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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.
DID YOU KNOW ARIZONA IS A VERY POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION?

Arizona-the Grand Canyon State-is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Beyond the iconic Grand Canyon, experiences await you in every direction and in every corner of the state. Arizona is home to 47 national parks, monuments and refuges as well as 29 state parks that showcase mountains, buttes, deserts and hidden lakes. Visitors often start exploring Arizona from Phoenix, the state capital and the fifth largest city in the United States.

Phoenix and Outskirts
Today, Phoenix is a destination as well as a gateway to further adventure in the rugged deserts, lakes and canyons around its edges. Here are some sites to visit around the city:

Phoenix was not the first town to arise along the banks of the Salt River. Explore Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park to see where the ancient Sonoran Desert people once lived and farmed.

The145-acre Desert Botanical Garden strives to be the premier center in the world for the display, study and understanding of desert plants and their environments. Visitors from around the world come here to appreciate the beauty of the garden and to enjoy its outdoor trails, special events and education programs.

The Heard Museum is one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures with its 11 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, renowned café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more. Be sure and watch the Heard’s Native People of the Southwest video series.

There is a reason National Geographic named Phoenix one of "America’s Best Hiking Cities." Phoenix’s South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States with 16,000 acres and 51 miles of trails for hiking, wildlife viewing or horseback riding. Other Phoenix area trails and desert preserves include Camelback Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak. The Tonto National Forest is another “backyard” desert playground for urban dwellers-tubing on the Salt River is an Arizona summer tradition!
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AUSTRIA - YOUR NEXT DESTINATION 

The Alps cover most of Austria, so it's really no surprise that this country is one of Europe's top ski holiday destinations. Unlike some other European countries, Austrian ski villages are "chocolate-box" traditional and very pretty, centring round an onion-domed church rather than a coach park. Austrian ski resorts also have a reputation for having a high standard of accommodation that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and some of the liveliest apres ski in the Alps. All in all, a ski holiday in Austria will give you great skiing and beautiful scenery, without breaking the bank.

Austria also has much in the way of sights to see and places to visit. The capital city of Vienna is awash with grandiose buildings including palaces, theatres, museums and cathedrals. To the west of the capital, on the border of Austria and Germany, lies Salzburg the birthplace of Mozart. Many visitors go to Austria to see the film locations used in the making of The Sound of Music.

Visit the Parliament; The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the country's largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentary, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. The political system of the Second Republic with its nine states is based on the constitution of 1920 and 1929, which was reenacted on 1 May 1945

Seasons in Austria are quite defined and, dependent on the reason you are visiting, will dictate the best time to go. For sightseeing, the months of June through to September are recommended though it can get very hot during August. For those arriving to enjoy the pistes the ski season starts around December and goes on through to late March.















Salzburg castle is one of largest and most well-preserved medieval castles in Europe. Strategically located at the top of Festungsberg mountain, the mighty fortress towers over the city of Salzburg, breathing life into its magnificent skyline. This castle houses the “Salzburg Bull”, an organ with more than two hundred pipes. A truly stunning piece of medieval architecture, representative of the heart of Salzburg, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in Austria.

Prince Archbishop Eberhard (1060 to 1088) built the first castle on the Festungsberg in 1077. Initially, this was little more than a bailey with a wooden wall, serving mostly for the protection of Imperial troops of the Holy Roman Empire. However, during the "Investiturstreit", a struggle for power between Pope Gregor VII. and Emperor Henry IV., Prince Archbishop Eberhard decided to stand by the Pope.

AUSTRIA TRAVEL FACTS:
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Austria and may stay up to 90 days without a visa.

Security: Vienna is generally a safe city, however, guard against pickpockets in popular tourist and shopping areas. Don’t carry a lot of cash and lock any valuables in your hotel’s safe.

Time: Austria is six hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.

Money: The local currency is the euro. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter: www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

Phone Calls: When calling Vienna from the U.S., dial 011 43 1, then the local number. To call the U.S. from Austria, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number.

When to Go: Visit during the mild (average 68°F [20°C]) summer season to experience the outdoor cafés and explore the historic sites on foot. December is cold (average 34°F [1°C]), but magical with Christmas markets, horse-drawn carriages, and snow-topped hillsides.

Getting There: Vienna has only one international airport, Vienna International Airport. The City Airport Train (CAT) goes directly to the city center in about 15 minutes. A cheaper alternative is the regular train from the airport to Landstrasse station (about 30 minutes). Purchase tickets on the train platform and validate before boarding.

If traveling to Vienna from within Europe, you may also choose to arrive at the Bratislava international airport about 37 miles (60 kilometers) away from the city. A shuttle bus transports arriving passengers to Vienna. www.airportshuttle.sk

Getting Around: Vienna is a very walkable city with a number of its main tourist attractions situated in the city’s first district (the city center). There’s also an extensive public transportation system including buses, trams, and five subway lines, plus an alternative system of night buses. Private sightseeing buses offer city tours (www.viennasightseeing.at). Ride the number one or two public tram lines to tour the first district along the Ringstrasse.

There are so many things you can do in Austria that If we wrote one thousand pages it would still not cover everything - so go see Austria for your self!




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