In the midst of the busiest travel season of the year, you'd hate to find yourself bounced out of your room or wandering adrift through a strange and unfamiliar city. Follow these tips from the man in the know and you'll have a holly jolly Holiday vacation.
By Derek Pingree
The Concierge submits thoughts and advice that draw from years of experience in a variety of positions within upscale guest service. Some of these positions included Concierge, Executive Personal Assistant and Doorman.
The holiday season is upon us! There is the excitement of shopping, the singing of carolers, the relishing of great food, fun with the family, phenomenal football and yes, the JOYS of traveling (sarcasm mine). One could pen an entire book on the subtleties that make traveling easier, however since magazine editors usually frown on such large submissions I will just share a few basic truths for you to remember this year if your travels lead you to an unfamiliar city or town.
Don't Get Walked
Will your travels land you in a hotel room for at least one evening? Don't get walked. “Walked” is the jargon used by hotel personnel to describe the action of deflecting you to another property.
Hotels, like airlines, rationalize overbooking based on a given percentage of predictable no-shows and cancellations. These “predictable” numbers are often off and are most certainly so during the holidays. Most hotels operate on a “first come, first served” mentality. Your reservation number is not a guarantee that you will rest your head upon a comfy pillow within their property that evening.
Have a late or delayed flight? Hit traffic? Inclement weather? Contact the hotel via telephone and explain the situation; ensure them that you will be arriving. When calling, be kind to the associate but ensure that you speak with authority. This is a great time to inquire when room service ends if you are staying at a place that provides it. Remember, you never want to order room service within an hour before the kitchen closes. Ask the associate for alternatives if you are going to be pushing it.
Did you book your hotel with a travel website? Definitely call the hotel directly before arriving. Although you were provided with a great price and a confirmation number by the website, this method of booking is often an unsafe practice.
When properties negotiate business with travel websites the hotel exchanges advertising opportunity for a specific allotted number of rooms for the site to book and this often leads to overbooking. When you visit these sites and you are informed that there is availability at a certain property, it is not always true. It may just mean that they have not filled their allotted number of rooms. The hotel may be full or become full by the time you get there. People who book on these sites are the first to be walked.
Spending Time as a Local
Will you find yourself with spare time during your period away from home? Don't waste it! Are you on your own to discover something to do or eat for an evening or the whole day? Google has become the twenty-first century concierge. Most hotels have deviated from having an associate dedicated to knowing and recommending the area and if you are visiting family it is unfortunate that they often don't know their own back yard. Much can be learned with a few strokes on a keyboard. Don't trust the star ratings of a local periodical. The stars and ratings that suggest quality are based on advertising dollars and the “people's choice” and voter claims are not to be trusted. You are better asking a local where they frequent.
Are you one of the unfortunate men who must devote time away from a wife, girlfriend, significant other or children on business during the holidays? Don't waste an opportunity! The days can be tough but remember that it is tough on the ones who love you as well. Spend some of your dead time thinking of a unique way to express your feelings and the fact that you miss them. They are thinking of you as much as you are thinking of them. Now is the time to “score points.”
Are you single and free from a major commitment? Take advantage of the opportunity you have. Even if you have been to the city or town before, find something new about it. Discover its subtle nuances. Expand your knowledge of that location. Get out and meet new people. Visit a quaint location or recognize a new restaurant or bar hot spot.
Will you be using a vehicle's GPS? Don't pause your brain. GPS is a great tool, however flawed. Don't sell your soul to her beautiful voice; utilize the gray matter. As in the days of Odysseus, it is not uncommon for this 21st century Siren to lead travelers astray. Many have ventured miles and spent a great deal of time wasted on back roads when they could have just as easily exited further down the highway. Think before you turn. Look at a map before the big trip.
The Standard Rules Still Apply
Last but not least; don't forget some basics! Driving under the influence is always a no-no; but driving under the influence during the holidays is a BIG no-no. Besides being extra-strict around the holidays, driving with out-of-state plates already makes you a target to cops. Tis the season to obey the rules of the road. Do the speed limit, especially on local roads. Do not jeopardize your life, family and career by being a fool!
Travel safe and happy holidays,