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!
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAN DO FOR HOMEOWNERS
Unlike driving a car, you can legally own a home without homeowners insurance. However, if you finance your home with a mortgage, your lender most likely will require you to have home insurance coverage to protect your home in case of damage cause by unforeseen circumstances, such as fires or natural disasters.
If you live in an area that is prone to flooding or earthquakes, your lender may also require you to purchase flood insurance or earthquake insurance.
If you purchase a condominium or co-op, your board may require you to buy condominium insurance or home insurance. Be sure to check with your board to see what type of policy is required.
After you pay off your mortgage, you aren't required to have home insurance. However, you should keep your home insurance policy active to avoid risking what you've invested in your home.
Homeowners insurance compensates you for losses to your home and your possessions inside it, so purchasing a homeowners insurance policy provides added security for your investment. Homeowners insurance also protects you if you're legally liable for someone's injuries on your property, as well as from financial losses caused by storms, fire, theft and other events outlined in your policy.
Different companies offer different homeowners insurance coverages, so choosing the right policy means finding the right mix of coverages to meet your needs.
Generally, a standard homeowners insurance policy protects the following:
-The physical structure of your home
-Structures on your property (storage sheds, pools, boathouses, etc.)
-Your personal property and belongings inside your home, up to specified limits
-Your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or your family members cause to other people
-Injuries to your household pets while inside your home
-Additional living expenses if a fire or other insured disaster leaves you temporarily unable to live in your home.
Often, for an additional fee, you can select optional homeowners insurance coverages, including:
-Higher limits of liability for property damage or bodily injury
-Replacement cost for personal property
-Protection for valuables (jewelry, watches, fur, etc.)
-Additional coverage for electronics or computer equipment.
To make shopping for the right homeowners insurance policy easier, take an inventory of what you own to decide what level of coverage makes you comfortable. Once you know your coverage level, get a homeowners insurance quote and choose the policy that's right for you.
What about townhouses?
If you own a townhouse, you can insure it with a homeowners insurance policy or an association master policy, depending on your situation. Some townhouse associations have master policies, in which case you should purchase a tenant homeowners insurance policy to insure your personal property. Other townhouse associations do not have master policies, which is when you should purchase a homeowners insurance policy for your unit. Check with your association to determine which type of policy you should purchase for your townhouse.
You generally have three options to choose from when deciding how much home insurance you need, and each of these options provides a different level of coverage for your home:
Actual Cash Value - Pays for the cost to replace damaged property while factoring in depreciation amounts. For home insurance policies, Actual Cash Value applies unless a policy states that Replacement Cost or Guaranteed Replacement Cost has been chosen.
Replacement Cost - Pays for the cost to replace damaged property without factoring in deductions for depreciation, but payment is limited to a maximum dollar amount.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost - Pays the full cost of replacing damaged property, with no deduction for depreciation and no dollar limit. Guaranteed Replacement Cost is not available in all states, and most companies limit the coverage to 120 percent of the cost to rebuild your home. Allowing for this amount protects you in cases of increased construction costs or other building-related fees due to inflation.
You can determine a rough estimate of what it would cost to rebuild your home by following this equation:
Local building costs per square foot x Total square footage of your home = Cost to rebuild your home.
Your local builders association or a real estate appraiser can provide you with local building costs for your estimate.
What factors can affect homeowners insurance premiums?
The following factors can affect your homeowners insurance premium:
Home Features and Characteristics - Your home's age, type of structure, wiring, roof, garage, etc., can affect your homeowners insurance premium. Older homes can often cost more to insure, and those costs can differ depending on whether your home is brick, frame, stone or has synthetic siding.
Location - Where your home is located can change your homeowners insurance premium. For instance, your home insurance rate can be affected if your home is in close proximity to a fire station; is exposed to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes; or is in a neighborhood more prone to theft.
Protective Devices - Burglar alarm systems, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and deadbolt locks can lower your homeowners insurance premium.
Personal Factors - What you do can affect your homeowners insurance premium, too. For instance, smokers may pay more for home insurance than nonsmokers. A good credit history also can lower what you pay for home insurance.
Claims History - If you have a history of claims on a homeowners insurance policy, you may pay a higher premium.