Monday, June 9, 2008

Your Next Stay at a Home Away From Home

I bet you are wondering why in the world I would be writing about this. Surely everyone knows how to check in at a motel and what to expect.

Well, no, everyone does not and the surprising thing is, it is the ones who appear to be savvy travelers that are the most ill informed about such matters.

The first thing I would like to cover is identity. For the protection of the credit card holder, the other guests, the motel staff and sometimes due to state laws requiring it--we must see your identifying information.

Without a Federal or State issued picture identification we have no idea if you actually own that credit card you are presenting for payment.

Oh! your credit card has a picture on it? Sorry. We still need the Federal or State issued picture identification for comparison. I spoke to my personal banker about this issue and she stated to me that these pictures are not intended to take the place of checking the Federal or State issued picture identification, that the bank will put any picture you request on your credit card.

In some states, it is state law that the motel staff record your Federal or State issued picture identification's number and other information on it.

I become stupefied when I ask for a picture id and payment method and the guest gets angry at me for asking for the picture id, especially when I turn the credit card over and the guest has written on it in the signature space, "ASK FOR PICTURE I.D." This scenario has occurred several times over the past few years.

Remember, when you provide a Federal or State issued picture identification card along with your credit card, you know the motel staff is looking out for your best interest and making sure those that have stolen credit cards do not use them at their motel.

Next on the agenda is reservations.

When you call in or make a reservation online, the cancellation policy is clearly explained--if not you should ask. As a general rule, motels are going to charge you for at least one night's stay plus tax if you just do not show up or call and cancel the reservation by a certain time.

Let me explain the reason for that.

The motel has been holding the room for you, based on your promise to be there. They can not rent the room to any one else and they may even loose a reservation for a longer stay by someone else because you have made a promise and so have they.

If you can not show up for the room, call immediately to let the motel know.

You can still make reservations without using a credit card but the motel will only hold the room for you until a certain time that day. Make sure you understand what time you must arrive by for the room to still be waiting on you.

To make sure you have all the information you need, be very sure to obtain a written confirmation. Have the motel email, fax or mail you one. If you make the reservation on-line, print the confirmation.

Making reservations through third party websites.

This is any website that is not directly connected to the motel such as:,,, and many, many others. When you use these sites, you pay them, not the motel. To make changes to the reservation, you can not call the motel. You must contact the website you made the reservation with and follow their rules about changes.

Be sure to print your receipt from the website as the motel can not provide you with one. Again, you did not pay the motel, you paid the third party website.

Even though you have paid the third party website for your room, that does not cover incidentals such as: long distance calls, laundry service, room service, etc. You will need to present a credit card at check-in to cover such things.


No General Manager, Owner nor other Staff Member wants a guest to be dissatisfied. If there is a problem with anything at all, please, report it to the front desk at once and provide the motel staff the opportunity to correct it.

Our goal is satisfied guests that have a restful, pleasant stay. This can not be achieved if you do not tell us there is a problem.

Special Needs

If you have any special needs, please, when you make the reservation, make these special needs known to the person taking the reservation. If you do not make a reservation and are what is known as a "walk-in" guest, make your needs known at the time of check-in.
Many motels have rooms specially equipped for various needs. Such as wheelchair accessible showers, TDD equipment, bathrooms with extra handrails and seats on the tub, etc.


At check out time it is always a good idea to make suggestions to the staff of things that you feel would improve your experience staying at that particular motel. Suggestions are always welcome.

When you checked in you signed a registration card stating you agree to the stated room rate and you will be responsible for any damages to the room or property made by you or your visitors. It may also have a clause about pets.

At the time you check out you are signing that you know what the final bill for your stay is and that you agree to pay it. This is called a folio. It contains a breakdown of the room rate, all applicable taxes, and any incidentals you incurred. You are not going to be charged two times because you signed twice.

