I check my voicemail this morning only to find this "concerned" call from my client Dr Geoff...
UH, Hi Sally - This is Geoff and we're all excited about our vacation to St. Lucia. We're leaving in two days. I called the resort to make sure they have a crib in the room for us when we get there. When I called, the hotel said they have NO record of our reservation. I hope everything is OK? Can you please call them and then call me back and let me know ASAP. i'm REALLY worried that we have a problem...thanks!
Now I feel REALLY bad!
I had already noted his request for a crib on his reservation. I had also emailed the concierge at the resort as a follow up. What I forgot was to explain to Dr. Geoff how hotel reservations work and that was my bad. He works so hard keeping kids happy and healthy. His hotel reservation and vacation are perfectly fine despite what the hotel told him. Last thing I ever wanted to do is stress him out.
So Dr. Geoff.... this post is for you! (and everyone else) who may wonder WHY a hotel has no record of them even though they have a paid reservation.....
I've written before about Why you should NOT make reservations directly with a hotel. There are risks involved here. Many hotels, especially those in popular tourist spots "play the odds". They purposely overbook rooms to keep their profits high. Guests, particularly those who pay the lowest rates, run the risk of being "bumped" to a different hotel. Hopefully your accommodations will be comparable and satisfactory, but not always. Thanks to all that fine print legaleze on the bottom of your confirmation, often there is very little guests can do about it.
For this reason, most savvy travel agents will work with large wholesale tour companies when we make hotel reservations for our clients. Why?....Clout and buying power. Hoteliers may not care if they bump you and your family. They do care about jeopardizing the relationship with a major distribution partner that brings them millions of dollars in annual revenue.
Travel wholesalers and tour companies help to keep hoteliers in check. If a hotelier is consistently bumping guests and causing problems for a wholesaler, they will stop selling a particular hotel or even an entire chain of hotels. If a guest arrives and for some reason receives a lesser category room than what they paid for, the tour companies have local reps who step in, mediate and fix the problem. They are an extra layer of protection for our guests to insure they receive the hotel experience they imagined.
In fairness, sometimes bad things can happen to REALLY good hotels too. Even in these situations, wholesale tour companies step in an help our guests. I remember one Christmas when the water pump broke at one of our really great, preferred family hotels. The hotel was at capacity and they had NO water to any of the guest rooms. The tour company stepped in and used it's relationships with hundreds of other hotels in the area. All of our guests were moved and upgraded. One of our families with 4 kids that had paid for guaranteed connecting rooms ended up in a 3 bedroom presidential suite!
Sorry I digress, back to Dr. Geoff and what this all means for him...
Tour companies are given "allotments" of rooms to sell by each hotel. A tour company may be given 100 rooms to sell at this hotel, 25 rooms for another resort and so on. When I booked Dr. Geoff's hotel room, he was given a confirmation number and invoice from the wholesale tour company. When we use that number to pull up his reservation with the tour company, it shows Dr. Geoff's entire itinerary...his flights, transportation and hotel room, proof of his payments the works. This is what he has paid for and this is the vacation he confirmed.
In turn, the wholesale tour company simply reports numbers to the hotel...."this week we sold 35 rooms out of our 100 room allotment". No names or details are given. Hotel sales departments and room managers just see they need to block one room for 3 people, another for 4 and so on. The tour company DOES receive a specific confirmation on each room when guest names have been assigned. (and a separate confirmation number from airlines as well). Guest names aren't sent over to the hotel until the very last minute. Some hotels take their time assigning names to THEIR reservation numbers and putting it in their own hotel reservation systems for employees to see.
When Dr. Geoff called the front desk at the resort and gave them his confirmation number from the tour company, the front desk said..."We have no record of your reservation"
Hotels never tell guests " the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth" so help me God!
Hotel employees KNOW how this system works. They could easily explain, "That is not one of OUR reservation numbers, sir. Did you book your room directly through us or did you work with a tour company or travel agency"?...and then explain how the system works.
Instead they like to play this little "game" and panic our mutual guests. It makes me look like I took Dr. Geoff's hard earned money and went shopping on Amazon or something....UGH!!!! (thanks for letting me vent!) Don't ask me why. Hotels, cruises and theme parks call travel agents their "partners" and then they do stuff like this or market directly to our clients to increase their own profits. It's a VERY passive aggressive relationship at best!
Anyway ...I called the tour company, who in turn called the hotel, had them assign names to the room and give us a direct hotel confirmation number. I called, tested out THEIR reservation number and told them for a fourth time that Dr. Geoff needs a crib in his room. I then emailed Dr. Geoff his hotel direct confirmation number FINALLY giving him peace of mind. His vacation plans are safe and sound and he's got a great hotel room ready and waiting for his family! (Hopefully he'll find a crib waiting for him when he gets there).
Hopefully now that you've had a chance to "look behind the scenes" it will save you from worry. If you do have any requests or special needs, speak to your travel agent directly first. They are your partner and representative. They know best how to work the system.