A noisy or faulty HVAC system, loud neighbors, tiny beds, a smelly room - so many things can ruin a hotel stay. This is your vacation and if you’re like me, you can’t afford to get it wrong! We’ve looked into the most common issues hotel guests have experienced and compiled a list of their most frequent complaints. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid falling headfirst into these hotel room pitfalls.
We looked at several sources to get a general sense and these are the findings:
While I believe it is the hotel’s responsibility to provide EVERYTHING they advertise, YOU are in the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting the right hotel. Remember, especially those who are traveling someplace completely new, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The ever-important due diligence must be done! Do your homework, people! Where better to begin doing just that, than right here...
Broaden Your Search and Select Three Potential Properties
First, be prepared to call an audible. Instead of narrowing your search down to one property, narrow it down to three properties. As pilots prepare to land at any airport, they always have a backup airport and know exactly how to get there in case they need to switch. Take a tip from the captain and familiarize yourself with the lodging landscape of the place you are potentially visiting. If you have an awful hotel experience and to change properties, you should know what else is around with availability in your price point.
Next, research the heck out of each property to learn what others have said about their experience. Always check reviews before you book. You can even search the particular type of room you were thinking about booking. Many people will list the exact room number and room type when they leave reviews. If there are systemic issues with a property, it will most likely be prevalent in reviews from past guests within the last six months. Again... due diligence, people!
Here are some great websites where you can explore customer-generated reviews:
REMEMBER: When in doubt, call the property directly and ask before you book!!
Once you select your hotel, sign up for their loyalty reward program. Don’t worry if it’s your first (and possibly only) stay, do it anyway. If possible, book directly with the hotel brand itself. By doing so you’re “playing nicely in the hotel’s sandbox” and they like that - who wouldn't?! You’re also accruing points that could lead to future upgrades and deals. In general, it’s always wise to book directly with the property and not through a third-party agency.
Know The Property
Every hotel, motel, and resort property is laid out differently. In addition to room type, many hotels allow you to request a specific room if you had one in mind. When choosing your room you should consider staying as far from other guests and potential noise as possible. Sure, you may have to walk further, but staying away from loud elevator banks makes those extra steps worth it. Remember to consider what is under or above your room as well. (If you’ve ever stayed on a floor above a hotel bar you’ll understand.) If it’s not clear online what the best room is, then call the property directly and ask. Tell them your needs and ask them for guidance on room selection.
Book and Pay with A Credit Card (Not a Debit Card)
This is a tip I give for ALL your travels. A credit card comes with traveler benefits. Know what they are and use credit cards (preferably one card) while traveling, then pay it off immediately upon your return. For those traveling abroad, this is a great way to get the best conversion rate, as well. Never finance a vacation using credit. You want to enjoy your fun in the sun, not stress over it! Going on a trip is no fun if you’re going home to a stack of bills.
You Get What You Pay For
The old adage is true. If you book the Red Roof Inn because it’s within your budget, don’t expect the Ritz Carlton when you arrive. Manage your own expectations about the hotel before you arrive. There’s nothing wrong with a budget motel, but remember, that’s exactly what it is. And remember, you will be staying at said motel with other guests. I’ll leave it at that.
Your Attitude / Wardrobe
You’ve done your homework, booked your stay and traveled to your dream vacation destination. In most instances, I live by the mantra of “kill ‘em with kindness”. Throughout your stay, the hotel staff, fellow guests or even your travel mates may not be in the best of moods. YOU on the other hand, need to try and keep your cool, no matter what. If the front desk attendant isn’t very friendly, make a joke about your travel day, the weather, the New York Jets, ANYTHING to break up the monotony of their day. While it’s technically their job to do these things for guests, it’s always appreciated when a guest is especially kind and engaging with hotel staff. Many hotel employees don't even receive a “thank you” for their hard work, let alone a tip. Ask them how they’re doing that day. All you want them to remember is “wow, that was a nice person”. You're more likely to get better service, and occasionally a better room or upgrades. To that end, if you followed my earlier suggestion of dressing “resort casual” or “business casual” when you travel, then you’re already ahead of the game because YOU won’t look like a slob when communicating with hotel personnel face-to-face.
If you booked a larger, more expensive property then remember, concierge, doormen, and bell attendants are your ally. They will know the property and neighborhood inside and out. Feel free to ask them questions. I always introduce myself and interact with them each day, when possible. They’re sure to remember my name and go above and beyond for me. Keep in mind, they’re looking out for you, so if they are helpful tip them a few dollars. If you’re friendly with the staff they’re more likely to rush to your aid when it’s impossible to find a taxi or your heater goes out in the middle of the night.
Almost all of the issues that may come up can be solved with clear communication with a representative from the property. For instance, if getting the temperature “just right” is important to you - as it certainly is to me - then it’s vital to do your homework and make sure the property you’re staying at has what it takes to help you keep your cool on your next trip.
While shooting an episode of “Beyond Your Backyard” in the Azores, Portugal, I spoke with the Assistant General Manager at the Grand Hotel Azores Atlantico. She detailed how she and her staff prepare guest rooms according to the general likes and dislikes of their guests. This would often change depending on where in the world the guests came from. She noted that Americans usually enjoy arriving to a crisp, cool hotel room. I am definitely one of those Americans! This is a common issue in warmer climates. Like most people, humidity tends to make me a little uncomfortable. But my hotel rooms are always kept at a cool 68 degrees. I love it. Older, more “historic” properties are prone to HVAC issues, but it’s rarely a problem with newer properties. For those traveling abroad, many smaller hotels (in Europe, in particular) are far more primitive when it comes to HVAC, and in some cases, electricity in general. Be sure to do your due diligence when booking abroad.
Hotels come in all sizes and styles, and each individual property will have their own obstacles and issues. Doing your homework, knowing who to ask to get things done and a little bit of patience goes a long way. If problems arise during your stay, say something! Even the greatest hotel staff can’t read your mind. We live in an era of camera phones, use yours! Take pictures of that messy bathroom or dead cockroach and show it to the front desk. If something in your room is broken, dirty, or anything, simply point it out to the hotel and allow them to fix the problem. Just remember, all it takes is some research and open communication to make sure you limit your hotel complaints on your next vacation.
About The Author
Erik Hastings, a.k.a. Erik the Travel Guy is an EMMY award-winning television personality who speaks directly to consumers who can't afford to "get their vacations wrong". He is the host and managing editor of the internationally syndicated television series "Beyond Your Backyard" for public broadcasting stations (PBS) and other networks/VOD platforms. Erik leads an incredibly talented team of industry pros and is the editorial driving force of his platform. While the travel industry directly supports millions of families worldwide, Erik believes travel makes the world a better place. Through exploration and discovery, he has learned that travel brings cultures together and he eagerly shares that spirit with his viewers.
Read Erik's Full Bio
TV Series: Beyond Your Backyard
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!