OL 031: 5 Tips to Improve Your Orlando Hotel Experience
Improve Your Orlando Hotel Experience
It's easy to overlook some aspects of your hotel experience, whether in Orlando or anywhere else. Frequent travelers may have already learned these tips, but we wanted to share them for those of us who take occasional trips. It may give you some new ideas of how to plan for your Orlando hotel experience.
1: When to Take Room Photos
Many of us like to take photos or videos of our hotel rooms. YouTube is full of hotel room tours, and plenty of them are filled with a lot of junk in the room.
The best time to take your room photos and videos is the moment you arrive. That's the best it's ever going to look – before you unpack a thing.
If you plan to capture some memories of your vacation hotel, get the shots right away. The photos or videos will look much better without your clutter all over the room, and then you can settle in without the nagging idea of trying to clean up to take photos later. (Hint: you won't do it).
2: Requests vs. Guarantees
Make sure your expectations are accurate. If you booked a class of room, it's guaranteed to be there (though some hotels do screw up bookings, it's generally not a problem).
However, your desire to have a room on the ground floor or close to the elevator is a request, not a guarantee. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for what you want. If the hotel can accommodate your request, they're often happy to do so. Just remember that some things are a request rather than a guarantee.
Check with your hotel to know what's expected with your booking and what may not be available.
3: Is Your Room a Home or a Pit Stop?
Know how much time you expect to spend in your hotel room. Is it a place where you want to relax and enjoy the view, or are you just there for the bed and bathroom?
If it's the latter, you can save a few bucks by avoiding premium view rooms or other locations in the resort that cost a bit more. Why pay for a view you're not planning to enjoy?
Also, make sure you know what the hotel means by “view.” I've been in a few resorts that promised a view, but I had to put my face against the window and crane my neck to see a small bit of the view.
For example, there is a difference between “water front” and “water view.” Ask to be sure you get what you want.
4: How Far is it to…?
At some point, you probably want to leave your hotel room. How far is it to get breakfast or coffee? How far are you from the elevators? Is it a long walk to get to transportation? Where is the pool?
Some people like to be at the end of the hall, others want to be close to the amenities. Decide what's important to you and see if you can get a room in the location you desire.
It may be a request, or it may be a premium price. Your mileage varies by hotel.
5: Just Ship It
Let's face it. Food costs more in hotels. If you don't have a car to visit a grocery store, it's another expensive pain to get something local.
So don't do it. Buy your water and snacks on Amazon and have it shipped to your hotel room. It saves time and money. You also guarantee that you get what you want, rather than what's in the hotel snack shack.
One word of warning. Some hotels charge a small fee to accept packages, and they may charge per package. Call to find out and try to have your shipment arrive in one box.
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William: Welcome to the Orlando Local Show, episode number thirty-one.
For our topic today we’re going to be talking about five tips to improve your Orlando hotel experience.
And by improve, I think we’re kind of talking about stuff that maybe you haven’t expected, maybe you didn’t think about trying before …
Lee: Planning is everything.
William: Planning helps, and some of these things aren’t necessarily guarantees, but they are things that you can ask for.
Lee: And knowledge is power.
William: Hi, everybody. My name is William Beem.
Lee: I’m Lee Beem.
William: And before we get into our Orlando hotel experience discussion, we just want to let you know that show notes are going to be available at orlandolocal.com/31 and you can find a transcript of the show there for free. Of course we’d also love it if you’d subscribe to the Orlando Local Show. There are going to be links available on that page and just go ahead, subscribe, get the show delivered to you directly and we’ll be happy to talk to you every week.
Alright, enough of my commercial for that part of it.
So we’re talking about improving your Orlando hotel experience and I guess these ideas could work for any city. It’s not necessarily just Orlando, but we’re talking about things that you can do that just make your trip a little bit easier, a little bit more pleasurable and also make it easier to share with your friends.
For a lot of people – this is kind of our first one – a lot of people really like to share photos or video of what their hotel room looked like. I mean that’s part of your vacation memories and you want to capture that; and you also want to share it.
William: So the first tip is really, to me, very obvious. But a lot of people when I’m looking at their videos on YouTube and apparently they didn’t think about this. Take your room photos or videos when you arrive.
Lee: Oh, please.
William: I mean everything is in pristine order. That’s the best it’s ever going to look during your entire stay. Nobody really wants to see your dirty laundry thrown about.
Lee: Yeah. And the dirty cups and things lying strewn all over the place, the make-up bag emptied out …
William: What you’re really doing is you’re providing a service for other people, especially those that are doing research that may want to stay at the same hotel or resort that you’re staying at. And they want to see it when they walk in the room, what does the hotel officer … did I say officer?
Lee: Yes you did.
William: Alright. What does the hotel offer? I’m a big boy. One of these days I’ll learn how to use my words like one.
