Say goodbye to unnecessary troubles on holiday because of booking mistakes! All avid travelers must avoid these 10 common mistakes when booking hotels online.
If you dedicate your budget for travelling, hotel booking should be one of the priorities. Smart travellers know the trick to get the best deals for hotel rooms. According to the 2017 reports by Statista, electronic travel will experience a 9.3% annual growth rate until 2022. It shows that online booking has become a common trend around the world.
Unfortunately, many people still think that booking the cheapest hotel is enough. Cannot, lah! Booking the wrong hotel will waste your money and ruin your holiday. For example, you may get trapped in an inconvenient location, away from the airport. You can also get surprised by additional bills, which ruin the entire holiday budget.
You don’t need to be a hotel expert to get the best booking experience. Even the least experienced travellers should avoid common mistakes when booking hotels online. Here are 10 booking mistakes that will ruin your holiday.
1. Not Booking A Specific Room
Imagine travelling with the entire family, which includes one kid. You come to the hotel expecting a nice, comfortable room for everyone. When you enter the room, you realize that the room is too small to fit an additional guest. Turns out that there are options for larger rooms that fit three people, complete with a sofa bed, but you missed them! Alamak!
Hotels offer standard room types such as Superior, Deluxe, Suite, and many more. However, some hotels may provide more specific room amenities with just slightly more expensive rates than the standard ones. For example, a regular Deluxe room offers a queen-sized bed for two, but a "Deluxe Family" room may include a sofa bed or even an additional small bed.
Don’t forget to browse the room information for details such as bed numbers, sizes, and free breakfast slots. Check the booking apps and the actual hotel websites to compare the room details.
2. Not Asking about Airport Distance
Hotel booking websites usually include distances to popular places, including airports. However, the numbers are not always accurate, and this is a common problem on booking websites. If a hotel says that the distance to the airport is 7-km away (30-minute driving), don't trust it immediately! Consider factors such as traffic conditions and the availability of transportation.
In big cities like Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila, or Singapore, traffic can be crazy during rush hours. Think about where your hotel is located, and how long the trip from and to the airport will last. If you have to be at the airport at 09:00 am, don’t depart from the hotel at 08:00 am (the busy morning hours), or you will get stuck on the road.
Transportation also has important roles. If you have enough time for the road and the local public transportation is reliable, use it. If the hotel offers a free (or cheap) airport shuttle, don't hesitate to use it, especially if you must arrive quickly.
3. Not Utilizing Rewards Program
Do you know that there are reward programs for cheap hotel bookings? Many beginner travellers don’t know that they can sign up for one of the many reward program websites. These websites provide deals, discounts, and other interesting offers if you become loyal guests at specific hotels.
Singapore has many reward program websites, some of them with luxury hotels as their members. Imagine staying at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or Sheraton for ridiculously low rates! You can do this by applying for a membership and fulfilling the requirements. Use the reward points to cut the accommodation budget and get the best hotel room available.
4. Not Following up on the Booking Process
You plan to spend the New Year holiday with your family. Since it is the peak season, you decide to book a large hotel room six months in advance. You feel safe after booking the room and never think about it until the day of the trip looms closely. You are surprised to hear that the hotel has suddenly changed your room.
Not following up on your booking process can ruin your holiday plan. Remember, a hotel has plans to arrange guests based on many factors, not just the rooms they order. Hotels usually give priority to guests who book directly through their official websites or reward programs. Smaller hotels may also mix up names during the booking hotel process, which can happen near peak seasons.
To avoid this problem, follow up on all your booking processes. If you book a hotel six months in advance, for example, follow up every two months. Your last follow-up should be at least two weeks before the trip, so you can still think about solutions when something happens.
5. Not Making Sure about Specific Room Amenities
Hotel booking websites usually give information about the amenities you can expect in their rooms. However, how accurate are they? Small amenities may look insignificant, but they can make or break your holiday. Imagine booking a hotel for an important conference. You plan to look your best in the morning, only to realize that the room does not have a hairdryer. Alamak!
You can expect to get free toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and towels. However, some hotels may include a hairdryer, ironing board, and fridge in their room rates, while others don't. Mineral water, tea, and coffee are available for free in most 3-star hotels, but some hotels with the same status may not offer them at all.
The solution? Contact the hotel directly to be sure about what amenities you will get with the rates. Don’t forget to ask whether you should pay for asking for more of them.
6. Not Considering the Breakfast Costs
Breakfast is another simple thing that can get complicated when it comes to hotel rates. Some people like free breakfast for convenience, while others skip breakfast and eat out at cheap restaurants. Whatever you choose, never ignore the breakfast costs when booking hotels. Factoring in the cost of breakfast can affect your budget, depending on the holiday plan.
Think about your budget and activities when travelling. Do you plan to taste the local foods? Book a room without free breakfast. Don't mind paying an additional $12 for a buffet breakfast before the meeting? Choose a room with free breakfast.
7. Not Counting Additional Service Fees
“The Wi-Fi is not free?", you scream. The hotel staff gently reminds you that only public area Wi-Fi is free, while the bedroom one is available at an additional cost. In this case, the hotel is not wrong. You should pay more attention to additional service fees in the hotel details.
Depending on the hotel's policy, you may find information about which services require additional fees. For example, some beachside resorts may provide BBQ grills for free, while others require additional fees. Some 3-star hotels provide free airport shuttle, while others ask you to pay.
Some hotel booking websites do not write information about additional fees. You must list the things you need the most in the hotel (Wi-Fi, airport shuttle, city shuttle, parking) and inquire whether they are free. You may also need to pay more for additional perks, such as bringing a pet to the hotel.
8. Not Using the Credit Card
Do you want to be more financially responsible by reducing the usage of your credit card? That's great, but you may want to use it when booking hotels. A credit card offers benefits like cashback, discounts, special offers, airline miles, and loyalty points. Many big hotels partner with major credit card companies to provide a lot of deals, which can significantly slash your budget.
Do you know that paying with a debit card can sometimes backfire? Many hotels require guests to pay an “incidental deposit” if you pay with a debit card. The deposit is a security measure to protect the hotel from overdraft fees. Once you complete the payment and stay successfully, the hotel will refund it, but it usually takes a long time.
So, why take the difficult route? Use your credit card for online hotel bookings and get the extra benefits!
9. Not Booking a Refundable Room
A refundable room is usually cheap, but it comes at a different price. If you must cancel the trip because of bad weather, sickness, or other difficult situations, you end up wasting money for that “cheap room.” A non-refundable room is usually cheap because the hotel can reduce the number of empty rooms. When you must cancel the trip, say goodbye to your money.
Book non-refundable rooms only when you need to get accommodation quickly. If you have a long waiting period until the trip date, skip this risky room and book for a refundable one.
10. Not Calculating the Arrival and Departure Times
According to Dara Continenza, a rookie mistake she once made was booking an overseas flight without considering the arrival time. She booked a room for 14 May, the same date as her flight, forgetting that she had a red-eye flight. This meant that she arrived on 15 May in the morning and had to book a new, more expensive room.
Check the dates and times of your arrival and departure. Compare them with the check-in and check-out times of the hotel. Don’t let this simple misunderstanding cost you extra money or even your room.
You may not be a “travel expert,” but you can learn how to travel the right way. Avoid these 10 common mistakes when booking hotels and improve your experience in a significant way. Have a happy and shiok trip!