With all the business travel you do, it may be that you’re spending a quarter or more of your time living out of a hotel room. So how can you make this home away from home a more inviting experience? Here are some hotel survival tips to help make your stay a safe, satisfying and sanitary one.
Room for improvement
Being loyal to a particular hotel brand definitely comes with perks. So take a minute to enroll in the rewards program of your preferred hotel to be treated to exclusive benefits, which may include free nights, room upgrades and/or discounts to spa services and on meals.
Some hotels also offer its guests additional benefits through their mobile app. For instance, by using the Hilton Honors App, guests can select the room they want, skip the line at the front desk by checking in via their mobile device, and even order ahead of time items for the room, like extra pillows or their favorite snack.
Want to secure an early check-in time? It helps to call ahead with such a request. Ask nicely and you shall be more likely to receive. But if it’s an upgrade you’re looking for, then it’s better to check in later in the afternoon so the front desk clerk has a clearer sense of the occupancy rate.
Have to cancel and/or rebook a room because of a delayed flight or some other kind of disruption? The Proactive Traveler Care program offered by American Express Global Business Travel uses cutting-edge technology to monitor travelers and their itineraries in real time, anticipate travel disruptions ahead, and contact to rebook travelers based on their preferences. There is a simple tap-to-call function within the Amex GBT Mobile app that quickly will connect you to a representative who can assist in making last-minute overnight stay arrangements.
We all know about the fiascos that can result when airlines overbook flights. But did you know that hotels have a similar practice to take no-shows into account? They call it “walking a guest” when a hotel is overbooked and it has to put up a traveler with a confirmed reservation at another property.
There’s a good chance you won’t get “walked” yourself (hotels don’t want to offend a guest whose company regularly sends business their way), but here are a few tips to avoid the situation anyhow: First, if your itinerary allows, stay at the hotel for more than one night since those who will be there for less than 24 hours are more likely to be turned away.
Also, try not to check in later than 6 p.m. If that’s unavoidable due to your travel/meeting schedule, call ahead, if possible, to notify the front desk of your late check-in and request that they hold your room.
If you are told there are no rooms available, in your most friendly tone, remind the hotel manager that you are a business traveler and that the hotel is one of your company’s preferred vendors (if true). If that doesn’t do the trick, report the incident to your travel manager immediately so they know where you’ll be spending the night and can take up the matter with the hotel as well.
You may not feel like your safety is at risk when staying in the comfortable confines of a hotel, but things do happen, so here are a few tips to keep in mind:
If among the company-approved options, select a property that has modern security, such as electronic locks with automatically changing combinations and elevators that require key entry to guest floors.
As we outlined in a recent Atlas article on female traveler safety, you also should request a room with an interior entrance above the ground floor. Rooms on the fourth to sixth floors are ideal. They are high enough that they are not accessible to burglars but low enough that they can be reached by fire truck ladders.
During check-in, if the desk clerk says your room number within the earshot of others, discreetly ask for a new room and have the clerk write down the number on a piece of paper.
And while at the front desk, grab a hotel business card to stow in your wallet so you always have the hotel’s address and phone number while out and about.
Before settling into your room, check that the locks are working properly and hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your door. Leave it there during your entire stay so the room never looks unoccupied.
Keeping it clean
Your room may appear spick-and-span, but looks can be deceiving. Even in the nicest five-star hotels, certain germs — such as cold viruses, e coli, staph and MRSA (a highly contagious bacterium) — may be lurking in certain crevices that are not regularly wiped down.
To protect yourself against these microorganisms that are invisible to the naked eye, bring along a travel-size packet of antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer that you can squirt on a washcloth.
The first areas to sanitize: doorknobs, light switches, the telephone, alarm clock, ice bucket and, what is usually the dirtiest of them all, the remote control. (Another idea: Put the remote control in a Ziploc® baggie and use it like that.) Next, hit the bathroom and give it a quick wipe down, including the shower floor and sink faucets.
In addition to pulling down the germ-ridden bedspread (such bedding only may get washed every few months), take a moment to peel back the sheets and inspect your mattress for little reddish-brown spots — evidence of bedbugs. Because bedbugs are attracted to heat, aim a hairdryer at the mattress to draw any of those little buggers who’ve burrowed themselves deep.
Because pillows are probably washed as infrequently as the bedspread — and may spend a lot of time on the floor — you may just consider bringing your own.
And whatever you do: Do not drink from the drinking glasses or coffee mugs in the room before thoroughly cleaning them yourself. They often are not properly sterilized, if they’ve been cleaned at all.