But like I said, it’s a service so before you start unloading all your baggage and things, this is one of the things you plan on. As soon as you get there, if you’re going to be taking video or photos of your hotel room, do it right away. That is the best it’s ever going to look. And that’s going to make the best impression upon you when you turn around and share these things.
Lee: It is, but it goes beyond that. I like to have photos like that in my online album or my photo memories; it’s things that I want for myself personally and to share with close family. I also want them to look the best for me, because I’m important too! This was my vacation.
William: Well, you’re capturing memories and this is part of it and you know, after you’ve had a long trip, you fly in, you take the bus or cab or whatever it is that takes you to your hotel room, you’re tired … I get it! You want to just get in and relax. Or at least take a moment and just take a break. You kind of need to fight that feeling a little bit to get your best shots.
Lee: Well, what I used to do was I didn’t do it every trip. Initially I did the same as so many do where I thought of taking photos and then I looked around and thought, oh …! I didn’t want all our stuff in it. And I ended up not getting the photos, which I regret now. But also, let the people in your party know. If you’re going to plan to get photos, let them know in advance. When people are expecting to get into the room and be able to sit down and relax after traveling, they are going to be a little bit less tolerant if they weren’t expecting you to say, “Oh, before you go in….”
William: Like you said, this is a planning thing. If you know that you’re going to want to do this, we’re telling you now so that you can think about it. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to take photos of your room, you don’t have to share them with anybody. I can tell you when I take business trips and I go to a hotel, I might take a photo of what the bed looks like and send it you.
William: But I’m not really posting it online. This is not a great memory. This is just a place where I’m spending the night before I have to go work someplace else.
Lee: Yeah. But I never see dirty laundry on the bed.
William: No, because I take that shot before anything else comes in and I start unpacking.
And you know, there’s one other thing that I’ve noticed with hotel walk throughs or videos on YouTube. It seems almost everybody starts in the bathroom.
Lee: And they always have to do a close up shot into the toilet! Like we’ve never seen one before. Why do you do that?
William: I don’t get that. Maybe the room is interesting. Maybe the toilet is interesting or something like that, but I don’t need the close in shot of going down into the toilet.
Lee: And also you always get the commentary. “This is the toilet.”
William: We know! We’ve got two in our house and we’ve seen them in other places too.
William: Sorry, it’s a bit of a tangent, but that’s just one of the first things to get a better hotel experience. You want to capture those memories. When you walk in the door, that’s the best it’s ever going to be.
William: Even after the maid has come and you’ve had your room serviced the next day, you still have some of your stuff that’s kind of scattered around.
Lee: Well you’re trying to live in a confined space. There is only so much area that you can put your stuff.
William: There is. So that’s why I’d say just get it done.
OK, the next thing that is on our list is room location. Every hotel has different areas that you may or may not want to be at. You can tell them in advance, but we want to make sure you know that a room location is a request, not a guarantee.
In most cases, hotels really want to accommodate you as much as they can.
Lee: They do. Most of the time I have been able to get what I’ve requested. There have been some times where I have not, but it helped a lot to understand that it’s not a guarantee. And even when I didn’t get exactly what I asked for, they did try and get me close to what I want. And I’m talking about hotels everywhere.
William: Well, the same thing has happened to me. One of the things that we also kind of warn you about is the upsell. Now when I say a room location is a request, that is something that you can ask. I’d like to be at the end; I’d like to be close to the elevators. Whatever it is that you want to do, that’s a request that you can make and it’s reasonable.
But you shouldn’t show up at the hotel thinking that you can make a request for an upgrade and then one, it may not be available and two, it’s definitely going to cost you more.
Lee: Yes. Book the room that you’re happy to accept. Don’t book a room hoping for a complimentary upgrade.
William: You can hope and I know in Las Vegas and probably here in Orlando too, people try what’s known as the $20 Trick, which is essentially a bribe. They’ll put $20 between their drivers license and credit card and slide it over like they are being sneaky and sly.
Lee: Oh my goodness, do people really do that?
William: Oh people have been doing this for years. Particularly in Las Vegas.
Lee: Yes. Las Vegas. Yeah. Orlando … really?
William: But it used to work. Now there are so many controls on the people who are operating the hotels and how much inventory they have and there is so much basically, measurement, of what’s going on. The fact is that the person behind the counter may not have that much authority to grant you an upgrade. At least to give you a free upgrade. They can certainly sell you an upgrade through the system, but they may not have the leverage to go ahead and say yeah, I’ll put you in this room. Don’t worry about it. Wink, nod and I’ll take the 20 bucks.
And worst case you might go to a place where they come over and take your $20, put it in their pocket and then you get the same room that you bought anyway.
Lee: Yes! I think also, something else from the other side of customer service, people who were trying to get something for free very obviously, were less likely to get anything from me; rather than the person who was just genuinely pleasant and courteous and I thought, I can accommodate this and I’d give them something extra.
