10 May The Reality of Online Hotel Reservations
One of the most convenient ways to book a hotel room online is through travel booking sites such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz. Although these websites provide a fairly quick and easy way to make a reservation and there are many sites to choose from, you might experience more of a hassle unless you are mindful of these important consumer tips:
- Make sure you are selecting the correct hotel of your choice. You might find several hotels with the same name within a short distance from each other. Verify the location. If you book a room at a hotel that is not the actual hotel you meant to select, you will still be charged for that night stay through the online company even if you arrive and want to stay somewhere else. The responsibility will fall on you and not the hotel to fix your problem. This can be a huge hassle if you arrive at the wrong hotel and it is not even close to your real destination.
- Know if the website requires pre-payment for your room or if you are simply holding the reservation with a credit card. If it is a pre-payment, there is probably fine print stating that the money paid is non-refundable.
- Know what the cancellation policy is for the booking site. You typically cannot cancel your reservation by calling the hotel directly. You must contact the website where you booked your room. Save yourself and hotel employees a lot of hassle by being informed. Contact the right people if you need to cancel a reservation.
- You will not receive a receipt from the hotel during check-out. Many guests are puzzled and often times upset with hotel employees, when in reality your receipt is obtained from the booking site. The hotel will receive payment from the booking agency – not from you. Please understand that even if you demand a printed receipt from a hotel, they will not give you one. Once again, you must deal with the booking agency of your choice.
- Make sure you enter correct information while making your reservation. I have witnessed many weary travelers miserably fail while trying to convince a hotel they really do have a reservation. Misspelled names can change how a reservation appears in the computer system. If you made a reservation under one name and paid with another, it might be hard to locate as well. No one wants to stand in line behind you and wait until someone figures out what you did.
- Hotels will typically request a credit card for any incidental charges. This is not to double charge you. This is a standard policy. Know what might be included in regards to incidental charges from the hotel. What you paid through the booking agency will only cover your room charge and tax.
- There is no option to change your method of payment at the hotel. They cannot help you with this. If you already paid Expedia, Travelocity or any other booking website, then you already paid for your room. Basically, the financial part of your stay is handled exclusively through your booking agency.
- You cannot change the dates. You can either book additional dates through a separate reservation with a booking agency, or book additional dates through the hotel if you need to extend or change a stay. Be mindful that the hotel is not obligated to honor the same rate as the online rate.
- Hotels appreciate the business they acquire through these websites; however, it is stressful for everyone when they cannot adequately provide answers to your questions. As a consumer it is your responsibility to be informed.
- Be mindful of the important tips I mentioned when you are ready to book your next hotel reservation online. As a professional in the hotel industry, I want you to stay at our hotels, bed & breakfast inns and resorts without having to worry with a lot of hassle. Other professionals in this industry wish the same for you as well. This is your time to relax and enjoy our guest services and facilities. Online travel sites might be very convenient and save you a lot of money, but more responsibility also falls on you as a consumer when you make your own reservation.
It has become most common for hotels to welcome reservations through online websites, and consumers enjoy how easy it is to make a reservation online. As we continue to evolve with technology, it is important for hotels, travel sites and consumers to exchange helpful information and feedback. This will help create a better travel and hotel experience for you as a consumer.
Do you book your hotel reservations online? Please tell us your preference and what issues you have experienced.
Rebekah J. Fishel