Thursday, January 26, 2017

What is my best bet to find nice hotel rooms, as opposed to "simply average" hotel rooms?

Check TripAdvisor. People on TripAdvisor are generally pretty candid about what they think of a hotel and its rooms. And while in the past, it has been criticized for giving inadequate protections to hotels from malicious reviews (by employees of competitors, or people who never stayed at a certain hotel), TripAdvisor now has enough of a critical mass of users, and generally enough safeguards in place against fraud and blackmail, that nowadays, it can be counted upon for a pretty fair description.

Image result for hotel room upgrade

I hope you don't find this answer disappointing, that you weren't counting on, say, some inside information that only people in the industry have access to to make such determinations. 

But really - we use TripAdvisor, too (often to 'spy' on each other, see what our competitors have that we need to get, what they are doing that we need to be doing) . . . It also tells us, out of all the stuff we try, what guests actually respond to.

  • For years, the general belief, conventional wisdom, etc. was that 'chain' hotels, nationally branded hotels, franchised hotels, were preferred by customers over independent hotels, what we now call 'boutique' hotels. TripAdvisor has taught us that the exact opposite is true. Some chain hotels get highly positive reviews (and do better than others about getting them consistently), but we confirmed what some of us have long suspected: guests who check into a hotel in one town don't want to see the same wallpaper and decor they saw in the last.
  • So many hotels sell 'service' - indeed, I feel that 'selling service' is the pablum of mediocre to subnormal hotel minds, and it often turns up as an attempt to compensate for the fact that you run a crappy hotel that needs renovating, and achieves nothing for your hotel other than to poison your work environment and allow a lot of bad workplace politics to be acted out. If the TV isn't working, for example, or the rooms were not cleaned well, does it put it right with the guest that the clerk was suitably apologetic? Is that what the guest came and paid his money hoping to experience, a suitably empathetic and contrite desk clerk?  Reading the actual experience of guests in TripAdvisor reviews can educate you about how attempts at 'service' actually goes over (some staff, and even many hotel managers, need an education at what service is: see Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What are some good questions to ask a Customer Service candidate in an interview? ), what guests actually see in terms of service (in thirty years, I've only heard one complaint that a clerk 'wasn't exactly rude but I don't think I was greeted as I should have been', and that was an outlier, more useful as a war story than something you can actually learn something from), and where the problem actually lies when 'service' breaks down. I may occasionally need to give an employee a little coaching on minding his manners or not going over as uncaring; but my goal is to run a tight enough property that 'service' is the biggest criticism you can make of it if you can make one at all; that in as many cases as possible, if a 'service' issue comes up, the solution will be to remove the two-by-four in my own (or my hotel's) eye before going for the toothpick fragment in the eye of my employee.
And TripAdvisor will tell you, as an individual guest, how one or more of different available hotels might work best for you, individually - that is, how you might be best served. :-)  Some amenities and features are regarded as essential by some, those same ones can be easily passed on by another - but those others will consider some other amenity or feature essential. Some people like personalized attention and service, others - and I'm one of those - prefer to just be left alone (if I need something, I'm not shy about making a request).

As to variations in quality between rooms within an individual hotel - actually, they don't vary that much, and when they do, either the more upscale rooms are marketed a little differently (e.g., they are held for VIP guests, corporate users, etc.), or they are marketed (with little success in most places, in nearly all but the most upscale luxury properties) as a different kind of experience, an extra-cost option. 

In most hotels, everyone wants the best room in the house at a big discount off what the guy in the cheapest room is paying, so it doesn't really pay to have too many of your rooms be too much 'nicer' than the general lot of them - especially if you're not filling the hotel every night.

Originally appeared on Quora

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