Booking a hotel is a little like buying a television. If you don’t do your homework beforehand, you will likely feel dissatisfied later on. If you are booking a hotel in the U.S. for the first time, there are some big blunders you might be making when it comes to hotel reservations. From booking on the wrong site to forgetting to check some vital information, these mistakes could easily cause a lot of unnecessary hassle.
Browse relevant websites
Most of the hotel bookings these days are done by commercial websites such as expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Orbitz.com, and Hotels.com. While doing your research, make sure to search for the best deals, and don’t forget to visit the hotel website itself. Individual hotel websites often have deals that don’t appear on these merchant websites. So make sure to check those too, before you book.
If you are booking a hotel through a commercial website, make sure that you research their cancellation policies before you book. While most have stopped charging steep cancellation fees, you need to make sure that you book on the site and cancel without a fee for the reservation that you have booked.
Read the reviews
Consumer websites like Tripadvisor.com, Booking.com, and many others gather public reviews from various customers. TripAdvisor is a good resource as it organizes its reviews by the type of stays (for example, couples, business trips, young travelers, etc). This will help you search for similar people and see what they have to say about the hotel.
Look up the location
If you have a specific location in mind, put the address in Google Maps. This way, you can zoom in to see the neighborhood to see exactly what your hotel and the surrounding area look like.
Once you have zoomed in on the hotel you want to stay in, be sure to call them and ask them about your needs and concerns. For example, if you need to make multiple calls, ask if they have a free local calling or how much they charge for long-distance calls. If you want a big pool or want to check if they have lifeguard duty, you can call them and get all your queries answered.
Before you book your room, make sure to find out:
- The amount of deposit
- Last date of cancellation before you have to pay a penalty
- Any discounts provided by the hotel
- Check-in and check-out time
- Any extra fees if you might have to pay
Book your room with a Credit Card
Usually, a Credit Card provides you a far more secure cover compared to a debit card in the event of fraud. If there is a fraudulent transaction, you'll only be on the hook for $50 and the credit card will fight the wrongdoer on your behalf and cover expenses incurred on the card over $50.
When it comes to prices, compare as much as you can. Use websites equipped with metasearch functionality and compare the rates on the property's website to the rates you find on Priceline, on Expedia, on Groupon Getaways, or in travel brochures.