Traveling and hotels are intertwined in many ways, from finding the best rates on flights and hotels to navigating the complex landscape of travel rewards. There are also several strategies for getting the most out of a hotel stay, from choosing the right credit card to booking a room with an advance purchase discount.
Hotel (and other accommodation) prices vary according to the location, star rating and service offered. In some cases the difference is significant, but even in more prestigious hotels it is possible to find deals for travelers who plan ahead. Some of the world’s largest travel sites offer flight, hotel, rental car and cruise bookings as well as packages that combine all or some of those elements.
Often the difference in price between a five-star hotel and a three-star one depends on the level of services provided, which in turn depends on the target market for the property. The amenities may include a fitness room and pool, but in some instances there are a variety of spa or wellness facilities such as saunas, massage rooms and beauty salons, which have staff and charge for treatment. Many hotels also have business centres which can be used by travellers for meetings and conferences, and some offer a range of other services such as currency exchange and fax machines for a fee.
Boutique hotels, which are independent properties with a high degree of design and service quality, have been growing in popularity. Some of these hotels are part of larger hotel chains, but the term is sometimes applied to other properties as a marketing tool if they have some unique feature that sets them apart from mainstream competitors.
Many people choose to book their accommodation with large hotel chains because they have a reputation to uphold, and they offer loyalty programs that provide additional benefits for frequent travelers. These benefits include discounts on rooms and access to exclusive events and activities, as well as other perks such as free or discounted meals in the hotel’s restaurants and coffee shops.
In contrast, renting a local apartment or private home through an online service such as Airbnb or vacation rentals allows travellers to feel more like a native of a city or country and may give them a more authentic experience. These types of accommodations are often cheaper and may have extra features such as kitchens or private pools.
Many travelers want to minimise the environmental impact of their travel and stay at sustainable hotels that take into account the energy, water and waste management used by the property, as well as ensuring a high standard of customer service. This is important because tourism is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, with air travel and the purchasing of souvenirs and other products contributing significantly. It is hoped that advances in technology and increased awareness will reduce the impact of travelling and staying in hotels. A variety of online tools are available for calculating travel and hotel sustainability metrics.