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!
HOW TO FIND AN APARTMENT
There are many ways you can go about looking for and finding the right apartment. To ensure that you will be able to afford your new apartment keep your rent, plus any debt payments, at 36% or less of your monthly income. More than that, and you'll be eating in every night to pay for a too-expensive place. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on an apartment before you start looking. If you can't find a high-quality, low-rent apartment, consider getting a roommate to share the costs.
Dealing with a larger apartment management company has its advantages as well as drawbacks. One can find convenient solutions through larger companies, but one should also be careful about companies' claims regarding tenant needs, red tape, reliability, etc.
Use your Smartphone. With the latest advancement in mobile devices and specifically Smartphones (iPhone, Android or BlackBerry), you can use your phone's GPS to display apartments that are nearest to your location while walking around a neighborhood that you like. Download one of the apartment search applications available for your Smartphone and use your phone to search anywhere at anytime.
Find your ideal neighborhood. Drive or walk around different parts of the city where you might like to live. Consider commute times, your lifestyle needs and local conveniences.
Do a thorough inspection and take notes. Keep a record of each apartment you visit. Note what features are extra or missing. Take measurements of the rooms and doorways to ensure furniture fits on moving day. Turn on light switches, look inside closets, check water pressure, visit the laundry room, walk the grounds and ask neighbors what it’s like to live there. Identify your target location carefully. Pick a place that's close to work, groceries, and facilities you use regularly, so you spend less time (and money) in transit. Having public transportation nearby is a great way to cut your transportation costs.
Want to negotiate a discount in rent? Tell your prospective landlord you're very interested but hadn't planned to spend as much as he or she is asking. If you request a rent reduction, the worst they can say is no.
When furnishing your apartment, ask family members for free hand-me-down furniture or small appliances they're not using, or check www.freecycle.org, a site that allows people to give away items they no longer need. Find useable furniture at second-hand stores, or check www.craigslist.org and www.ebay.com. Visit low-cost stores for new household supplies.
Utilities and communications
Ask utility companies to waive connection fees or transfer fees - they may offer big discounts if you say you're considering signing with a competitor. "Bundling" services like Internet and cable with the same provider can also bring discounts. Consider skipping the landline if you mainly use a cell phone.
Get it in writing
Make sure the contract you sign with your landlord includes how long you must stay, how much notice you must give before you move, what repairs the landlord is obligated to do, and the rules regarding subletting. If the landlord promises an upgrade - such as painting before you move in - get that in print, too. If something seems unfair or suspect, call your state or county housing office or office of consumer affairs. These government agencies can inform you of your rights as a tenant.
Stay safe and insured
Think about safety for you and your belongings. Look for a good lock, and consider an alarm system. Check that your new apartment has a functioning smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector. A fire or flood can ruin your precious valuables, so renter’s insurance is a must. Figure out how much property protection you require by creating a complete inventory of everything in your apartment - from your TV to your socks - and then shop online for a quote.
Be the perfect tenant
Keeping your rental clean and quiet is the best way to ensure your landlord appreciates you. That can mean a grace period if you ever need to be a few days late on the rent, and a glowing reference for your next rental. Many landlords require a security deposit, so keeping the place in good repair helps to make sure you’ll get the money back.
With so many options on the market - high rise and low rises, condos, duplexes, old Victorians, newly renovated suites - it pays to put the effort into finding a good apartment with affordable rent to call your home.