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State Department Travel Information
FlightAware Flight Tracking
Hotels.com
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TIPS ON MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:

When traveling for business or fun, there’s nothing worse than thinking you have a reservation and learning your hotel reservations been lost, your room has one bed and not two bedrooms, or you thought your check-in time was noon, only to find out it is really 3:00pm. To help avoid these things from happening, there are a few helpful hotel reservation tips seasoned travelers recommend:

Always use a credit card when making a hotel reservation. A credit cards offers the guest some level of protection should the hotel stay go awry. Any disputes a guest may have with the hotel, or with the billing can more easily be rectified through the credit card company. The card company will act as a mediator once their client can show effort to resolve the dispute. Additionally, if a dispute cannot be resolved, the credit card company has the authority to remove the charge from a client’s bill. If cash were paid, a hotel guest would have no recourse. Note: If you don’t use your own credit card to secure a reservation, be aware that the person whose name is on the card will be responsible for showing the card and signing at check in. If the card does not belong to the person staying at the hotel, notify the desk before leaving home (prior to arrival) and ask what their identification procedure is. They may accept a letter from the credit card holder authorizing use, and a copy of both the front and back of the card.

Ask for deals/discounts at each hotel. Many hotels offer corporate, AAA, senior, or even mid-week/off-season discounts. If one is not offered - ask about them. Many hotels now offer ‘rewards’ programs and some hotels reduce rates by $50 or more, for simply signing up for their program. If making reservations online, look for internet-only rates and shop various websites to find the best deals. Travel agents can often secure unadvertised specials or late check-in opportunities which can translate into huge savings.

When making reservations speak clearly and repeat spelling of all names. There have been many reservations lost because of inaccurate spelling and guests have been told they did not have rooms when a hotel or an entire city was booked to capacity. If any special requests are made, verify them and if possible get them in writing. Also make sure to get the name of the employee. Verify everything spell names and verify information/requests etc. Double check reservations prior to leaving for hotel and make sure names of all hotel employees you’ve spoken to are taken.

When reservations are made, changed and cancelled-confirmation numbers are given. Make sure all numbers are kept in a safe place until credit cards are billed and all charges are verified. Cancellation and confirmation numbers are often the difference between being charged for a hotel reservation that was cancelled, the possibility of a free upgrade when the hotel overbooks and you can prove when your reservation was made, and being stranded away from home without a room for the night.
Discuss hotel policies prior to making reservations, and verify them at check-in. Some hotels require credit cards at check in for any hotel charges, such as telephone usage, room service, meals in the hotel, or even take -out arranged through the hotel with area restaurants, etc. If a credit card is not available, a cash/check deposit maybe required for any services/fees that may accrue during the hotel stay. Determine when check-in/check-out times are, when cancellation policies go into affect and verify occupancy limits if staying in a room with multiple occupants.

Remember these hotel reservation tips when scheduling your travel plans. Whether by internet, through a travel agent, or by telephone, it pays to research the hotel and be meticulous when making arrangements. A little pre-planning when making reservations can save major headaches when traveling away from home.


DID YOU KNOW:
FINDING THE BEST HOTEL RATES:
Due to the internet, the manners in which hotel rooms are procured have drastically changed over the last couple of decades. Prior to internet access, guests called hotels directly to book rooms. While some guests continue to book rooms this way, many have learned that calling a hotel directly may not be the most economical choice. However, it is also been found that hotel rates also vary a great deal from website to website, especially discount travel sites.

Hotels are in constant competition with each other for your business. The goal of every hotel is to achieve 100% occupancy. Not only are they competing with each other, they are often competing with themselves. Look at how many hotels have various hotel chain subsidiaries beneath them. They must stay competitive, but still continue to make a profit while keeping their rooms occupied. This said, many hotels offer blocks of rooms to a variety of other entities to sell. Travel agents and online brokers typically compete to sell rooms for hotels, and they receive a percentage of the purchase price. The rate disparity comes into play two ways. First, the hotel is offering rooms at their standard rates or discount club rates. Second, because hotels offer these agents and booking websites various rates, someone who is getting a larger percentage of the sale price, can afford to offer the room at a lower rate than someone who is getting a small percentage from the sale.

Finding the best room rate:
If contacting the hotel directly, ask if they have any current specials. If your travel plans are flexible, inquire about any future specials, and the specific parameters of those specials.

If you’re a ‘select’, ‘rewards’ or hotel ‘member’, mention this, and ask if they have any special discounts available for members of their programs. Additionally, if you are affiliated with a corporate account, or a roadside assistance plan which offers travel benefits, mention that too. Sometimes guests are eligible for more than one discount and can pick and choose the one that provides the greatest savings.

When placing reservations online through a hotel booking service, first find the service that offers the best deal. The best deal may not be the one which provides the lowest price, but the service with the best room guarantee, who is willing to price match. If you’ve found the room for a lower rate elsewhere, tell your preferred vendor and ask them to match the price. Several websites will even provide a 30-day guarantee against lower prices - so even after booking your reservation, stay vigilant.

