Saving Money

The Trouble With Hotel Reservation Lines

hotel reservation, hotel reservation lines, hotels


In celebration of my son’s 16th birthday, as well as another very successful quarter of high school, we wanted to reward him. We allowed him to pick a few friends to take with us on an overnight stay to a nearby hotel with a large indoor water park.  After scouring the hotel’s web page, she called to get additional information about rooms and pricing.

She was transferred to the hotel chain’s reservation line, and after much discussion booked a room that had a large living area where our son and his friends could sleep, hang out, and play video games as well as a separate bedroom for us. Additionally, we were told the room was adjacent to the water park, so our room had a balcony that overlooked the park. It was perfect.

Unfortunately, when we checked in the room was missing one of the features.

After unloading, the rest of the group head up to the room with the luggage cart while I parked the van. When I walked in the door I could hear my wife was on the phone with someone. My son intercepted me and said, “We’re moving, this room doesn’t overlook the water park.” Listening to one side of my wife’s phone conversation, it was becoming obvious that someone had been mistaken, and there were no rooms with the layout we selected that overlooked the water park.

Our experience resulted in an update to our usual hotel room investigation methodology:

Call the reservation line: When making a reservation, you’re typically pushed to their reservation line. This is a good place to start. Ask for information about room types, and pricing.

Ask for discount opportunities: Ask if they’re running any specials, or if they give discounts for any memberships or offer any corporate rates. In this case we were told about a Slumber Party Package that came with the room, passes to the water park, pizza delivered to the room, and an in-room movie.

Call the hotel directly: The reservation line representative was likely not even in the same state as the hotel you’re booking a room in. While you would hope that their information would be correct, as we found out it may not be. If I book through the reservation line, I call the actual hotel to verify the details I was given. I also ask if they can send me an email with my reservation details, including any special notes, such as “overlooking water park.”

Ask for discount opportunities: More than once I’ve been surprised to be offered different rates and discounts between the reservation line and the actual hotel. Most of the time the rate is the same, but sometimes one of them is better than the other. It never hurts to ask!

This methodology has a couple of advantages:

  • Provides a better opportunity to get the best deal you can
  • Provides the best probability that you’ll get exactly what you were promised
  • Provides evidence to help you get a discount, or additional perk if what was promised was not delivered.

In this case, even though we did not have in writing what we were promised, the hotel representative my wife talked to did do her best to resolve the mix up. She offered us free breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The breakfast buffet was $13 a piece, multiplied by 6 people totals a $78 value they gave us for our trouble.

Personally, I thought that was better than a balcony overlooking the water park anyway.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Have you ever been promised something when making a hotel reservation only to find that the hotel couldn’t deliver? How did they make it up to you?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin

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