A recent Associated Press story took inventory of a growing array of fees that some hotels are adding to their guests’ bills. Taking a page from the airline industry, it appears on the surface that hotels are seeking innovative ways to charge for items that were previously free.
So what is a consumer to do? Except for vacations where you’re staying with family or friends, most of us stay in hotels of varying amenities.
Fortunately, over the past few years, the U.S. hotel industry has been booming. According to CNBC, “many in the industry say they expect the good times to keep rolling for a few more years until supply catches up with demand.” That, in turn, means that there are more properties at every price point. More competition is good for consumers.
But even better news is that there are a number of ways to avoid paying fees at hotels.
Perhaps the most important one is not to make your hotel reservation directly through the hotel. You’ll only have access to what that specific hotel is offering, meaning that you’ll have no comparative information on which to base your decision.
Second, don’t fall for the hotels’ own “best rate guarantees.” The hotel rate you may be shown directly by the property may not be indicative of all the extras you might ultimately end up paying for. Plus, if you’re browsing online, thanks to the growing use of “cookies,” the rate you initially saw may no longer be available the next time.
Third, if you’re going to visit online booking sites, use them for comparison purposes only. The best use of such sites is to see what other travelers have experienced with the property you’re considering. But just like booking through a hotel directly, booking through online sites rarely provides you with access, if any, to value-added amenities, such as complimentary breakfasts or free Wi-Fi.
The best way to get the best rate at a hotel plus added benefits is to book through a travel agency. Today’s top travel agents not only have access to competitive rates at most hotels worldwide, but because of their buying power, they also have access to plenty of perks that are provided to guests.
For example, in addition to the free breakfasts and Wi-Fi mentioned above, travel agents who have access to the Travel Leaders Group Worldwide Hotel Program can offer their clients complimentary parking, room upgrades and the last available room at over 34,000 hotels globally – even if it is not showing as available on a hotel’s website.
If you’re looking to splurge on your hotel, you should ask your travel agent if they have access to a luxury hotel program like Select Hotels & Resorts, which can provide similar amenities as outlined above, but also provides room upgrades at check-in (based on availability), early check-ins and late check-outs (also based on availability) and special VIP amenities. That way, when you’re comparing notes with your fellow guests, you’ll have peace-of-mind that you booked your accommodations like a pro.
For more information on value-added amenities for all your hotel stays, contact your travel agent.
Travel Leaders in St. Louis, MO has access to the Travel Leaders Group Worldwide Hotel Program mentioned in the article. Located in Chesterfield, MO, Travel Leaders agents can uncover the best prices and amenities available to you. Proudly serving Chesterfield, Wildwood, Ellisville, Ballwin, Manchester, Town & Country, Eureka and the entire metropolitan St. Louis area. Call 636.778.1081 or visit us at www.TravelLeaders.com/StLouisMO