Insider Secrets to Booking a great Hotel Room

How to Book a Great Hotel Room

I am going to give you some information on how to book a great hotel room. Apart from booking the presidential suite or knowing the owner, the following might work for you.
Why would I know these insider secrets to booking a great hotel room? I was the General Manager at a #4 rated hotel out of 950 hotels in Thailand; as rated in TripAdvisor. Whilst in Thailand I was the customer services manager of a #1 rated special lodging (nothing dubious!). I worked in two hotels in Siem Reap and gave advice to a Chinese consortium in Cambodia on a consultancy basis. I know a thing or two about the booking functions of decent hotels.

Hotel Price Comparison Websites

We have all seen the adverts: why pay more for the same hotel room? You should tread carefully here, and we hope this seems reasonable. Why would a hotel have different prices for the same room on different On-Line Travel Agent (OTA) websites? We hope the following makes sense:

  1. Very well managed hotels will use software called a Channel Manager. These allow hotels to ensure that their rooms are at the same price on all the available online travel agents. If they cannot manage something as important as their room pricing, why would you want to stay there?
  2. The price comparison sites are exploiting a deficiency in badly managed hotels. Great marketing by the comparison site but  not how you want to choose a hotel.
  3. The real cynic in me might suggest that hotels are inflating prices on an OTA, so that they can fabricate discounts. Why would they do this? The reason is simple, they need to offer huge discounts for an OTA to promote them on their websites and newsletters.
  4. If I were even more cynical, I could suggest that a hotel would inflate certain room rates with one OTA so that they can drive guests to an OTA that charges lower commission rates. However, that would be outrageous for me to suggest that a hotel would do that.

Hotel Room Discounts

Some hotels (not all) regularly inflate their “rack” rate (price of a hotel room), so that they can offer HUGE discounts. If you book a hotel that has offered you 40%-80% off the room rate, once you actually visit the hotel check the rack-rate board. I reckon it is a fair bet that you will not find the rate from which the 60% was discounted. I dare you to ask for 60% off the advertised rack rate in the hotel.
The only time I would be confident with booking a room when seeing larger discounts is when you are booking a last-minute deal.

Siem Reap Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Although this website is aimed at volunteers, our advice holds good for anyone booking a hotel in a Siem Reap hotel. Actually, most of the advice holds good for any hotel in Cambodia and further afield. You will find advice on how to and how not to book a great hotel room.

What not to do with an Email

  1. Send one to make a booking. Research has indicated that it will take on average seven emails to book a room. That is assuming that you will receive a response. When I became involved with some hotels I checked the quality of responses to emails. You would be truly amazed at how many were not given replies; simply because the front desk could not understand the language. Some emails were so complex that it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to understand them. Or they were so vague for a type of room request or dates that it would have taken an eternity to check the booking system. Generally, hotels do not like unsolicited emails for bookings – it is as simple as that.
  2. Ensure that any request in an email makes sense. I have had emails requesting a high floor (20th+ floor) with views of the sea. All hotels in Siem Reap are no higher than four floors and the sea is hundreds of miles away.
  3. Do not be tempted to ask for the best room in the hotel if you have no idea what the best room is.
  4. Do not ask about availability. It is going to change either by the time they send you a reply or by the time you make a booking.
  5. Do not expect a hotel to reserve a room via email unless you know them very well and have stayed with the hotel before.

Research your chosen hotel in Siem Reap

Most of you will want to have an awesome time wherever you choose to stay. Do a bit of research, it is fun learning how to book a great hotel room. It doesn’t matter if you believe review sites or not they are definitely worth a visit. I have found them to be highly reliable assuming they have more than 20 reviews. This by no means suggesting that you should not consider a Siem Reap hotel or hostel that has less reviews. Siem Reap is vibrant, and new hotels and hostels are constantly popping up. In addition, ones that were managed poorly are sold to people who believe they can do a better job.

  1. THIS should be a question you ask any hotel after you have booked it. Does it have emergency generators? Siem Reap, and to a lesser extent Battambang, has power outages. I can assure you from personal experience this is not good.
  2. How many rooms does the hotel have? You really want to consider hotels with under 100 rooms and quite possibly under 50. The reason is simple; the larger hotels cater for tour groups who change every three or four days. It can become quite a circus at reception and meal times.
  3. Does the hotel have a lift? Many hotels and hostels in Siem Reap do not have lifts as they have a maximum of four floors. If you are not good with stairs, ask for a ground floor room.
  4. Is the breakfast buffet style? I did consultancy work at a hotel and watched them serve breakfast. If you are first then no problem; however, the day I timed servings it was taking 25 minutes to serve toast and coffee. Opt for hotels with buffet breakfast or five stars.
  5. Do they allow non-guests to use the pool? This can be annoying when you are suddenly inundated with groups of people who pay to use the hotel swimming pool. Smaller hotels allow this to generate extra income.
  6. How close is the hotel to pub street? Pub Street is great for a night out; however, you do not want to be living there. Find a hotel that is a five-minute walk or a two-minute tuk tuk ride away.

Book a great hotel room – online

The best and easiest way to book a great hotel room is to make your booking online through one of the top three OTAs. One of the biggest hidden gems of Siem Reap is that these companies have manned offices in the centre of town. This is not advertised and not known to many visitors to Siem Reap. If in the unlikely circumstance you have a problem, a real person is there to help you. There is also the security of using an OTA. If you have paid for your hotel room in advance and the hotel is not suitable for you, there is a definite chance you will get you cash back. The OTA does not release payment until you have left. Simply complain immediately. If you have paid your deposit direct to the hotel, you can wave it goodbye.
If you are “pay on arrival”, you do not have to pay until your stay is complete. Pay once you are happy with your accommodation.
There are many mega search companies that you could use; however, these are the three online travel agents I use to book a great hotel room and the three I used for the hotels I managed.

  1. Booking.com
  2. Agoda
  3. Expedia

Hotel Booked?

Now that we have shown you how to book a great hotel room it is now time to consider other parts of your adventure

  1. Choose a charity
  2. Cambodian tours
  3. Angkor Wat visit
  4. If you have not booked a flight to Cambodia, do it now