Checking In: How to Get a Better Room
Imagine yourself in the following situation. Your flight's just been canceled and you've been given a voucher entitling you to a free night's stay at the Red Roof Inn near LAX airport. (I know, pinch yourself!) Just before you enter the property, you notice that one side of the hotel faces a loud, constantly-busy freeway. The other doesn't. Rooms on the lower floors, you deduce, are probably loud 24/7. Those on the higher floors, not so much. As you approach the Red Roof reception desk, you are determined to ask for a room on a high floor facing away from the freeway. You are also aware that the Red Roof desk clerk will know exactly why you're asking for such a room and indeed why anyone would want one of those rooms.
What's the strategy for getting one?
The above actually happened to a friend of mine recently, and I'm pleased to report that she did indeed snag a high room on the Red Roof's quiet side. But before I tell you which tactic she used, a little background. As everyone knows, there are some truly terrible rooms in many of the best hotels, and even the most awful hotel has some rooms better than others. There are better and worse seats on airplanes and tour buses, better and worse cabins on cruise ships. In other words, at every turn, your vacation's success could potentially be held hostage by a stranger who may or may not be swayed by your charm offensive.
So when you walk up to the Red Roof counter, is your style of the sweetly interrogative variety?:
Would it be possible for me to have a room on the top floor, blah, blah, blah?
Or is a no-nonsense declarative approach more your style?
Give me a room on the top floor, blah, blah, blah.
It turns out that neither approach is optimal. According to my friend, who had recently undergone assertiveness training and therefore is to be trusted above all others, the proper approach might be termed the love child of the above two versions.
With utter charm and bonhomie, you say:
I'd like a room on the top floor, blah, blah, blah.
This combines the politesse of number one with the aggressiveness of number two. Put another way, don't give the gatekeeper the option of saying no by phrasing your request as a conditional, but don't put them off by issuing a command.
And that's how my friend got the best room in the house. At the Red Roof Inn at LAX, that is.
What strategies have worked best for you in similar situations? Short of greasing an employee's palm, what can you do to ensure you get the best room, seat, cabin, etc?
By Scott Vogel |
April 10, 2008; 9:25 AM ET
Travel Survival Tips
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