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Your past experience at a particular hotel or hotel chain or the recommendations of others may be a very important consideration in choosing a hotel. Keep in mind that the ownership and management of a particular hotel or hotel chain can change over time and therefore past experience or recommendations may no longer be valid. Also, hotels can and without maintenance will deteriorate over time but upgrades, renovations, additions and other improvements can make a hotel more desirable.
If your traveling to attend a convention, seminar, tournament, concert or other special event, then choosing a hotel where the special event is at or very near may be a critical consideration in choosing a particular hotel. Be sure to research the special event thoroughly and find out if blocks of rooms have been set aside often at reduced rates and book your hotel reservations through the event coordinators or directly with hotel if appropriate.
The type and size of a room or suite and the sleeping arrangements you want should usually be considered before booking a discount hotel. Some discount hotels (usually those with the lowest rates) often offer only small rooms with 1 double or 2 twin beds while another discount hotel perhaps next door or nearby may offer large suites with 1 or more separate bedrooms with larger beds for surprising little more money. Be sure to find out what hotel rooms or suites and the number and size of beds are available before booking a particular discount hotel.
Cost is usually the most important single factor people use in selecting a discount hotel. The total cost of a hotel reservation includes the sum of the daily rates plus taxes, fees and any additional charges. Other factors, however, should usually be taken into account when searching for discount hotels. Rates for discount hotels can vary enormously based on where the rates are from, the exact time you the hotel reservation is booked and the exact day or days the hotel reservation is for. Reservations for a discount hotels which include special events in or near the discount hotel or which include holidays during the hotel stay can be far more expensive. Although discount hotels are easy to find, when shopping for discount hotels be sure to visit several competitive web sites if booking a discount hotel on the internet or check with more than one travel agents since they may get their rates for discount hotels from different sources. Even if your past experience has taught you that a particular hotel reservation system or source is best, it usually pays to shop around. As with all forms of shopping: Buyer Beware!
You should find out what a hotel policies and extra charges are before booking a hotel reservation. Is there a charge for having more than 1 or more persons in a room? What is the cancellation policy? Some hotels charge extra for 2, 3 or more individuals in a room. Some discount hotels allow children below a certain age to stay in their parents. Are they extra charges for things like cots, extra linen or towels? Some discount hotels allow cancellations without charges up to 6 PM the day of arrival while others charge for 1 night stay if you cancel a hotel reservation within 7 days of arrival. Knowing a hotel's policies and extra charges can help in the hotel selection process and avoid unpleasant surprises. Sometimes hotel deals aren't quite as great as they initially seem and some discount hotels aren't as discounted as you might.
The cost of hotel reservations can be a major or even the majority of your travel budget. Unless money is not a concern, when planning a vacation or trip, first determine your overall travel budget. Then determine how to and the cost to get to your travel destination and possibly rent a car. Then decide how much your going to spend on food and extras like sun screen, activities and shows. After subtracting transportation, food and extras from the overall travel budget, your left with your hotel budget. At this point finding the right discount hotel at the right price may well be critical. If a hotel which meets your needs isn't available within your budget, your left with several alternatives including raising the amount your willing to spend, finding a different lower cost time period to travel, determining whether flying or driving is more cost effective or practical, finding an alternative travel destination or changing the amount of time you stay. Having a shorter trip in a good hotel in a desirable location might well be preferable to staying in a undesirable hotel or paying to much. Forethought, flexibility and time spent researching travel reservations can often eliminate budgetary concerns.
Hotel ratings can be very useful in choosing a discount hotel. Because ratings are somewhat subject and reflect some person's or group's opinion at some time in the past, hotel ratings are not absolute and should be used only as a general guide. Whether a hotel has a pool and/ or health club, is close to shopping, restaurants or an event, etc. may be more or less important to you then to the person or group that issued the rating. Be sure to investigate all aspects of a hotel before booking a discount hotel reservation. Remember that rating systems can vary greatly. Some use 4 or 5 diamonds, stars or other designation for the top rating. Read and understand the rating system before trying to make a decision.
The services available at a particular hotel may be a very important in choosing a discount hotel. If room service and/or a Concierge and/or other services like a free shuttle is important to you, it is important that you determine that a discount hotel meets all your needs before booking a hotel reservation with that hotel.
Look at the whole package when comparing rates. A more expensive hotel that includes many services in their rate can reduce your vacation budget in other areas. Depending on your plans, a more expensive hotel might actually provide a less expensive vacation.
Find out if any meals included with your stay?
Find out if there are any special deals for children?
Find out if there are any special deals for seniors?
Find out if the hotel provide free in room coffee, morning newspapers or complimentary evening cocktails?
Find out if the hotel have excellent pool, fitness or tennis facilities that could provide a cheap day of entertainment by just hanging around the Hotel?
Find out if the hotel have a golf, tennis or spa package that will save you over booking these items separately?
Is the location of the hotel particularly good or does the hotel have a shuttle service that could save you lots of cab fare or even eliminate the need for a rental car and possibly save you parking fees and gas?
Find out if the hotel has laundry services or the ability to loan out irons, ironing boards, hair dryers or voltage converters if needed to help lessen your luggage needs?
Find out if the hotel has other amenities available such as in room coffee makers, refrigerators or even kitchenettes that could save you money in your food budget?
You should consider the amenities and/or special features a discount hotel has before selecting it. Some discount hotels don't have a TV, air conditioning or ice machine while others have offer free premium cable channels, refrigerators, microwaves, indoor and /or outdoor pool(s), health club(s), restaurant(s), children's activities and more. Sam's Town in Las Vegas has a bowling alley and Mandalay Bay also in Las Vegas has a large Wave Pool with large enough waves to surf. Amenities and special features may not make a difference if price is the only real consideration or if you only need a room for 1 night. Amenities and special features may, however, be very important depending on personal preferences. Cheap hotels aren't always the best choice. Be sure to find out what amenities and/or special features a discount hotel has before booking it.
Sometimes location is as or an even more important factor than price when selecting a discount hotel. Choosing a particular hotel because you are attending a conference, convention or other event that takes place at or very near that hotel or booking a hotel in the French Quarter, for example, if you were planning to visit New Orleans during Madri Gras and you want to be in the middle of the action often makes the difference between a great and poor vacation or trip.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|