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To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Southlake, Texas
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545 posts
60 reviews
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To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

My sister in law drives me NUTS. She's British and is a huge fan of the prepaid vacation. I thought she was just an anomaly until I started vacationing with different people from the UK - they all LOVE to pre-pay their vacations!!

If they saved substantial amounts of money on their holidays I could get behind the prepay deal, but they don't. I usually do much better booking everything separately myself. And many times we wind up at different hotels because I won't book into the dumps they wind up with!

This drives me crazy. I spent 10 years working in hotels, mostly at the front desk, and let me tell you this: when we saw a voucher hit the desk, or saw "prepaid" stamped on the registration card, we stuck those people in the worst rooms we had. If they really complained, we would move them, but they usually didn't. Why did we do it? Because we already had their money and they weren't going to check out and go somewhere else.

Please, friends, help me understand this phenomenon. It is a recipe for disaster in my book, but maybe I'm wrong. Why is the prepaid holiday so entrenched? And how do we pull our unwitting brothers and sisters out of the hole? Or am I just plain wrong?

Salem, Oregon
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5,414 posts
14 reviews
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11. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Bofoster,what is AE rate?

Scottsdale, AZ
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20 posts
1 review
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12. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Ouch! The customer service you and your colleagues performed really would be a problem for me. Your way of handling customers that prepay is wrong and very tacky. I hope I don't stay at any of the hotels you are responsible for. I think prepay is good and should be a requirement to prevent your room from being given to someone else who chose to prepay. I booked a trip to London recently and I spent about 500.00 less doing a prepay vacation and got a pretty nice hotel along with it. Think about the prepay as it may be beneficial and time saving then trying to shop all over to get a good deal. There are other things like taxes, etc that can make a so call bargain less of one when you add everything up.

Eranstop

Fremantle, Australia
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658 posts
6 reviews
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13. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Wow, from my experience you are just plain wrong. Though I like to wing it as far as intra-city/town travel is concerned, in recent years, I've done several overseas hotel/B&B bookings via the web, based on good advice from websites such as this one. Pre-paying accommodation generally saves me substantially and in all but one case the properties have been totally up to expectations.

London
9 posts
1 review
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14. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Depends on the kind of rate your paying if it has to be booked in advance they will be offering you a cheaper rate which you will need to prepay but may have a cancelation charge.

i

canada
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7,580 posts
10 reviews
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15. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

AE rate....using the American Express card/travel services.

Watford
Destination Expert
for London
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41,003 posts
44 reviews
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16. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Most large hotel chains now work in a similar manner to the airline industry in operating yield management which in practise means selling more rooms then they have.

On some days this means it is possible that may have to book out clients. It is only business sense/human nature (delete where applicable!!) to book out or allocate the worst rooms to those who have paid the least which often means those who have pre paid via a third party.

I would always suggest contacting the hotel a few days (but no more) before your arrival confirming your arrival time and maybe asking for a particular type of room (non smoking) or requesting a service such as flowers for an anniversary. This allows you to double check your booking as well as flag up any possible problems and react accordingly.

Peace of mind for the cost of a telephone call or e-mail.

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17. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Adam is quite right.

The value of a "pre pay" client to a hotel is going to be influenced by who they have pre-paid to (hotel vs third party), aswell as at what rate. As in my previous posting, I find hotels increasingly seem to appreciate the value of the third party associate and their respective clients but, as you say, it's a good tip to ring and query ahead if you're concerned. Most hotels look kindly upon a polite enquiry beforehand/nice people/ an anniversary !!

And, when (and if) it comes to being "booked out" some people can really strike it lucky !

Southlake, Texas
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545 posts
60 reviews
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18. Re: To prepay or not to prepay, that is the question.

Gosh, I didn't mean to sound as horrible as I did, but looking back I see that my comment "worst rooms we had" does look pretty bad!

Our worst rooms were much better than the best rooms at many hotels - the two properties where this was the POLICY (not my personal choice) were a 4 Diamond and 5 Diamond. When I say "worst rooms," to me that means smoking twins on a low floor. These were not rat-infested, saggy mattress rooms, they were just the least desirable; say, overlooking a parking lot or air conditioning unit, not a stellar view of downtown. The decor was the same, the service the same, they were just smaller rooms, by the elevator or ice machine, that sort of thing. We didn't sneer at them, we weren't Basil Fawlty-esque, they just did not get the best rooms!

One of the first things we did each day was go through arrivals , looking at their rates and codes. VIPs were assigned first, to best rooms. Next came rack and important corporate rates, then people on HOTEL SOLD packages (honeymooners, etc), and anyone who had an amenity (champagne, hotel gift). If we were running at a high occupancy, we would then assign the prepaids and anyone who was at a low rate (Entertainment coupons, super-low corporate rates) to less desirable rooms, and leave the rest of the arrivals unassigned so we could pull their rooms from open inventory. If the day was wide open and we were at lower occupancy then we wouldn't assign anyone below rack rates and packages/amenity folks, so everyone had a fair shot at a good room.

The property at which this was a very entrenched policy was running 90%+ occupancy rates all year (except Christmas), as it is attached to a huge shopping mall and is one of the most popular convention properties in the area. The hotel ran so full that the owners would not renovate it because they were making premium prices just by location, location, location. It drove me mad, and was one of the reasons I left to leave that particular hotel.

This was before the days of Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire, though, so the growing prevalence of prepaid reservations via these sites may have changed the policies of those hotels, but I doubt it. As I said in my original post, I checked into the same hotels with people on a package and I always notice they are by the elevator, on a low floor, they have twins and I have a king, etc. They may not notice, but I do.

All this said, it's amazing what just being NICE to your check-in agent can accomplish; I wish more people would recognize that the person checking you in to your hotel holds a lot of power! I cannot remember the number of times I had a real self-important jerk barking at me to make sure he got an upgrade, not realizing that if he was just pleasant and chatted nicely to me he probably would get an upgrade just because that's the room I would assign! Instead, he would get twins or an ice-machine room, and the lovely grandpa and granny coming to visit their family would get the junior suite. Intimidation gets you nowhere, they can see the room inventory and you can't. Be patient, pleasant, and tell them how excited you are about being in that city / that hotel / it's your vacation / birthday / anniversary, and you'd be surprised what might happen. People don't apply for customer service jobs in hotels unless they have some affinity for making people happy, but then they endure endless abuse from rude people! Be the exception, and you won't just make their day, you might just make your own.

I know that no one on this board would ever be so rude. :-)