We have a process we use to book hotels for our trips. The process is time consuming, but we are retired and do have some time to apply to this process. And the results have worked for us very well in the past.
Once we have determined which locations we need hotels in, Murray dives into Trip Advisor and reads and reads and reads and reads. He reads the excellent ratings and the terrible ratings and attempts to decipher the underlying causes for the ratings. It’s surprising how often someone wants 5 star service for a 2 star price. Or how some people blame the hotel for their lack of travel experience and warped idea of how a holiday is supposed to go.
After much time spent in front of the computer, Murray comes up with a short list of hotels he likes and thinks will be funky to stay at. This is where I enter. See, I do not have the patience for all this reading; just give me the short list! I do a quick look at each hotel’s website just to familiarize myself with them. While doing this I make notes on questions we would like to ask.
I then send an email, specific to each destination, to all the hotels on the list. Our questions are different for hotels in Quito than in San Cristobal. The idea of sending emails is to start a conversation with the hotel. We can tell a lot by the responses we receive. Are they friendly? Chatty? Curt? Do they actually answer the questions? We are not impressed with a reply that says “Please see our website for all the information we asked about.” That is not the purpose of this email conversation!!!
I sit down, write a draft email for the Quito hotels, say, and send it to each hotel separately. Sometimes I use their email address and sometimes I to go through their “Contact” page. For this trip I did 3 batches – Quito, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz – with 8, 5 and 4 hotels, respectively. This occupied me for an entire evening.
Here are the email questions we sent to the hotels in Santa Cruz:
My husband and I are traveling to Santa Cruz in mid May. We are looking for a non smoking room with a matrimonial bed and private bathroom for the nights of May 19, 20 and 21.
What is the cost of the room? Is this price per room, or per person in the room? Does the price include the taxes? Does it include breakfast?
Do you accept credit cards and is there a charge for using it?
Are there restaurants close by? How far are you away from the public pier? How far are you away from the bus to the airport?
Thank you for your assistance and we look forward to your reply!
From the response emails, we email back asking a couple of other questions or for a clarification. As we receive the responses, I type the answers into one of my famous spreadsheets so we can analyze the data. Sometimes we do wait days for a response so this part of the process takes about a week. (NB It is good to have friend that can read Spanish as a couple of the responses were in the language of the host country. We DO NOT count this as a negative. We feel it is our job to learn their language but in the mean time our buddy P was a huge help.)
We then choose the hotel we want to stay at and book it. I send out “thank you” email notes to the hotels we do not choose. It is important to be good travel ambassadors and thank folks for spending time with us. And then we are done…… hotels booked!