How to Book a Hotel Online scenic traveler

In the Internet age, most travelers make the bulk of their reservations in front of their home computer. This is particularly true of hotel accommodations, where photos and listings of amenities can make the comparison process that much easier. However, booking a hotel online can be more complicated than one might think – particularly if your primary goal is to get the best possible room at the best price. To help you with your online booking, we have a few tips to consider.

Start Early

To ensure the best selection of rooms available, begin your online hotel search as early as possible. While some travel experts recommend waiting until the last minute to book to get the best prices, this could also mean “no room at the inn” if you aren’t careful. When you begin your search early, you will have a wider range of rooms to choose from, which may also mean you have more bargaining power if you are comparing the rates of three or four comparable hotels in the area.

Do Your Homework

Take the time to really research the hotels you are interested in before you book a room. While the pictures and descriptions on the hotel website may look enticing, keep in mind that this is merely marketing material for the company. Of course they will put their best foot forward! Instead, focus on professional rating systems or traveler reviews that will offer a more objective opinion of the accommodations. You can also talk to individuals who have stayed in that hotel to get their honest opinion on the quality of the place.

Use the Comparison Websites

Comparison websites quickly compare room rates for a variety of hotels around your destination as well as different rooms within a single establishment. Keep in mind that bidding sites will not give you a choice of hotels or rooms; in fact, you may not even know where you are staying until after your credit card is charged! While this might be an effective way to save money, it won’t help you much if you have specific requests involving your location, room or amenities.

Talk to the Hotel Directly

Once you have found a hotel, call the establishment directly to confirm the listing and the description on the hotel’s website. If you find a lower price on a comparison website than the hotel site is offering, ask if the reservation service can provide a similar rate to you. In addition to getting information directly from the hotel, you can also gauge the quality of the service provided by the front desk before you put any money down on a room.

Make Specific Requests at Reservation Time

If you want a specific location within the hotel or you have special needs to address, the best time to make those requests is when you initially book your room – when you have the most negotiating power. It is also a good idea to call the hotel directly right before your request to reconfirm that your request will be honored.

Consider Becoming a Member

Loyalty plans or privilege clubs offer the opportunity to rack up savings if you use the same hotel chain often. Some will even offer some sort of perk or discount just for signing up for the program. Most of the time, loyalty programs do not cost anything to join and the benefits you receive could make it well worth your time.

Get Direct Contact Information

When you book your hotel online, make sure you get direct contact information for the hotel where you will be staying, including an address and local phone number. This way, you can call the hotel directly right before your visit to confirm your room and any special requests you might have made at the time of your booking. You also have the necessary information if you run late for your check-in or need directions to the hotel once you arrive at your destination.

Ask about the Cancellation Policy

When you book your hotel room, find out what the cancellation policy is. Reservations purchased through some comparison websites are non-transferable or refundable. Some hotels also run the charge for the room through your credit card at the time of your booking, instead of waiting until you check in. If you have to cancel your reservation, you may have a more difficult time getting your refund.

Booking hotel rooms online is a quick, convenient way to plan your next vacation. With these tips in mind, you can rest assured your online booking process will go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

8 Tips for Choosing the Best Hotel for Your Family scenic traveler

When you are traveling with kids, finding the right hotel can make all the difference between a family vacation that is relaxing and enjoyable for everyone – and one that is challenging at best. Ideal family hotels have space, amenities and activities for all ages, so that everyone in your clan enjoys their travels to their fullest. To ensure your vacation plans go off without a hitch, we have 10 features to look for when choosing a hotel for your family.

Location

Sometimes the best hotel choice is the one that is closest to the chicken nuggets and movie theatre. When you are searching for a hotel, look at a map of the area to find out what other amenities might be close by. If your hotel is in the midst of fast food joints, kid-friendly activities and a grocery store stocked with emergency supplies, you are probably good to go. Plus, you may meet a number of other families in your hotel who selected their spot for the same reasons you did!

Room Size

A little extra space goes a long way when traveling with kids. A suite is often the best choice for families, so that parents get a separate sleeping spot from the kids. If your children are older, adjoining rooms that give each person a little extra space and privacy might be just the ticket. In addition to enjoying more sleeping space, you will appreciate the extra room that allows the children to play comfortably when you are in your room for an extended period of time.

Discounts for Younger Travelers

Many family-friendly hotels offer discounts for kids, whether it is a “kids stay free” deal or reduced prices on dining and other amenities. Some hotels also sell tickets for local, kid-friendly attractions at a reduced rate or provide coupons for family dining and activities. When you book your hotel, ask about any specials they might be running for families.

Dining Options

A free continental breakfast can be a great value if you are feeding a family of four or more. Some families also like to have a restaurant on the hotel site, to make it easy to grab a bite before heading out in the morning or after coming in from a busy day of sightseeing. If there isn’t anything available right at the hotel, ask about dining options in the vicinity so you can plan family meal times accordingly.

