Video Credit: The Wise Traveller
Much to a traveller's dismay, extra fees are just like little minions that appear unannounced and unwanted on your final hotel bill.
The amount you paid for the hotel room fades into insignificance compared to the costs incurred whilst in situ at the hotel. From that room service pig out to letting the kids watch their favourite movie, they all add up on the day of reckoning.
Hotels, desperate to increase their bottom lines, seem to have a "no holds barred" approach when it comes to charging for so-called extras. It is now estimated that at least 75 per cent of hotel guests are paying well above the price they have initially paid for their room.
One reason why cruises are seeing resurgence on the holiday market is because of their one up-front cost, which includes everything, so there are no nasty surprises at the end of the holiday.
Read on for a few pointers on how to avoid the post-holiday debt blues.
Hotel Loyalty Programs
Plan ahead and join a hotel loyalty program where items such as Wi-Fi, car parking, upgrades, early check-in, late departure and other small amenities that add up on your final bill, are on the "true" complimentary list.
Use Your Brain
Never book a hotel in a hurry on the Internet despite the little icon popping up that it is the last room to be had at that price. The Internet gremlins want you to panic at the prospect of missing out on that bargain-basement price. This way you don't have time to check exactly what is actually included.
Check the price against the hotel's own website, or better yet ring the hotel direct, not the generic toll-free number, but the actual hotel you wish to stay at. Quiz them on what is included in the price. Even allude to the price on the Internet that you are looking at. Ask for a room at the same price as on the Internet and glean what you can get included for that amount. Test your negotiation skills for a few extras to be thrown in, and always ensure that you make a note of whom you made the booking with and time and date for referral on arrival at the hotel.
Read the Fine Print - GST and Staff Gratuities
Don't forget the government always wants its clip of the money action, so whenever costing a room, include any taxes into the base price. Staff gratuities are another little foil to ensure that the staff members do receive tips. So don't tip twice and big note yourself around the hotel in an attempt to get better service, unless you really do have cash to flash around. You will just be doubling up on the tipping when you pay to leave.
- Don't indulge in the mini bar or room service unless your thirst and hunger are derived from being lost in the desert for months on end, or someone else is paying.
- Use your own mobile phone if you want to make a telephone call, or better yet, just send a text. If you don’t already use them, try Skype or Facetime using Wi-Fi.
- If you are going on a bender the night before your 10am check-out, use your charms and persuade reception to give you a late check-out prior to indulging, or failing that, ensure you have an ultra-loud alarm clock. That extra hour in bed may cost you a small fortune.
- Don't be in a rush when checking out and go through your account properly. Query anything that you do not agree with.
- If you have to sit in the public areas of the hotel to use the Internet, do so. In the process be friendly and chat to the staff, and they may waive the fee for you to have it in your room out of courtesy. Or find a local cafe with free Wi-Fi.
- Be totally aware of the hotel's cancellation policy before booking it.
- If you hire a car, make sure the hotel has parking available and what the cost is. Compare that price to hiring a vehicle and a driver for a day.
- Always leave your pool towel at the pool area.
- Check if the gym, fitness or business centres incur charges. Do this before you book the hotel if you want access to any of these amenities and lay on the charm when booking to see if you can include these amenities in your daily tariff.
Above all, know your rights as a hotel guest. All hotel fees under law require to be disclosed which is usually in the fine print that we all ignore on check-in.