
Know The hotel lingo.
You may want to request an upgrade, room change, or put in a complaint…know the hotel language so that you get what you are asking for. When you use hotel verbiage (i.e. occupancy, loyalty, satisfaction or guest) you let them know your status as a frequent traveler and that you know your rights. Just remember that it is all about who you talk to and how you talk to them. If you are not happy with the outcome of what you ask for or a complaint, make a suggestion yourself of a fair solution. Try to resolve all requests through the person you are talking to but take any complaints straight to management.
Book direct to save money.
Most people use travel portals like Hotel.com or Expedia to book their stays. You can usually get the same prices, if not less and receive your hotel loyalty perks and other rewards. You may also be able to negotiate a better price. Often the local manager may be happy to work with you, especially with big party group rates.
Get to know the staff and tip well.
Being kind does truly go a long way. Still talking about our last stay in Miami, we tipped well and word got out. Whenever we strolled around in the hotel or came in and out, we always had someone wanting to cater to us and calling us by name, even in the restaurant. Whenever possible, call them by name. We all like it when they remember our names. Also, ask the staff about their opinion on local insights. Doing these little things really does make your stay a lot more enjoyable in my opinion.
I am sure that there are plenty more tips and tricks but this is from my experience with my last stay in Miami.