The lodging industry is becoming stricter with its
reservation rules. Because of this you may encounter the following problems,
especially in large tourist areas:
Having to forfeit your deposit upon canceling a reservation.
Being billed for a room even though you did not use it, due
to minimum stay requirements.
Not receiving the services or amenities that were advertised
Being billed at higher room rates than the “special rate”
advertised or quoted.
Complaints are often the result of lack of disclosure or
miscommunication between the business and the consumer. Ask questions when
making reservations, and request all your reservation information in writing.
Higher cancellation and no-show fees are likely to be
charged by places that do not rent by the day. Resorts commonly rent by the
week and lodges may rent by the week or blocks of days. Avoiding fees may
require cancellation well in advance to keep the lodge from losing business.
Request and understand the cancellation policy prior to making a commitment.
Prior to making a reservation or giving out payment
If you do have to cancel be sure to ask for a cancellation
number and the name of the person who gave it to you.
Always request the sending of a written confirmation that
includes details of your arrangements:
Check-in/check-out dates and times.
Rates and special offerings – including meals, activities,
entertainment, shuttle service, etc.
Arrangements – number/type of beds, views/floor location,
number of guests, non-smoking/smoking, pets, early/late check-in or check-out,
adjoined/connected rooms, being located close to or away from activity areas,
Amenities – whirlpool, fireplace, suite, appliances,
Cancellation and change policies.
Many motels will assign a reservation confirmation number
and follow up with a mailed or e-mailed confirmation. If the reservation is
made a few days in advance, a mailing may not be possible. If this is not
automatically done, ask the reservation clerk for a confirmation number and for
a written confirmation.
Be sure to make a follow-up contact when a written
confirmation is not available to reconfirm your reservation.
Confirm the room rate you will be charged at the time you
make the reservation to avoid potential misunderstandings at
check-in/check-out. Ask for written confirmation verifying the rate once you
make your reservation.
Before booking, make sure you know all of the charges
associated with your room. Many hotels have extra charges other than the price
of the room and sales tax. Some hotels with extra amenities such as pools,
spas, hiking trails, golf courses, or tennis courts charge an extra fee whether
or not you use them. It is expensive to use items from a minibar and some
hotels charge not only for the item, but also a replenishment fee. If you are
arriving before check in, expect to be charged for temporary luggage storage.
Make sure to review arrival and departure policies. Ask about fees before using
any of the hotels amenities.
Coupons, special offers, gift certificates
When using a coupon, special offer, gift certificate or
membership discount, be sure you tell the reservation clerk. Read the discount
over carefully for special conditions or limitations on its use and
Credit card blocking
Be aware of account “blocking” when making a reservation.
“Blocking” is how a business verifies that you are able to pay for potential charges.
The credit card account you provided for payment will be sent an estimated
total by the reservation clerk. This total includes known standard charges,
like room rate and taxes, but also adds an estimated total for potential
“extra” charges like meals, beverages, room service, movie rentals, etc. If the
transaction is approved, your available credit is reduced by the estimated
amount. That is a “block.” This may become a problem if you are near your
credit limit. It is not only embarrassing to have your card declined, but if
you have an emergency purchase to make, you may not have enough available
Be aware that a “block” can be placed on every card used –
reservation, check-in, and check-out. To avoid this, use the same card for all
transactions and ask the clerk how long any “block” will remain after you
check-out. The reason for a “block” continuation after check-out is the same as
for the initial “blocking” – unknown charges. An example would be having
breakfast just prior to leaving and charging it to your room. That charge may
not have made it to the check-out counter prior to leaving, but is still owed
and will be charged against your account.
When a different card or cash is used at check-out, the
“blocks” placed on other cards may remain up to 15 days afterwards. Be sure to
ask the clerk to remove any unnecessary “blocking” should this occur.
Online travel sites
Using an online travel site can save you time and money.
Make sure to shop different sites as prices can vary greatly. Always read all
of the fine print. Print hard copies of charges, offers, or specials when you
make reservations. Some sites will not let you cancel after booking. Know your
responsibilities should your travel plans change prior to making a reservation.
Print a hard copy of the site’s cancellation/change policy.
Beware of scams
As with any other consumer transaction, there are scam
artists trying to steal your hard-earned money. Beware of cheap lodging
advertised on sites such as Craigslist or solicitations from companies you have
not heard of.
Using a credit card is one of the safest methods of making a
reservation payment. Common scams involve wiring money, giving checking or
saving account information, using a Pay-pal type account, or money pack card.
Smaller privately owned and operated locations, such as a resort, may not
accept card payments.
Scammers have the same access to legitimate lodging sites as
you do and are known to create legitimate looking information by copying it
into the scam material. By checking with available area tourism locations you
can verify you are dealing directly with a legitimate location. Remember, if it
seems to be too good to be true, it usually is.