Hotel Travel Tips

In the hotel business, loyalty still has its rewards: free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes, and spa discounts are among the perks you receive for joining Fairmont’s free Presidents Club program.

That’s just one of the tips and tricks we’ve compiled that will improve your next hotel stay—and before you even arrive. Some are easy adjustments to your travel habits like bringing your own bottled water or checking in later in the day when managers have a better sense of their inventory and will be more open to a spontaneous upgrade.

Other hotel strategies involve taking advantage of tools that do the research for you. Hipmunk’s new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival. And online service Tingo will automatically rebook you at a lower price if your room rate drops.

Now that’s the peace of mind that sets you well on your way to a good hotel night’s sleep.

For the complete list of 100 ways to travel better, check out T+L’s December issue and tablet editions.

Edited by Brooke Porter, Nikki Ekstein, Amy Farley, and Jennifer Flowers. With reporting by Peter Schlesinger and Bree Sposato.

Don’t be a Stranger

Hotel Tips: Don’t be a Stranger

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Staying in touch pays off: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts posts giveaway contests on its Facebook page (a recent prize: a private party at London’s Abbey Road Studios). Starwood offers bonus points for checking in via Foursquare or Facebook.

Introduce Yourself

Hotel Tips: Introduce Yourself

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On Facebook and Twitter, mentioning a hotel may lead to a more customized experience. For example, a traveler who recently included Hilton in a tweet about his grueling cross-country drive was welcomed with a room upgrade.

Get Personal

Hotel Tips: Get Personal

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If you need a timely response on a customer service issue, sharing the story or even posting a photo can get you a quick answer. Be sure to use direct channels (an @reply tweet on a hotel’s Twitter handle, or a direct message on Facebook).

Ask for Advice

Hotel Tips: Ask for Advice

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Hilton’s @HiltonSuggests Twitter handle doubles as a concierge: send requests for local tips, and you’ll get a personalized reply from a team of worldwide contributors. Four Seasons’ Pinterest board lets guests create a custom itinerary with local experts before they arrive.

Consult the Algorithm

Hotel Travel Tips: TheSuitest

COURTESY OF THESUITEST

New website TheSuitest has a Hotel Time Machine that predicts the average room rate in a destination six months out, making it easy to see when rooms will be at their most affordable.

Track the Hotel Rate

Hotel Travel Tips: Tingo

COURTESY OF TINGO

Book with online service Tingo, which will automatically rebook you at the lower price if your room rate drops.

Bundle Your Room with Your Airfare

Hotel Travel Tips: Bundle Room with Airfare

COURTESY OF ORBITZ

Hotels drop rates when they can disguise them in travel packages offered by websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz.

Pick a Card

Hotel Travel Tips: Cardhub

COURTESY OF CARDHUB

If you want to stockpile airline miles and hotel points, finding the right travel-rewards credit card is key. Compare your options on the websites Nerdwallet and Cardhub. Both offer comprehensive card comparisons and sound advice on maximizing benefits.

Take a Calculated Hotel Gamble

Hotel Travel Tips: HotelTonight

COURTESY OF HOTELTONIGHT

Turns out HotelTonight, the pioneer of same-day mobile bookings, partners with select hotels in each destination so it can guarantee availability. Check the app leading up to your trip to get a sense of what will be on offer in your destination. Then be quick on the draw the day of: deals go up at noon each day.

Look For Unsold Rooms

Hotel Travel Tips: Hipmunk

COURTESY OF HIPMUNK

Don’t want to cut it too close? Hipmunk’s new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival.

Avoid Hotel Wi-Fi Fees

Hotel Travel Tips: Tether

COURTESY OF TETHER

International: Mi-Fi hot spots, such as Verizon’s Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi (from $49.99 with a two-year contract), provide a set amount of data for a fixed monthly price. Don’t want an annual contract? Boingo Wireless offers access to more than 700,000 hot spots worldwide for as little as $7.95 a month.

Domestic: Android users can tether their phones’ 3G to their laptop with the free app FoxFi; for everyone else, Tether ($29.95 per year) will connect a laptop to a mobile device via Bluetooth or USB.

Show a Hotel Brand Your Loyalty

Hotel Travel Tips: loyalty programs

PHILIP TOLEDANO

Omni Select Guest: Free Wi-Fi, shoeshine, daily coffee delivery, last-minute discounts

Preferred iPrefer: Free Wi-Fi, late checkout, space-available upgrade

Fairmont’s Presidents Club: Free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes, newspaper delivery, spa discounts

IHG Rewards Club: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery

Club Carlson: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant discounts

Kimpton Intouch: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery, mini-bar and hotel bar vouchers, spa credits

Small Luxury Hotels of the World: Automatic upgrade, breakfast for two after one stay

Tip Like a Pro

Hotel Travel Tips: tip like a pro

Change your bills into smaller denominations right as you check in to your hotel. That way you won’t be left empty-handed when the bellman arrives with your bags.

Get a Room Upgrade

Hotel Travel Tips: Room Upgrade

Be Nice: Front desk agents are usually empowered to change a guest’s room at their discretion. A little smile can go a long way.

Stay at a New Hotel: Recently opened properties may not be as full, and have an added incentive to court return guests.

Be a Regular: Hotels prioritize guests who are frequent visitors. If you are often in the city, be sure to let them know.

Check in Later in the Day: Hotel managers have a better sense of their open inventory as the day goes on, and will be more amenable to a spontaneous upgrade.

Say “Thank You”: If you had a great stay, let the hotel know in writing or via social media. The compliment may be repaid on your next visit.

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