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!
WHY CREDIT CARD FEES DRAIN YOUR SAVINGS
Everyone knows that interest rates make credit card very expensive to have and maintain but few people know that fees are the real source of money loss.
Your credit card will come with a credit limit -- the maximum amount of credit that will be extended to you. In the past, if a particular credit card charge would put you over your credit limit, the transaction would be rejected. If you wanted to make a charge that would put you over the limit, you had to pay down your balance first.
In recent years, credit card companies allowed customers to make charges that put them over the limit. Of course, this convenience did not come free -- the companies charged hefty fees for over-limit charges, and usually did not tell customers that they were going over the limit.
This changed somewhat with the enactment of the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the CARD Act). Under the rules of the CARD Act, a credit card company cannot charge over-limit fees unless you “opt in,” that is, agree in advance that the company can allow transactions that would put your balance over the credit limit. Even if a credit card company processes a transaction over your limit, if you did not opt in, the company cannot charge you an over-limit fee.
The Credit CARD Act is often called the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights. President Obama signed the bill into law in May, 2009. Many of the most significant provisions of the law took effect in February, 2010. The law has two main purposes:
Fairness - Prohibit certain practices that are unfair or abusive such as hiking up the rate on an existing balance or allowing a consumer to go overlimit and then imposing an overlimit fee.
Transparency - Make the rates and fees on credit cards more transparent so consumers can understand how much they are paying for their credit card and can compare different cards.
If you do opt in, the company can charge over-limit fees. The CARD Act places some limits on those fees. The company can only charge you one over-limit fee per billing cycle, but it can charge for the same over-limit transaction in a total of three billing cycles if you do not bring the outstanding balance below the limit before the bills are due.
The best strategy to avoid over-limit fees is simple-don’t opt in! And don’t add an over-limit protection plan. This may require some diligence on your part, so that you don’t accidentally opt in. For example, a credit application may have a box to check or a line to initial or sign that is really an agreement to allow over-limit transactions.
Not sure if you may have opted in by mistake? If you opt in, the company must provide a written statement confirming you agreed to let them process over-limit transactions. You can revoke this agreement at any time. (The over-limit fees would still apply to over-limit transactions already processed.) You can revoke the agreement with the same method you used to opt in.
So, if you opted in by phone, you can revoke your agreement with a phone call. Not certain how you opted in? Contact your credit card company and find out. As always, send a confirmation letter in case there is a dispute later.
Many credit card companies charge penalty fees for:
• late payments
• over-limit charges (if you opt in), and
• payments returned for insufficient funds.
The CARD Act limits these fees to the actual amount the violation cost the company, or to a maximum of $25 for the first violation and $35 for a second violation (if it occurred within six billing cycles of the first violation). Still, these fees can add up. Be sure to pay your bill on time and make sure you have enough money in your bank account to cover your payment.
Only about 5% of credit cards charge annual fees, so look for one that doesn’t. But, you also have to look out for other fees. New fees seem to pop up all the time. Now that the CARD Act has limited the amount of fees for late payments, returned payments, and over-limit charges, credit card companies may get even more creative in finding ways to add fees. For example, one card targeting people with poor credit charges a one-time $45 “processing fee.” Some of these fees may not be included in the written disclosures.
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