Room Service

Room service can be a really nice amenity for families that like to turn in early at night or grab a quick bite in the room in the morning. It is also nice to have the option to order a few goodies if you tend to come back to the hotel in the afternoon for naptime. For those families that run themselves ragged at the beach or amusement park during the day, a quiet dinner in the room with a movie might be the perfect end to a busy day.

Swimming Pools

Most kids love to splash, even if swimming is not their forte. A hotel swimming pool can be the perfect place for kids to burn off excess energy or for Mom and Dad to relax after a hectic day. Heated indoor pools allow for swimming fun no matter what the weather looks like outside and can be the perfect solution to whiling away a rainy day on vacation.

Refrigerators

It is a fact; kids love snack time, but this can be an expensive issue when you are on vacation. If you choose a hotel room with a refrigerator, you can keep water bottles, juice boxes and a few assorted munchies on hand for when the munchies bite. It is also the perfect place to store food that was finished at the last restaurant meal, especially if you also have a microwave to warm up leftovers when Junior decides he is ready to eat them.

Babysitting Services

Some family-friendly hotels offer babysitting services so Mom and Dad can sneak away for a little alone time on vacation. These services usually come with a fee, but the individuals hired for the purpose are typically screened so parents can rest assured their precious little ones are in good hands.

Finding a family-friendly hotel is easy, once you know what to look for. The right mix of amenities, activities and comfort features ensure that everyone in your family enjoys the best vacation possible. With these tips in mind, you can search out the hotel at your destination that is sure to please everyone in your clan.

6 Questions to Ask Before Booking a Hotel Room scenic traveler

When you are booking a hotel room to a destination you have never been to before, the process can be somewhat challenging. You have absolutely no point of reference, aside from some online reviews and a few Internet photos, to help you determine whether these accommodations will best meet your needs. To help you find the right hotel for your travels, we have a list of questions to ask when you book your room.

Are there any large events booked for your hotel during my stay?

Conferences, weddings and other major events can create congestion in common areas and make for really long elevator waits. You might also find the hotel to be extraordinarily noisy in the evenings when you are trying to get your rest. It is always worth asking about major events at the time you book your hotel. If you find that there is an event the hotel is hosting, you can ask for a room in a separate wing or look for another quieter hotel for your visit.

Are some of your rooms preferable to others?

While most hotels offer a hierarchy of rooms that extend from small, single rooms to deluxe suites, you might also discover that there are discrepancies within each category as well. For example, certain rooms within a hotel tend to be quieter or offer a better view than others. Perhaps a specific floor of the hotel was recently renovated or provides the easiest access to the fitness center. While these differences may result in a slightly higher room rate, a quiet floor or a view of the pool might very well be worth every penny.

What restaurants or services are nearby?

Many hotels offer stores and restaurants within their boundaries, but these tend to be pricier than your standard fare. This is particularly true of the basic necessities and toiletries typically offered through a hotel gift shop. Find out what eateries and stores might be near to the hotel at the time you book your room. This way you can research those places before your visit to find the best restaurants and services for your needs. By doing so, if you find you need a toothbrush or a bottle of pain medication during your visit, you will already know where to go to get them.

Can I get a discount on my room rate?

You may have spent time on the comparison websites to find the cheapest possible room rate already, but it never hurts to ask the hotel directly whether there are any special discounts going on at the time of your booking. Hotel desk clerks are usually much savvier to the current booking rate in the hotel, and may be more willing to negotiate if room capacity is light. You might also find certain specials on room rates that are not disclosed online through comparison websites or even the hotel chain’s website.

Are there any additional costs for staying at your hotel?

You might think you are getting a bargain on your hotel room – until you total up the cost of parking, Internet and phone calls that are tacked on. Find out precisely what is included in your standard room fare before you book your hotel to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. While one hotel may have a lower room rate, the additional charges assessed might make those accommodations much pricier than the hotel down the street.

Does your hotel offer complimentary breakfast?

This may not seem like a grand savings at the time you book your hotel, but those early morning eats can add up quickly if you indulge in them daily. This is particularly true for traveling families, who can eat their fill from the convenience of the hotel before starting out on their day. In addition to saving money, you will save the time of finding a restaurant nearby and heading there for your morning fare. If the hotel does offer a complimentary breakfast, find out what type of fare is served and the hours the restaurant is open to ensure the offerings will be appropriate for your travel group.

Finding a hotel room in an area you have never been before can be intimidating, but a little research goes a long way. Hotels are usually willing to offer information, but it’s up to you to get the right information out of them. By knowing the right questions to ask before you book your hotel room, you are more likely to get the best accommodations for your needs for a relaxing, enjoyable stay.