Credit Card Authorization versus Charge

A credit card authorization is provided to the motel when you make the reservation or check-in to guarantee that the motel will be able to charge the credit card for the purchase amount. This authorization will set aside funds on your credit card to cover the projected costs of your stay. A credit card charge is the actual transfer of funds from the credit card agency to the motel for the final amount of your stay, incidentals and applicable taxes.
If you are using a debit card the authorization will freeze these funds in your account.

You have not been charged twice-------you might want to have your bank or credit card company explain this to you further.

Part of a Group

If you are part of a group that has a number of rooms reserved for its members--when you call to reserve one of those rooms, the first thing you need to tell the staff person is that you are calling to book one of the "Smith Family Reunion" rooms or whatever your group's name is.

It gets very confusing and time consuming to correct if you make the reservation and then afterwards state that you are with a certain group.
Be Truthful About the number of people in your party and whether or not you have pets.

This seems like a no-brainer but it seems to be the most difficult one for people to follow.
Most motels do not charge for children under 16 or 18., but they need to know the correct number of people in the room. God forbid, but if there was a fire or tornado or other emergency, the staff will tell the rescue workers what you have said as regards the number of people of in your room.
If you have told two adults and revealed three children, then the rescue workers are only going to look for two adults in the room.
As for pets--when you do not tell the desk clerk you have a pet, it is disrespectful of the guests that will use the room after you.
Many people have allergies to pets. Allergies can be deadly.
If the motel accepts pets, they have certain rooms for them. These rooms are the same as all the other rooms on the property.
There is usually a fee for pets that is $10 or less. This is due to doing a more specific cleaning of the room.
Smoking Rooms

If you smoke, please, ask for a smoking room. If you get a non-smoking room, please, do not open the window and sit by while you smoke. Go outside.
Roll Away Beds

The local Fire Marshalls have rules about how many beds can be in a room based on its size and other factors.
Sometimes rollaways can not be placed in a room that has two beds, especially if those are queen or king beds. There simply is no room for it without blocking the doorway. Again, if there were an emergency, this would create a serious problem.
Left Something Behind

You have left the motel and you realize you have left something behind. Call just as soon as you realize you did.
Many motels will have a lost & found but they only keep items for so long. This varies from motel to motel and state to state. As a general rule, they do not keep wet items such as used swimwear but a few hours, it will mold!
Be sure to double check your room before leaving--twice!
Here are somethings that have been left behind in my long career in the hospitality industry:
  • APAP Breathing Machine
  • Wet Bathing Suits
  • Personal Towels
  • Laptops
  • Cell Phones
  • Cords for Laptops and Cell Phones
  • Hanging Clothing
  • Make-up
  • Suitcase
  • Coolers
  • Fishing Tackle or Rods
  • Credit Cards
  • Driver License
  • Personal Items
Comparison Shopping

When you do your comparison shopping for motels you need to ask several questions before you get the real picture of what value you are getting for the price you will be paying.
  • Do you have a pool? Is it indoor or outdoor? Heated?
  • Do you have WiFi? If so, is it free?
  • Do you have a Business Center with Internet accessible computer?
  • Do you offer a breakfast? What is on the menu? (Is it all cold items or are there hot items?)
  • Can I send and receive faxes? If so, what is the fee?
  • What restaurants are nearby? How close are they?
  • What shopping is available within a five mile radius?
And any other questions that are pertinent to your visit.
Scamming to get room free

People will do many things to get a room for free.
They will be dis-honest about finding things left behind by other guests, odors they smell in the hallway, falling, etc.
This is illegal and you will eventually be caught. Motel's keep records of these sorts of reports and actually have databases that it goes into.
Managers and Staff check these databases on a regular basis.
Think before you do this--is the price of a motel room worth obtaining a set of silver bracelets?
The bottom line is the hospitality industry is there to make you feel at home when you are away from home. We strive to achieve this based upon your honesty with us.
Hoping your next visit to a motel is pleasurable and relaxing. . . . . . . . . . .

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