Basic Steps for Finding and Booking Hotels

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When booking a hotel, proximity to the theme parks is usually the most important consideration. However, booking hotels with a direct gondola, shuttle, or monorail connection is often worth the extra cost. Here are some basic steps for finding and booking a hotel that is perfect for you and your family.

1. Start With Google Maps On Google Maps, search for hotels near your destination. For example, search for “hotels within 3 miles of Walt Disney World.”  (Google thinks the center of Walt Disney World is a patch of land to the right of World Drive as you pass Epcot Center Drive, and most Disney resorts are within a 3-mile radius of that point.)

You can also search by walking distance, as in “hotels within a 10-minute walk of Disney Springs.”
A map will show nearby hotels, although it will also show a wider geographic area, so you‘ll have to zoom in, sometimes several times (using the “+” function on the page), to adequately differentiate the hotels and see where they are in relation to Disney Springs. 

Once Google Maps knows you’re looking for hotels, it’ll prompt you to enter your check-in and check-out dates. Also, the foregoing is just an example that you can replicate with any location and travel dates you choose, to familiarize yourself with using Google Maps for hotel shopping.

2. Identify Your Options All the hotels displayed on the map will show a blue block containing an advertised rate. Look for the closest hotel at the best rate. For example, when we searched for hotels within a 10-minute walk of Disney Springs for September, 2018, the best combination of location and rate was The Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista at $81 in late March 2019. Most other nearby hotels are all over $100.

Placing your cursor over the block (but not clicking on it) will bring up the name and star rating of the hotel, along with some other information.

If you click on it, a column will appear on the left side of the page with more in-depth information and rate quotes from various online travel agencies (OTA) and other sites. Included will be the names of similar hotels nearby.

3. Meetings and Events If you’re attending a meeting or event that has reserved room blocks (large numbers of reserved rooms managed by the event or meeting sponsor), we recommend booking within the room block. Room blocks are high-volume business for hotels. Sponsors leveraging this volume can often obtain sweeteners such as catered events, hospitality suites, entertainment, and a whole range of other services and extras that make the experience richer and more enjoyable for you. If you book your room outside the room block it could compromise the sponsoring organization’s negotiating position for subsequent events. However, if the room block hotels are beyond your means, booking outside the room block will not diminish the clout of the sponsor because outside-the-block reservations are anticipated when the sponsor contracts the room blocks.

booking hotels

4. Check Booking.com Once you have found one or more hotels that satisfy your location and rate criteria, check it/them out on booking.com to see which seller(s) are offering the best rates for your dates. Though you can spend days rooting around the web looking at different sellers, it’s largely a waste of time. One check on booking.com is all you need. If the booking.com rates seem higher than those you’ve seen elsewhere it’s because it includes taxes in its rate quote, while other booking sites don’t disclose these until you click through and try to book. Also, rate quotes on booking.com are for your entire length of stay. 

booking hotels

5.  See If the Hotel Can Beat Online Every time a room is booked through a third party, be it an OTA or content site like TripAdvisor.com, the hotel is losing margin (i.e., making less). Therefore, before you book a room online, take the best deals you found on the Web and phone the hotel directly (not the national reservations number).

When booking hotels, start by asking for a rate quote for your travel days. If the quote is higher than what you found online, tell the hotel reservationist so without quoting your best online rate. Say, “I’ve found lots of better rates online. I know about the hotel industry and know that your hotel will make a lot more on the reservation if I book directly with you. So, can you please check and see if you can find a better rate?” If the hotel reservationist comes back with a better rate, pin her down regarding exactly what kind of room that rate gets you. Also get the reservation agent’s name and note the time of the call.

booking hotels

5. Extra Charges Hotels are notorious for not including various mandatory charges such as resort fees, parking fees, and Internet use fees in their advertised rates. It is usually impossible to opt out of these fees. Making sure you’re aware of all the ancillary charges is another reason to speak directly with the hotel. When you do, also ask about taxes.

6. Check the Hotel’s Website Go to the hotel’s website and check out what kind of room you’ll get at the quoted rate. If you’re okay with what you see, call the hotel back and book. If you have any special preferences (room not facing the street, away from elevators or ice machines, etc.), make sure these are noted on your reservation. We also usually ask about the age of the hotel, construction or renovations at the hotel or nearby, road noise, and the Wi-Fi situation.

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