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Checking In to the Hotel

This photo shows a man and woman being assisted by a front desk clerk while checking in to a hotel.

Mention your points club and there could be free perks.

Here’s how to make the hotel check in process go smoothly, even if you’re tired and grumpy.

Check in time for most hotels is around 4 pm. If you’re going to be late by a couple of hours, call or text them and let them know, even if you reserved the room with a credit card. They’ll appreciate it and you can rest assured they’ll hold the room for you.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I give the outside of the place a once over. I eyeball the condition of the building, to see if it is well maintained and the gardening has been done.

I’ve learned over the years, that when it comes to hotels, you really can judge a book by its cover in most cases. If they take pride and care in the appearance and landscaping, the rest is usually in order.

I check for outside lighting and try to park under a street light, or in view of a surveillance camera if possible. That way, my car is less likely to be broken in to, if such a thing happens that day, or during the night.

If the hotel looks a little shabby from the outside, the only thing I bring with me at check in time, is my backpack with the computer in it. I want to inspect the room before I accept it, which I cover in detail in the next section. If the hotel looks great from the outside, or if it’s a new building, the wife and I bring in both luggage sets.

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Now, chances are, you’ve had a long day of driving and sight seeing. You might be a little tired and grumpy. The front desk clerk has been dealing with all sorts of tired and grumpy people all day long, so they might be a little persnickety as well.

This is when you need to smile like you mean it, because it tricks your mind into thinking its happy. Plus, when you lead with a smile and a positive attitude, the world smiles back. (Trust me on that one.)

Greet the clerk with eye contact and a big hello. Tell them that you are checking in and give your name. When they confirm your name, ask them if it would be possible to see the room first.

Like I said, I don’t always do this. If I’m going into a nice looking place, or some four star place like Crown Plaza, I don’t bother. However, if the only hotel I could reserve in the town was some two star joint, I’m definitely checking the room, before I accept it.

I’ve never been refused a look at the room. Some clerks have fussed a bit, but I tell them that it’s less of a hassle for both of us. It’s easier than checking us in and perhaps having to change rooms, or heaven forbid, cancel the reservation because of black mold on the curtains, or some other health concern.

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Once you’ve inspected the room and it passes muster, or if you’ve decided not to inspect it, you can proceed with the reservation. If you used an auto association card like AAA, CAA, to get a special room rate, have the card ready to show them. You’ll also need a photo ID and the credit card that you used to reserve the room.

Hotels often place a $100 a day hold, block, or reserve, on your credit card, in addition to the room rate. This acts as a security deposit, ensuring that they’ll get paid for things like room service. They just want to be sure you have enough credit available. But they should tell you in advance if they do this, and each day’s hold should be removed after 24 hours.

Finally, during the chit chat, inform the clerk that you are a points club member of IHG, Best Western, or whatever chain it happens to be. Also inform them of your silver or gold member status.

All chains love to have loyal customers. By mentioning the club, you might get a fresh baked cookie, soda, or some other complimentary upgrade because of it.

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