Hotel rates vary so much because there are numerous entities vying to secure your business by competing with each other. With a little investigative prowess, you can secure the best rates possible for your hotel stay, despite the varying rates.

TRAVEL TIPS:
So you are traveling and want to find the best deals when you shop in your vacation city what you can do, besides go window shopping and hope you find that special item is check out Groupon!

Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) is a global leader of local commerce and the place you start when you want to buy just about anything, anytime, anywhere. By leveraging the company’s global relationships and scale, Groupon offers consumers a vast marketplace of unbeatable deals all over the world.

Shoppers discover the best a city has to offer on the web or on mobile with Groupon Local, enjoy vacations with Groupon Getaways, and find a curated selection of electronics, fashion, home furnishings and more with Groupon Goods.

Groupon is redefining how traditional small businesses attract, retain and interact with customers by providing merchants with a suite of products and services, including customizable deal campaigns, credit card payment processing capabilities, and point-of-sale solutions that help businesses grow and operate more effectively.To search for great deals or subscribe to Groupon emails, visit www.Groupon.com.

The Groupon Sweepstakes:
Any and all Groupon customers in the United States who buy or redeem local Groupons will be automatically entered to win weekly $500 cash prizes and one $50,000 grand prize. And for inspiration Groupon has joined forces with six top bloggers from across the country who are now redeeming local Groupons and sharing their stories on their websites, social media and Groupon.

"The $100,000 Summer to Redeem Sweepstakes is all about encouraging people to get out and enjoy the best of the season," said Groupon's global head of marketing, Rich Williams. "If you've been eyeing a great local deal or waiting for the perfect moment to use a Groupon you've been holding onto, now's the time."

The $100,000 Summer to Redeem Sweepstakes runs today through Aug. 24. In addition to the grand prize of $50,000 in cash, customers who buy or redeem local Groupons during the period will be entered into weekly drawings where 15 people will win $500 cash prizes each week.

For those who need inspiration on how to break out of routine or find fun things to do this summer, Groupon has joined forces with six local experts who are sharing their best #SummerOfGroupon stories and experiences for four weeks. Bloggers include Jamie from eighteen25 in Las Vegas, Christina of The Taylor House in Minneapolis, Monica of Run, Eat, Repeat in Los Angeles, Jessica of Modern Day Moms in Tampa, Fla., Penelope of Penelope's Oasis in New York and Amy of Mod Podge Rocks in Atlanta. At the end of four weeks, one of these influencers will win $20,000 cash.
ABC has had many great shows over the years; below is  a description of one of the more popular shows on ABC Grey's Anatomy.

Grey's Anatomy follows the lives of surgical interns and residents at the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (formerly Seattle Grace Hospital, Season 1-6, Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, Season 6-9, and then Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Season 9-present), as they gradually evolve into seasoned doctors, with the help of their competent mentors. Every installment, typically, commences with a voice-over narrative from Meredith Grey or a season regular, foreshadowing the theme of the episode.

Each season tends to represent the physicians' academic year, with each completed year qualifying the residents at a level higher in the surgical field. The season will always end with a finale, typically involving a tragic event such as a death or character departure.[66] Most installments revolve around the doctors' everyday lives as surgeons, but the show puts an emphasis on their personal, rather than professional, lives. The series sets aside medical ethics concerns to focus on character development and relationships. Although the physicians treat the illnesses of their patients, often through complex surgeries, their primary motivation is customarily praise and competition.

The residents initially arrive at the hospital each morning and dispute with one another over who will care for a certain patient. A hospital superior is in charge of assigning cases, often traversing to tense feelings between the residents and superiors. Episodes migrate back and forth from the doctors interacting with their patients, and with their co-workers. Once assigned a case, each doctor diagnoses the patient, with the help of his or her attending physician, which usually leads to surgery.

The surgeons tend to form personal connections with their patients, with a patient often conveying a message to his or her doctor, which unintentionally relates to the doctor's private life. The show displays the growth of relationships between the doctors, either friendly or sexual, often stemming to a clash between their personal and professional lives. Emotional scenes are often accompanied by an indie rock background song, something that has become a hallmark of the series. At the conclusion of each episode, Meredith delivers another voice-over, typically contrasting or following up on her initial one.

List of other great shows on ABC:
ABC Dramas Shows:
Grey's Anatomy
Castle
Rookie Blue
Revenge
Once Upon a Time
Scandal
Nashville
Motive
Mistresses
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Resurrection 2014-present)
Black Box
Modern Family
The Middle
Last Man Standing

Late night
Jimmy Kimmel Live!

News Shows:
ABC World News
Good Morning America
20/20
Nightline
This Week
America This Morning
Primetime
World News Now

REALITY SHOWS:
America's Funniest Home Videos
The Bachelor
The Bachelorette
Dancing with the Stars
Wipeout
Shark Tank
Extreme Weight Loss
Secret Millionaire
Celebrity Wife Swap
The Taste
Bet On Your Baby
Whodunnit?