9. Understand what those online reservation companies do and what the motel can/can’t do.
Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, etc. Many people don’t understand how these companies work. I didn’t the first-and only-time I used one. Many are difficult to comprehend and even after you’re finished, you still may not understand what you’ve done and you may not have received what you wanted. These companies are like anything else – buyer beware. Shop around, because the first ‘deal’ you’re offered, may not be the best. Be very meticulous when making reservations and don’t be afraid to call the, ahem, customer service representative to either make or confirm what you’re trying to accomplish.
When you make the final click to accept the reservation your credit/debit card is almost immediately charged. No elves holding your money, you are charged. Which means later at the motel, you can’t use a discount like AARP or AAA.
You also, with rare exceptions, are not going to be able to make any changes to your reservation when you arrive. This is why I can’t stress enough to know what you’ve done before you’ve completed your reservation with these companies. So many times I’ve seen a reservation from one of these companies show that there is one guest who wants a non-smoking room with one bed. Then the cast of Eight is Enough walks through the door thinking they had two beds or a suite. Now, sometimes, I can change the room type. Sometimes, and usually that is determined by availability. However, if you’ve reserved three nights but are only staying two, I can’t change that. The reservation comes to my screen essentially locked. I can’t cancel that third night. Besides, your card already has been charged for three nights as mentioned above.
The point most guests don’t understand is, the motel never sees any personal information other than your name. We don’t know your address, phone number, what price you paid for the room and, most importantly, we don’t have your credit card. And we didn’t charge your credit card. The online company did. With a rare exception (such as the room type change) no changes can be made at the motel. You have to call the reservation company for any changes or refunds. And, I’m sorry to say, but I wish you good luck.
At check-in, you may be asked for your credit card for what are called incidentals. This is a fancy word for when you decide to party all night and pee on the bed, throw up on the carpet, and destroy the dresser. However, your card won’t be charged for the room as you’ve already paid for it.
As I mentioned, I didn’t know about this the first time I used one of these companies and wound up in an argument with the clerk (who was exasperated in the first place because I dared walk in the door wanting to check into my room and interrupted her television watching). Part of the fault was mine for not understanding the credit card I saw on the registration card was not my card, but the company card that the motel used to charge the company.
An easy solution: call the property directly. You might end up with a better deal and save headaches in the long run.
Swim in the pool, bask in the hot tub, and be back next week for the exciting conclusion.