Booking a Stay at the Wrong Hotel — Reader Mistake Story

Jul 6, 2017

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi Prestige

One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about all the positive ways award travel has affected their lives. That being said, while I love hearing about your successes, I think there’s also a lot we can learn by sharing our mistakes, and I’m calling on readers to send in your most egregious and woeful travel failures.

From time to time I’ll pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy (and commiserate with). If you’re interested, email your story to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Include details of exactly how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Please offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what precautions the rest of us can take to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, I’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure (or make up for any blunders from the last one).

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Cynthia, who got booked at the wrong hotel after a mix-up with her concierge. Here’s what she had to say:

Cynthia
Cynthia tried to book a stay at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, but the Citi Concierge booked her elsewhere.

I love the Fourth Night Free benefit on the Citi Prestige Card, but a minor oversight turned into a huge headache when I tried to use it on my upcoming trip to Waikiki.

Knowing that a prepaid rate would be cheaper, and that booking before July would allow me to include taxes in my rate, I called the Citi concierge desk late one night to request a reservation at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. I confirmed the resort name, rate, room type and dates, and received an email with reservation and rebate details before going to bed.

When I looked at the email again the next morning, I noticed the hotel name was correct — Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort — but the address was unfamiliar. I called the concierge again, and found out they had booked me at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort instead. Even worse, the rate was non-refundable and non-changeable!

After spending an hour on the phone with them, I ended up having to call the Outrigger reservation desk myself. The front desk staff at the Outrigger Reef kindly agreed to transfer my reservation to the other property, though I had to pay about $107 to make up for the rate difference on those nights.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. I had to call the Citi Concierge twice (and spend over an hour with two different representatives) to update my booking so it would qualify for the fourth night free. Also, both Outrigger resorts billed my credit card for the full reservation, so I spent another 30 minutes with their reservations line trying to get a refund for the duplicate booking.

If I had verified the address with the concierge desk before making the original booking, I wouldn’t have had to spend hours on the phone trying to get my money back!

One pitfall of booking hotel rooms by phone is that many properties have similar-sounding names. Hyatt has five hotels in Paris, including two Hyatt Regency locations. Similarly, you’ll find four Holiday Inn properties in New Orleans, with another half dozen in the surrounding area (many of which include the city’s name in their own). Just as you should confirm flight numbers and departure times when buying airfare, you should also confirm the location of your hotel when booking a room.

As Cynthia suggests, verifying the address is an easy solution. Customer service agents don’t know what you want unless you tell them, so the more information you provide, the more likely they are to understand. Rather than requesting a room at the “Hilton San Francisco,” for example, you might ask for the “Hilton San Francisco Union Square on O’Farrell Street.” Mistakes will still be made from time to time, but you’ll minimize them by avoiding ambiguity.

Businessman wearing headset in office
Customer service agents don’t always know what you want, so be clear! Image courtesy of Tom Merton via Getty Images.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Cynthia for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on her travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image courtesy of Duane Walker via Getty Images.

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