Nowadays, it's fairly easy to be savvy when booking a hotel room. Thanks to a host of websites and digital tools, you can shop among various options to score the best rate, scour reviews to get the inside scoop on the service and even compare the online pictures to actual photographs of the room and property to see if they match up. But there are still several secrets that that even the savviest travelers don't know about.
Jacob Tomsky is an author and hotel industry expert who recently shared his insider tips with #OWNSHOW, beginning with some advice to remember when using a discount website to book your room.
While Tomsky does use discount sites himself, he tells #OWNSHOW that reservations made through such sites aren't held in the same regard as those that come directly through the hotel. To help shift that perspective, he suggests calling the hotel after you've booked through a discount site, perhaps two or three days before your stay.
"Call the hotel proper. Speak to a human being. Find out if your request came through. That's a great way to take a discount reservation and get it back up to the level of a natural reservation," Tomsky says.
If your travel plans shift or fall though and you find yourself in need of canceling your reservation at the last minute, Tomsky says you can use a little-known loophole to avoid incurring standard cancellation fees.
"You call the hotel proper, speak to a front desk agent and say... 'I'd like to push my reservation to next week,'" he says. "You do that, hang up the phone, call back the next day, talk to somebody different and say, 'Hey, I have a reservation for next week. I'd like to cancel it.' And now you're within your cancellation rights."
One of Tomsky's other big tips is to harness the power of the front desk agent.
"They're actually making a lot more decisions than you think... The front desk agent knows the best rooms," he points out. "So, being friendly, being patient, oftentimes a little gratuity to the front desk agent can also be helpful."
How much gratuity? Tomsky says it depends what you're comfortable with. "A $10 bill, $20 bill wrapped around your credit card... I guarantee you, the front desk agent is going to work very hard for you, to get you a wonderful room," he says.
More tips from Jacob Tomsky:
2 types of hotels rooms you should always avoid
The right way to make a complaint during your hotel stay