When was the last time you thought "hey, this hotel website is well-designed and informative, giving me all the information I needed to know as a business traveller"?
It's pretty rare that the kind of information you want is all there, together, so you have to email the hotel for the stuff you really want to know.
But very few people email the concierge or reservations team to ask questions -- let alone to make requests or let the hotel know more about their stay.
Remember, especially at higher-end business hotels, the staff are aiming to please you and to win your repeat business.
So I keep a text file with a few standard paragraphs that I can just copy and paste into a web form or email to the hotel. Feel free to copy and paste from this into your own personal file (or, if you have an assistant or travel booker, create a text file for them to use on your behalf).
Obviously, for a one-nighter in a city I know, I'll need to ask fewer questions. But for a week in an unfamiliar city where I don't speak the language, I'll ask most of the questions.
It takes the effort out of remembering what you need to ask each time -- and of course, saves time typing it all out.
A few tips on crafting your own text file:
- remember to include your reservation details. A quick copy-and-paste of your booking number and dates from the reservation email should do it.
- don't forget your frequent guest loyalty program number and status level if you have one. If you do, they have all the more incentive to make sure you have a great stay.
- keep it simple and specific, with questions according to your situation and your wants. Try to keep sentences simple in case the person reading doesn't have English as a first language.
- do tip if the information's useful or they come through with an upgrade or service. Especially if you want it the next time you stay.
General information requests
Copy, paste, and fill in the blanks!
Arrival: I'm arriving on flight number ___ from ___ at ___. What's the fastest and easiest way to get to the hotel at that time of day, how much should it cost, and how long should it take? Would a pre-booked car be a sensible option, and how much would that be?
Departure: My flight number ___ to ___ departs at ___ from ___ airport. What's the fastest and easiest way to get to the airport at that time of day, how much should it cost, and how long should it take? Would a pre-booked car be a sensible option, and how much would that be?
Transport: Can you give me a quick description of when it would make sense for me to use the public transport rather than taking a taxi, and whether it makes sense for me to get a multi-trip card for my stay?
Logistics: Are there any local or national holidays going on while I'm at the hotel, which might disrupt local transport and traffic? Will shops be open every day while I'm at the hotel?
Power points: I travel with five pieces of electronic work equipment that need to be plugged in. Are there four power points near the desk and two near the bed? If not, please arrange for the necessary power boards to be waiting in the room.
Internet: Please let me know what the hotel's Internet situation and pricing is. Is there wifi in the rooms, wired Ethernet or both? Is there any kind of package I can buy to get the best value? What download and upload speeds can I expect?
Gym: I enjoy a good workout and like to focus on elliptical machines and strength training. Does the hotel have those facilities (and if so, how many of each?) or is there a local gym with reasonable rates you could recommend?
Laundry: I'll have some laundry to do and I prefer to send it out to a laundry service rather than having it done at the hotel. Is there a local laundry service you can recommend that collects and delivers laundry?
And finally, don't forget to say: Thank you very much! I really appreciate your help in making my business trip a productive and enjoyable one. If you have any questions, if any of the requests aren't possible or need any clarifications, please feel free to send me an email at _____ .
A few more specialised requests you could adapt to your own needs
Dining: I'm sure I'll be enjoying your restaurant while I'm at the hotel, but I'm a real fan of Chinese food. Could you please arrange for a couple of menus from local Chinese delivery places to be left in the room for me?
Mobile: What's the best network to get a local SIM card for my phone, and what's the most convenient place to get it? I'll need a microSIM, and I'm mainly interested in using data. During my trip, I'll probably use around 1GB per week. If you could translate that and have it printed out on a piece of paper so I can take it to the store you recommend, that would be great.
Entertainment: I really love sung classical music -- choral, opera, lieder, recitals, that kind of thing. Are there any concerts on in local opera houses, concert halls, performing arts academies or other venues while I'm there?
Room selection: I prefer a quiet room on a high floor from the lifts on the side of the hotel that faces sunrise. If there's any chance of an upgrade, I'd really appreciate the extra space as long as there's a decent work area.
Special requests: I'm a really big tea drinker, so if housekeeping could make sure that there's extra tea and milk stocked in the room that would be fantastic.
What do you ask hotels when you stay? Have you ever emailed in advance? Share your thoughts in a comment below.
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About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.