Hotels 101.

We’re your home away from home. Understanding how hotels work can make your vacation or business trip go so much smoother. There are so many articles floating around about “things hotels don’t want you to know”, but I’m going to share some things that I do want you to know.

Book Direct

Everyone and their mother will tell you to book on Expedia or some other third-party site. I’m here to tell you that this is terrible advice. Booking third-party often makes you last priority. Now, I would never treat any guest any worse or better than the next, but this is just how some hotels are. You might think you’re getting a great rate with Expedia or any other site, but you’re not. Hotels have to pay commission to OTAs (online travel agents), so the hotel is not receiving everything you pay. Because of this, some hotels might treat your reservation as less of a priority.

Say you booked a room with two beds, but something happened and the hotel oversold that room type. Guess whose reservation is first to get switched? Yours. So now you get to the hotel with your family of four, and it turns out you were moved to a single room. Better get cozy with the kids! Since the hotel is not profiting as much off of your reservation as they would from someone who booked direct, your booking is deemed “acceptable” to adjust if need be. You’ll also be the first to be walked if a hotel is overall oversold. Another thing to note is that if you wish to cancel or change dates on your OTA reservation, you can’t call the hotel to make these changes. We are technically not allowed to touch dates and rates on third-party bookings, so you’ll have to call the 1-800 number and wait to reach a representative. If you have an billing discrepancies or any other issues, we can’t help you.

You also will not be earning hotel loyalty points. These points can add up very quickly, so it’s silly to not take advantage of the membership programs. My particular hotel’s program give you 10 points per USD spent, and free nights start at just 6,000 points. Most hotels now allow you to route points to a frequent flier account. I have my Marriott account set to send all my points to my Delta Skymiles accounts.

The best way to make sure your reservation is always guaranteed exactly how you want it is to book direct. And don’t mess with the central reservation department. Call the hotel you wish to stay at and talk with the actual front desk. We have more power than you think to get you a good rate. We’d rather cut you a deal than lose the entire sale. You matter to us, and we want to make sure you have a great experience with us – all you have to do is let us!

Requests Cannot be Guaranteed

I know you want to have adjoining rooms with your sister’s family. We want to do our best to honor your wishes, but sometimes it just can’t happen that way. Please understand that a request is exactly that – just a request.

The front desk has control over most of your stay. If you wish to have two room reservations close to each other or on the same floor, you have to let us know. 99% of the time, we can make that happen, but we can’t promise anything. Room location requests depend entirely on how the hotel filled up the night before, room type booked, and availability. Look, we want you to be happy and enjoy your stay, but we can’t grant every wish.

Early check-ins and late check-outs. Sigh. Early check-ins are harder to allow than late check-outs. Take my hotel for example. Our check-out time is noon, and guaranteed check-in starts at 3:00 pm. You can’t come to the desk at 10:00 am on a Saturday in July and expect to be checked in. It won’t happen. It all depends on the same things I mentioned before…how the hotel filled up, which room type you booked, and availability. We always, always, always do our best to honor special requests, and again, we are not miracle workers (though, when we make the impossible happen, that’s exactly how we feel), but we do care about you and we do our absolute best.

Incidental Deposits

I’m not sure which type of hotel doesn’t have an incidental hold in 2019. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard from guests, “I’ve never stayed anywhere that required an incidental deposit”. What kinds of hotels are you staying in????? Everywhere I have ever been has had some sort of hold.

Why do we do this? Well, because we don’t trust you. Just kidding, kind of. If you destroy the room or steal a pillow, we need to protect ourselves and be sure you have the funds in case we need to charge you. These holds also exist to allow you to charge things to your room. If it’s 2:00 am and you’re craving a Klondike bar, you can just get one from our marketplace, say, “Charge this to 201, Mr. Smith”, and be on your merry way. We know you have the funds, so we are comfortable adding that charge to your account.

This policy is mainly to protect ourselves, and it ensures that we are only renting to reputable guests, which in turn keeps you safe and comfortable. You also need to understand that holds don’t just drop immediately. When I check you out of my system, we release the incidental hold on our end. Once you leave the hotel, it’s up to your bank to return that money to your account. It can take 3-10 business days, depending on when you stay. We encourage guests to put the hold on credit cards rather than debit cards, just so your money isn’t tied up.

Housekeepers Aren’t Paid Enough 

Have you ever seen a hotel room the morning after a bachelor party spends the night? No? Consider yourself lucky. Housekeepers do not get paid enough to put up with half the things they see. They are hardworking individuals doing back-breaking work (almost literally), so please, be respectful, and TIP YOUR HOUSEKEEPER.

We Want to Help You

Seriously. We want you to enjoy your stay. We want you to enjoy our city and leave with a great memories. If there is an issue with your room or reservation, speak up. Tell the front desk. Let us fix the problem before it blows up unnecessarily and has the potential to ruin your trip. You just checked in to your room and the PTAC doesn’t work? Say something. The room next door is noisy? Say something. You were double charged? SAY SOMETHING. Help us help you. We want to. We’re here for you. We’re nice people! Hospitality is the “friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”. Our only job is to make you happy. Let us.




I adore this industry. I love meeting so many different people from different places. I love being a part of someone’s vacation stories and having a positive impact on someone’s experience in my city. I love making people happy. Most hotels hire the right people. We truly want you to be happy and have a great time. Be mindful of the topics I discussed, and you should be able to have positive experiences at each hotel you visit.

Happy travels.



Author: Heaven

24. Seattle-ish. Hotelier.

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