Boutique hotels, business lodges, overnighting near the airport, family friendly or couples only, choosing the right hotel can be overwhelming, especially when last-minute promotions, deals for locals and loyalty programmes are at play.
There are, however, a few fail-safe suggestions to simplify the booking process.
“If you have stayed in a hotel that really made a lasting impression, instead of sifting through hundreds of stand-alone properties, take a look at what else they have in their portfolio,” suggests Sharmila Ragunanan, Group Marketing Manager Dream Hotels & Resorts.
“If it is a strong brand, that positive ethos should filter through all of its hotels, resorts lodges and guesthouses. Building up a loyal relationship by regularly staying at their properties will make it easier for the team to get better at pre-empting what you need, before you ask.
“If you are a frequent traveller… you can typically earn rewards from their loyalty program or through a membership as a value-add,” Ms. Ragunanan adds.
First impressions count
“You can usually get an idea about what your stay might be like by browsing through a hotel’s website and, most importantly, at that first point of contact, when you e-mail or call to ask questions,” says Jeff Rosenberg, Head Chairperson of Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, Fedhasa.
“A team member should attend to your queries politely and promptly but it is the detailed quality of their responses that should also be considered. Whether you are looking for a great deal or some great kid-friendly room options, it is important that they do what they can to accommodate your requests but are also upfront about telling you what facilities they might not have.”
Beware the hotel that targets everyone
Guest personalisation is a growing international trend and should be evident in a hotel's service, regardless of how many nights you stay or which room category you book.
Ms. Ragunanan adds: "Every guest should feel well looked after, regardless of whether they are a V.I.P…. Our ‘One Guest’ approach remains the same throughout our properties, where our team makes sure each guest feels like they matter the most.”
Know what you want
Before you begin searching for a hotel, determine which services and facilities are important and which are ‘nice to have’.
“If you are looking for something for the family, don’t get distracted by the fast, free Wi-Fi or the private jacuzzi,” says Rosenberg. “The best way to gauge if you are the right guest for a hotel is to browse through its facilities but also its specials.”
“If you are looking at a hotel that offers family-friendly rooms but the facilities and their on-site restaurants are geared at business travellers, and they have more than a few honeymoon deals, you might experience more than a few pain points during your trip.”
Read peer reviews
Do you notice a pattern of issues and complaints? It may be Wi-Fi connectivity, cleanliness or gripes about reception. Whatever the case may be, decide if any of these issues would be a problem for you.
Another thing to look for here is the quality of the response to the complaints from the hotel. Polite and proactive responses offer insight into the level of professionalism.
Every traveller has different needs and whether you are looking for a great deal or a great location, it is important that the property you choose goes above and beyond, says Ms. Ragunanan.
“If they are offering you value-adds without asking and sending you options that are better than you had in mind, chances are you have found a great hotel.”