Ever had a hotel stay turn into an absolute nightmare?
Everyone has had at least one.
We’ve had a few sorry experiences even though we had done our research. The hotel had a high rating and the reviews were mostly positive. Yet, towards the end of our stay, we couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Things just kept going wrong. It was like the stay was jinxed.
So after my last disastrous, I decided to interview my cousin Arun Lingan who’s been in the hospitality industry for over a decade, and find out how we can get the most from our hotel stay.
Interview with Arun Lingan - Hospitality Professional
Tarun D: Hi Arun, can you tell us something about yourself?
Arun Lingam: I’m a Hospitality professional with over a decade of experience working for Luxury Hotels. My expertise lies in Restaurant & Bar operations.
TD: And, why did you get into the hospitality industry?
AL: The industry is an ever-growing industry with endless opportunities to learn and grow – well until the pandemic!
TD: Which hotels have you worked for?
TD: What’s it like working for a 5-star hotel?
AL: Working for a 5-star hotel allowed me to develop myself professionally and as a person. With time and commitment, I was able to refine my technical skills and acquire a range of soft skills. More than my growth I had the opportunity to meet and socialize with people representing a wide range of cultures & nations.
TD: Your last workplace was a resort in the Maldives – what was that like?
AL: Working on an Isolated island was peaceful. I could enjoy the tropical weather and the scenic ocean view, even while at work.
Booking Your Hotel Stay
TD: When is the best time to book a hotel room? It’s been said either 30 days before or the very last minute. Which is it?
AL: I would suggest booking hotel rooms closer to the date. The Hotel Reservations team typically reduces the price to fill up vacant rooms and not to lose the revenue. Last-minute booking applies for City/Business hotels, however, for resort properties. It’s recommended reserving well in advance for better rates and during non-peak season.
TD: Do hotels lower their rates on certain days of the week or month?
AL: City hotels will have less occupancy during the weekend so they tend to reduce the tariff or offer staycation with value-added services. Leisure properties would hike their rates during peak season hence it’s best to plan a vacation when the business is slack.
TD: Would it be better to book directly with a hotel or online (booking.com) to get better a deal?
AL: Book directly with the hotel reservation team because they have the liberty to negotiate on the rates. If they cannot accommodate the request for a discount, they will offer an alternate solution of discounts on hotel services or arrange special amenities.
If you are planning to stay for a special occasion, online booking sites would not allow you to request a discount or extra facilities. Also they charge you a fee for their service.
TD: Do hotels match the lower rates of a booking website?
AL: As I mentioned the perks of booking directly with the hotel is high compared to booking through a online website. Hotels will not be able to match considering the room category and the facilities offered through the booking site would differ to a huge extent.
TD: As a parent of young children, should I reach out to the hotel in advance and ask for special treatment?
AL: Luxury hotels always extend special care to children checking-in to their hotel. Children are provided with special amenities like Chocolates or jam filled cookies every day. Restaurants and Room service will have a Kids menu which may be complimentary depending on the policy of the hotel.
Some hotels may have a Kids club where the children can keep themselves engaged with games, activities, or entertainment. Babysitting services are offered with extra charge in Hotels without specific Kids area. If you reserve multiple rooms the hotel may arrange an Interconnecting room than separate ones.
How To Get The Most From Your Hotel Stay
TD: Is it possible to get a free upgrade at check-in?
AL: If you are a frequent traveler, I recommend enrolling in a loyalty program. Most hotel brands with multiple chains around the world provide this. Enrolling is free of cost but you may have to stay for a certain number of nights to avail benefits. Privileges include free upgrades, discounts on hotel services, redeemable points for air travel to name a few.
For occasional travelers, it’s best to check in to City hotels on weekends since the occupancy will below. You can request a spacious room or a room with a better view, the hotel will accommodate your request if the requested room is available and your stay is just for the weekend. However, the probability of getting an upgrade to a leisure hotel is low.
TD: How can a family make the most from their stay in a resort?
AL: There are a couple of things they can do
- Research and compare tariffs of resorts and the extras included i.e.meal, discounts on food & beverage, recreational activities, and so on.
- If they are planning a relaxing getaway, I suggest they choose a remote destination for a relaxed and peaceful stay. Resort destinations with local attraction would suit family vacations, so that they can move around and explore more.
- Food will be a major expense apart from your stay. A la carte food in any resort will be expensive hence opt for an all-inclusive package for a family stay which may offer food from a Table d’hote menu or a buffet spread.
TD: What about visiting the local sights. Would it be better to talk to the locals for tips or booking a pre-planned tour?
AL: Preferably a pre-planned tour by the hotel team, but it may cost you extra money. But a planned tour will get you to the best spots with a guide and with safer transportation. On the other hand, you can plan a self-itinerary using online resources to understand the destination, choose a safer and cheaper way to commute.
TD: How can we get better service from the staff?
AL: Be kind and polite to the staff catering to you. Try to remember and refer the staff by their name, this gesture would create a bond and respect in return. Convey to the staff of your specific preference or dietary requirements. For example, thermostat temperature or food without mushrooms, the staff would ensure it is delivered every time without even asking.
If a staff provides exceptional service ensure he/she is recognized by sharing feedback through the Hotel’s Guest satisfaction survey or Travel platforms.
The Future of Tourism
TD: Do you think tourism will come back to the levels it was pre-COVID?
AL: Yes, it certainly will. Pandemic is just a phase and study shows tourism will flourish more than before once it is controlled. Many hotel projects are in pipeline to meet future demand across the world. Undoubtedly, hotels will ensure pandemic safety protocols will be continued to provide the guest’s a safe and memorable stay.
TD: How did you feel about countries opening up to tourism before the vaccine was out? Should they have waited?
AL: Tourism is an integral part of many national economies. Countries open for tourism have put Strict containment measures and safety protocols in place to guarantee a safe journey for tourists. Therefore, it is acceptable for countries to open for tourism. To be out of harm’s way travelers should maintain social distancing and other pandemic safety protocols.
TD: Do you think hotels would offer more perks to attract tourists?
AL: Maximum number of hotels have implemented a wellness program to keep the guest safe and healthy during their stay. Wellness activities may include Yoga session, breathing exercise, Immunity boosting Food & Beverage, etc., these services may or may not be complimentary. Besides, hotels are also declaring their safety protocol so that the travelers are assured a secure stay. At present we can make the most out of the low hotel tariff.
TD: How do you think the tourism industry will evolve once tourism re-starts?
AL: Travel restrictions and containment measures are likely to be in place for longer. Even when the tourism industry starts to function again, businesses will be operating at restricted capacity which means revenue generation will be low. Restrictions are expected to be lifted gradually with the possible occurrence of new pandemic waves.
TD: Would you travel if you were to get vaccinated or would you wait some more time?
AL: I would certainly travel if I get vaccinated given that the destination I’m traveling to and the hotel I’m staying in, follow all safety protocols.
TD: Where would you go and why?
AL: A tropical island country, preferably the Maldives. Considering the fact that the country is an archipelago and you’ll have a reduced risk of coming in contact with people. Moreover, the local authorities are fully confident in the preparation to ensure the safety of all travelers and workers of the tourism sector.
TD: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing some insider tips.
AL: You are welcome and I hope your readers get some value out of this!
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