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Consumer Reports Surveys Readers About Hotel Chains

Posted June 21, 2007

Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers about 48 hotel chains.

Among other findings, it discovered that many hotels are adding new fees. For instance, some hotels now charge for maid service and more.

“You can pay upwards of $30 or more per day if a facility has a golf course, tennis courts, hiking trail – whether or not you bother to use them,” said Tod Marks, with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found travel sites like Expedia.com and Travelocity aren't the bargains they used to be. That's because hotels don't sell rooms to the sites at fire-sale prices, and hotel chains are now using sophisticated software to track whether a hotel is full so they can adjust their prices accordingly.

“Generally, these fine adjustments work against the consumer, because it probably means bargains are less likely to be had,” Marks said.

With fewer bargains, it's more important than ever to be happy with your hotel. To help your chances, Consumer Reports surveyed 35,000 readers about 48 hotel chains.

The Ritz Carlton had top scores for service and value and was one of the highest-rated chains among the most expensive hotels. Homewood Suites and Springhill Suites are high rated, as were many all-suite hotels.

Hampton Inn and Drury Inn/Suites were among several described as a good choice in the $60-$100 a night price range ― where the survey revealed the biggest differences in satisfaction.

As for ways to get a better deal, Marks suggests that consumers haggle with the desk clerk or hotel manager.

“A majority of readers we surveyed who try these tactics were successful,” he said.

Consumer Reports' survey also found that people who arrived at a hotel with no reservation actually paid less than those who made reservations in advance.

When booking a hotel room, make sure to ask for the lowest rate. It's usually the "corporate rate." Otherwise, you could pay more than you have to.

12 Comments

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  • At Work Jun 23, 2007

    I have had issues with the hilton after paying $30.00 plus tip for room service we got hair with our pie and old lipstick stains on our water glass's!!

  • this is my Screen Name Jun 23, 2007

    I have never ever found Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and such to have cheaper prices than the actual airline or hotels. As a matter of fact, I usually find them more expensive, even if it's a dollar or so. It's a shame that we have to haggle for a night's stay at a reasonable price. Remember when $25 a night was considered outrageously expensive?

  • choirgirl Jun 22, 2007

    Be careful with the amenities also. We just stayed at a Quality Inn. They said they had a lake front property, well, they had 12 feet and a swamp in front of it. They claimed to have a playground - it was a swingset! The pool was small and the jacuzzi had seen better days. Luckily, the room was exactly what we wanted - a kids suite - where they had their own room and bathroom separate from ours. And the maid service was by far the best I've ever had to include a few 4 star hotels. You just never know what you're gonna get sometimes, unless you've already been or someone you know has just been. Some hotels change in a matter of months. I'm just thankful that our vacation wasn't centered around the "resort" that they titled themselves and charged $1 a day extra for!

  • katgoesloco Jun 22, 2007

    Thanks for these great tips!

    I agree with the article that Hampton Inns are usually a good choice for a low-medium priced hotel if you don't know the area.

  • Harry Canyon Jun 22, 2007

    Personally I like Uncle Bernies Cold Beer and Wet T-shirt Inn.It's a little bit south of Margarittaville.But it's well worth the extra travel.Look it up on the map it's just east of Parrothead cove.

  • Johnny Da Lounge Jun 22, 2007

    Remember to take a UV light, then ask em about their maid service. I would ask them up front, in a carrying voice, "Are there any extra fees that you aren't telling me about?", See what they say infront of other customers around you.

  • Spring Jun 22, 2007

    We have always been pleased with the Jameson Inn - consistently clean,low cost (around $95), and nice staff. They are located conveniently to I-95 also..good for a 1/2way break to Disney or Cruise Ship ports in Florida. Last weekend, we stayed at the over-priced Hilton (Cape Fear River) in Wilmington. $200 per room per night plus an additional $9 for parking. Really-- shouldn't the parking pass come WITH the price of the room? The room was okay; nothing to be thrilled about. Our room in the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton Va was $100 for a weekend night and it was much nicer than the Hilton. And absolutely beautiful at Christmas...recently renovated...just a wonderful classic. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling through that area.

  • CClvsDC Jun 22, 2007

    The reason Travelocity's rate was so much cheaper is the hotel sold the room to them at what we would consider a Whole Sale price. You paid more because you used Travelocity's web site and they tack on tons of fees like those of a Travel Agent. You probably still wouldn't have been able to get the same price but it might have been cheaper than what you paid.

  • CClvsDC Jun 22, 2007

    I worked in Hotel's for over 4 years. Not every desk clerk can give a "special rate" but usally they can find some type of "discount" they can give you. Many company's have "special rates" for employee's so ask then if they have one for your company. If you know you are going to need a room and you don't want to make a reservation make sure there is nothing specail going on in that area. Hotel staff can not build a room at the drop of a hat just because you can't find a room. "Walk in guests" are great for off season locations like on the beach in the fall or winter and so on. And Always make sure you sign up for whatever membership they offer because you may get a great promo rate. I hope this can help... :)

  • mep Jun 22, 2007

    I used Travelocity to book a nice hotel in Norfolk.
    When checking out, I was surprised when they handed me a bill. I looked at it, and the rate on the bill was MUCH MUCH less than what I had already paid Travelocity. I explained this to the manager and he took back the bill. Travelocity did not refund me the difference.

    Bottom line: Dont expect to get the best rate when booking on-line. Take a chance and show up without a reservation. Ask for the best rate, then do some quick checking around at other nearby hotels. Usually if the manager knows your walking out to do this, he will give you a good rate to keep you there.

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