If crowded airports and highways are anything to go by, it’s clear that Americans aren’t too afraid to travel. In fact, domestic travel increased by nearly 2% in 2017, with 2.25 billion personal trips being taken that year. And while platforms like Airbnb have often allowed travelers to stay in desirable vacation spots for lower rates and more personal accommodations than large hotel chains can provide, there are still plenty of those who tend to book with a trusted name rather than stay at the home of a complete stranger.
But making a reservation at a hotel won’t always save you from a disastrous experience. If you aren’t careful about where you book, especially when doing so online, you could easily be scammed or end up arriving at a hotel of horrors. Here are some red flags you’ll want to pay attention to — and run away from — when deciding where to stay.
In the digital age, most guests are going to book their stays online. But even when guests had only a travel brochure to reference, this rule was still an important one. If the hotel offers too few photos or the photos they do provide are blurry or have obviously been Photoshopped, you should take that as a sign that the hotel has something to hide. Say you’re staying at a hotel that boasts views of one of Alaska’s 70 potentially active volcanoes. If you can tell the pictures have been altered, proceed elsewhere. Make sure that you have a clear view of the entire room, rather than only close-ups of unimportant objects. Definitely keep looking if the only photos you see are of the building’s exterior. A good hotel should exhibit pride in its rooms and common areas. When they don’t want to show them off, there’s probably a very valid reason why.
Lack of Customer Service
It’s a good idea to test out a hotel’s customer service prior to booking your reservation. That might mean using the chat function on their website, filling out a contact form, or calling the main reservation desk to see how customer requests are handled. If it’s easy to get in touch with a real person and your experience is nothing but pleasant, that’s an excellent sign that this trend will only continue when you arrive for your stay. But if it’s impossible to reach anyone with a question or you’re treated poorly, keep looking. You might also consider taking a look at how the hotel responds to complaints, inquiries, and comments on social media accounts to learn more about how the company generally handles these situations.
In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to find out about the experiences of others. Instead of relying solely on word of mouth from friends and relatives, you can conduct a simple Google search to find out what other guests are saying. Be sure to check out sites like Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other travel pages and forums to discover the truth about a given hotel. You can also check the hotel’s own site for testimonials, but be aware that these could be skewed in favor of the company rather than being an honest reflection of customer experience. Keep in mind that even five-star hotels get a negative review from time to time; if you can’t find a single complaint, that might actually not be good news. Pay attention to how old these reviews are, as well. If no one has said anything (positive or negative) in quite some time, that should set off alarm bells.
Shockingly Low Prices
It’s understandable that you want to stick to a budget, even when you’re on vacation. But don’t let your quest to find a great deal cloud your judgment. If a price seems way too good to be true, it probably is. It could indicate that a hotel has seen better days or that you might end up being charged an astronomical tax fee late in the game. It’s also possible that the hotel may be undergoing construction or there’s a new development near by that could be prompting the hotel to significantly lower its rates. There are a lot of ways to score an awesome discount on hotels, but if there’s a huge difference between one hotel and others in the area, there’s probably a hidden reason for it.
Most of the time, following these tips will allow you to avoid a poor choice and to book at a hotel that ticks all of your boxes. Since 59% of travelers say they’d choose one hotel over another based on the availability of allergen-friendly rooms, doing careful research will help you find a hotel that provides all the amenities you need. But it’s still possible that you could end up arriving at a hotel that doesn’t meet your expectations. Take a good look around when you come into the lobby. If you notice excessive dust, the rugs need a good cleaning, or the facility’s signage seems to be unprofessional, this could indicate that maintenance is being ignored throughout the property. Being vigilant before you even check in could save you from having nightmares about this vacation for years to come.
In most cases, your hotel will provide a fantastic experience for your family with no real problems. But failing to be smart about the booking process could cause you some anguish later on. As long as you keep a sharp eye out for these signs, you’ll be able to choose a hotel that’s perfectly suited for your needs and that meets all your expectations.
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