Does it seem as if every time you look around on the internet for a hotel room, you find more websites that say you can get a hotel room for less?

Though it may sound enticing, online hotel booking has its own set of challenges.

An online discount hotel booking website should provide the following basic things:

  • Offer real time hotel room booking
  • Allow date amendments and cancellations online
  • Rates should clearly indicate what currency is being quoted, whether the rate is per person or per room, and what is and what is not included in the rate, and, if taxes are not included, how much they will be

The location information of the hotel should be listed on the hotel description page.

  • This can help identify the distance from the hotel to certain landmarks or the airport
  • All the information regarding the hotel (such as facilities and rates) should be located on each hotel's web page
  • Pictures of the hotel
  • Star quality rating, consumer ratings with consumer reviews

Does the online hotel booking site have a membership program that offers reward points and privileges?

Checklist before and after you book a hotel room online.

If you follow this checklist, you're less likely to have nasty surprises in store for you:

Have you seen the hotel on a map, and do you understand the exact location?
Do you know what the rate is, which currency it is quoted in, whether this rate is per person or per room, per night or per complete stay?

Do you understand the standard/quality of the hotel?

Does the rate include everything or are taxes, surcharges, gratuities, service fees, etc, extra? How much are such extra costs if they exist? Are there any other mandatory costs that you might have to pay?

Are there any extra inclusions such as breakfast, and, if so, is it a cooked or continental breakfast?

Do you understand what room type and bedding configuration you will be getting?

Is your reservation guaranteed? Will it be held for late arrival?

What is the change, cancellation and refund policy if you need to change or cancel your booking?

Did the credit card number you gave to the internet booking service merely guarantee your room, or did they charge a deposit (or even the full stay) at the time you made your booking to the credit card?

You may contact the hotel directly 24 hours after you’ve made your online booking, to confirm that the booking has appeared in their local computer system.

You may also check with them to see if the booking is the same as you have made in terms of room type, room rate, dates, etc.

If you have any special needs or requirements or expectations, you should double check with the hotel directly that these special service requests have been received by them and are understood and will be provided.

Most importantly, if you prepaid any amounts to the internet website, confirm that you won't be billed again by the hotel directly. Remember that most internet websites are completely independent of the hotels they service and could be located anywhere in the world; once they get your money; there is no guarantee that they will pass it on to the hotel in time for your stay.

Author: Chloe Lim

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