Let’s say your destination is Palm Springs, California. With over 72 favorite small hotels in Palm Springs, less than 50 rooms in Palm Springs, and eight other cities to consider in the Coachella Valley, choosing your accommodations can become overwhelming. Perhaps your first thought is to check out the third-party booking sites prevalent online today.
After researching online and finding the hotel that best fits your ideal vacation plans, how about taking it one step further? Pick up the phone and call the hotel directly.
Researching the benefits of booking directly with hotels reveals some facts you may not have considered when you started planning your dream vacation and opted to use only third-party sites. Let me share what I discovered and why booking direct with a hotel makes more sense.
1. Liability in the event of a problem
The news is filled with stories of how airline passengers wait hours to find someone who will help them and straighten out missed flight schedules, compensation for canceled flights, and more. The same can happen if you booked your hotel through a third party. It may be corny, but seriously, where does the responsibility end?
Since you have booked the hotel with the receptionist, imagine how much easier it will be to make a phone call and immediately start fixing the problem right now. Metaphorically, the responsibility stops at the hotel.
2. Room choices are plentiful
Few people understand that most of the time, hotels give blocks of less desirable rooms to third-party providers that they probably wouldn’t want to book anyway. You have no choice but the size of the beds or if you want a suite. Choices like first floor, away from the elevator, or a view other than the hotel trash cans are not available options.
Call the hotel directly and you may find that they may have different hotel room configurations. Moreover, you can decide if you want to be near the pool or away from it in order to have quieter days and evenings.
3. Flexibility if your plans change
Let’s use this scenario. You were looking forward to a trip with your teenage girls and planned the trip months ago. One of them announced that she would rather stay home and attend the Alicia Keyes concert scheduled in your city. You deliberately booked two rooms so that they could have their privacy.
A call to the hotel reveals that they have a suite that might be just right for three people. A quick check with the family and your accommodation is adjusted. Keep in mind that third-party vendor sites cannot match your hotel room size once you’ve made your reservation.
4. Prices can vary greatly
Naturally, the prices on third-party vendor websites look very attractive since the hotel’s website shows higher rates. However, what if you could get the hotel price offered by the seller or even cheaper by calling the hotel directly?
A long time ago, my father taught me, “It doesn’t hurt to ask. One suggestion, before hitting the book button, call the hotel directly and explain the situation to them. The rate on a third provider site is lower, but you’d rather book with them now.
Robert Hunt, general manager of the Alcazar Hotel Palm Springs, told me, “We would prefer to pass the 18% third-party vendor costs on to our guests. When you call them, they can not only adjust the cost, but also discuss with you the perfect room for your needs.
5. Proximity to the city center
I once made an online reservation for a hotel room in Oceanside, California. It’s one of my favorite beaches. So this trip, I was going alone. I had a car to drive to the beach whenever the mood took me.
The day had come for me to make the two-hour drive from Palm Springs, with thoughts of ocean walks along the shore and the moon glistening on the waves. There was only one problem. My place was seven miles from the ocean. I had no idea Oceanside City was that big. The hotel address was correct, but seriously, a long winding country road at night was not what I expected. If I had booked direct I could have asked how far it was from the ocean.
6. Packages and offers are available
When talking to the office manager working with you to make your reservation, ask if there are any packages they would recommend for your stay. For example, in Palm Springs, a must-visit for first-time visitors to the Coachella Valley is the Palm Springs Ariel Tram, up the side of the mountain to the 10,000-foot level. Hotels may have discounts for this and even some for good local restaurants.
Most people don’t know that you can visit the windmills that dot the bottom of our valley. The hotel will more than likely have a contact for you and possibly access to discount coupons. The goal is to ask them what they would recommend seeing and if they have any packages or discounts on our many attractions.
What do you have to lose by taking that extra step of picking up the phone to call the hotel directly? From my research and interviews with GMs, it has become clear that there is no downside.
The scenarios presented above are not just for small hotels in Palm Springs. Larger hotels are just as likely to work with you to find an appropriate selection for your vacation plans. As one manager told me, “We’re in the hospitality business, not the reservations business.”
I hope I’ve helped you understand why picking up the phone and booking directly with a hotel can bring you so many benefits. How about trying it for your hotel stay?
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