1. Do Your Research
When you call a hotel to make a reservation, you should already have done your research. Thats the first step taught in negotiations skills training. You should already have checked the online rate. Since there are no humans involved, the rate is often lower. You can also get commentary online with websites such as TripAdvisor or recommendations from guide books. Find our how many stars it has. When you do ask for the rate, find out what discounts you can use? Senior of Auto Club discount or other loyalty clubs? Ask if there are any weekend or special rates. When given the rate, ask if they are any lower rates available. Call more than once to see if you get different quotes. If you see an offer that seems too good to be true, book it immediately because it probably will not be there the next time you try.
2. Only Negotiate With Someone With Authority
When looking for a good rate, it is usually better to deal directly with the front desk instead of online or through the hotels web sites. Individual hotel managers have authority to be more flexible in their rates, especially later in the day. Heads in beds are better than an empty bed. The online rates usually cannot be altered. You should also check rates at nearby hotels and comparable hotels. If you are not quoted a good rate, you can point out what their competitors' rates are. Show that you are prepared to walk away and go next door if necessary. Thats a basic of negotiations skills training.
If you have a problem or issue after you have checked into a hotel, go to the front desk and ask to see the manager. Again, this is usually the only person who can waive policies and do something for you such as a free night or an upgrade for the inconvenience you may have suffered for a noisy or a dirty room.
3. If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get
I think this is the most important rule. My mother says, "The worst thing that can happen is that they say 'no'." First you have to ask the right questions. Is this the best you can do? Do you have any specials? Can you give me an upgrade? "
You don't really have to have a problem to ask for something better. I was traveling with my son, his wife, my grandson and my dog. Our room at a chain hotel had one bed, one pull-out couch and one bathroom. I knew we were going to be cramped and I probably should have booked two separate rooms. I went to the front desk and told them the situation and they gave me a suite which had two bathrooms and two bedrooms with a sitting area for the same cost. Everyone was more comfortable and we will always have good feelings about that chain. It was definitely a win-win result. It was a great result of my negotiations skills training.
4. Keep Track of the Paperwork.
Once you get your reservation, get the name of the reservationist and the reservation number. If you made your reservation via phone, ask them to send you an email so you have the proof to take with you. If someone else is making the reservation for you, such as a job interview, always call ahead and make sure the reservation is confirmed. I had this happen to me. The hotel reservation had been cancelled because the company had not confirmed the reservation. Luckily they had a room available, but now I always call ahead and make sure the reservation is still good. You can also use this negotiations skills training to see if the rate has changed. If the rate is lower, ask for a reduction or cancel the existing reservation and make a new one.
5. Write Down The Names of all Staff Encountered
This may sound a little paranoid, but sometimes something will be noticed after you have left the hotel and knowing the names of the hotel employees will be crucial. I stayed in a hotel this summer and discovered four hours after checking out that the valet who parked our van had scraped the top of the van in the garage facility without letting anyone know. I only noticed it because we were parked at a rest stop two hundred miles away and looked down at the van and noticed the damage. At that point, I contacted the hotel and explained the situation. It really helped that I had the name of the valet who had driven the car. We had even given him a tip that morning because we did not have cash earlier. I asked how to file a complaint and who to contact. I was given the Human Resources representative who had their insurance rep call us. When I got the online survey, I put all the information about the damage to the car and our disappointment that an employee would not inform us about the damage. We got an estimate (over $1000) and luckily their insurance company paid it. If we did not have the name of the employee, I am not sure we would have the same result. Our negotiations skills training really paid off.
6. Write a Letter to the Hotel Manager or CEO if There are Unresolved Complaints.
If there are any problems at the hotel, keep copious notes of what went wrong, when it went wrong, and the names of the employees who helped you and those who did not help you resolve it. This is very important because those details can be very fuzzy if you do not write them down when the incident happens. If you don't have time to write it all down, do it on your flight home or as soon as possible. This will help you later on if you decide to file a complaint or write a letter to the president. Your letter will be very professional if you have all your facts and times straight.
Many hotels are very customer service oriented and welcome comments. Some will even send you an online survey to ask how your stay was. If there were problems, this is a good opportunity to say why you were upset and what you would like to remedy the situation. If you don't get a survey, send a letter to the Hotel Manager with exactly what happened. Be sure to say what you want (see Rule 3 above). If you don't get an answer, send a letter to the CEO of the company. If you follow these rules, your negotiations skills training will have you Negotiating Like A Pro.