William: You know what? Being pleasant and courteous is always to your advantage. I mean they get complaints all the time or they are dealing with unsatisfied or unhappy people. If they’ve got a genuine complaint, certainly they want to help you. But if you’re just a grumpy person going in there or if you’re …
Lee: Trying to milk it.
William: Or if you’re kind of arrogant about it, they don’t want to help you. There is no advantage to them to just make you feel like you’re more important than you really are. You are another guest. So I would say, make your requests, plan ahead of time if you want certain accommodations. Even bed sizes … it’s like you can book a room with a king sized bed or a queen sized bed or double beds, but once you get to the hotel, what you’ve booked is kind of what you need to be able to accept.
William: This one is kind of in your planning stages. How much time do you really plan on spending in your hotel room? And it kind of ties into things like: do you need a room with a view? If you’re not going to be in your room that much, why pay extra for the view?
Lee: See, I never pay for a view because I’m a very active person. So when I go somewhere, I tend to want to have my hotel room as a base. So to me, being close to amenities is more important than having a view. Because it’s probably going to be sleep time and shower time when I’m in the room. That would have been different if I had little kids or if I was there with elderly people who wanted to go rest and take it easy for lengthy periods in the day. Then it might be nice to have a balcony with a view or somewhere to spend that time.
William: And depending on where you’re staying, you could be staying on property at Walt Disney World, you could be staying on US-192 or International Drive or maybe over at Universal Studios … there are going to be rooms that have more of a view. They are going to charge more for them. And then there are going to be rooms that are looking over air conditioners or another building or something that is just nothing pleasant to look at.
And you don’t pay as much for those so you can save a bit of money if you realize that you don’t care about a view because you’re not going to be in the room that much.
William: And be careful if you ask for a room with a view that the room actually gives you the view that you expect. I have had this happen to me in Las Vegas at a couple of hotels.
One was at the Venetian, one was at Mandalay Bay and I got to the counter and the guy said, “Oh, would you like to upgrade to a Strip View Room?” So in other words, you can see the Las Vegas Strip and the lights and hotels out there.
Lee: It sounds wonderful!
William: And twice I bit for it and said, “Yes. I would love that. I am willing to pay more money and get that view.”
Well in order to see the strip in both of those hotels where I did the upgrade, I had to press my face up against the glass and turn sideways and I could see like a little tiny sliver of the Las Vegas Strip.
Lee: In case of emergency, break glass!
William: Yeah and it was horrible. Like technically, that is a view of the Las Vegas Strip. In Orlando …. well technically, that is a pool view …! So long as you turn your head this way at this particular angle.
Lee: Yeah and be careful because a water view? A little statue peeing into a fountain probably counts! Just see if you can find out more about the classification. It might be worth calling or sending an email to the hotel and saying, “When you say water view, what do you mean?”
William: What do you mean? I mean what am I going to see if I look straight out the window. I’m not talking about having to put my head sideways and angle around or look at something. But that’s what we want to say,. How much time do you want to spend in your hotel room and what room location do you want to request? You can save yourself some money by avoiding things that really don’t matter to your trip.
Lee: That’s true.
William: So don’t spend money on something that you’re not really going to see, you’re not really going to take advantage of it; you’re going to be paying for that every day.
Lee: And likewise, if it is important to you, that might be a worthwhile upgrade.
William: Oh, absolutely! There are times when I go on vacation and I really want to enjoy the hotel. I want to have a nice view and particularly places that I’ve been to many times before. If I go back to Las Vegas I’ve kind of seen it and done it and there are things I really enjoy, but I don’t need to go out and be hitting the road the whole time.
If you come here to one of the resorts or International Drive and you’ve done this a number of times, you know what you like and you may want to spend some more time in the room just kind of relaxing and chilling out. Because vacation is just as important to unwind as it is to be active and doing things,. It depends on your personality. That’s why we are saying: know how much time you want to spend in the hotel room.
Now this is one of Lee’s favorites in as far as the request you make for your room location. How far from your room do you want to be to go to the pool, to go to the restaurant, to go to certain amenities?
Lee: To taxi’s, to transportation.
William: How close do you want to be to the elevators, how far away do you want to be from the elevators?
Lee: Yes. Often being close to amenities you have to remember there is the chance that you are going to be subject to more noise, though not necessarily. For me, being close to the place where I could get coffee or for some people it’s somewhere they can get something to eat; being close to the pool with little kids might be a consideration. Those are the most important things. I want to know that I can get from the transportation to my room quickly and back again. And I need to be able to get coffee.
So for me it’s always: where’s the transportation? Where can I get coffee?
William: And you know, this may change, depending upon who is in your party. If you’re a couple of young adults or if you are a family and you’ve got young children or if you’ve got older children … Where you want to be is going to change depending upon the group that you’re with too.
Lee: Yes, because carrying a sleeping child?
William: Especially in some of the mega resorts where you’ve got to go up the elevator a long way and then you’ve got this really long hallway to get down to the end where your room is.
Lee: I can tell you from experience on my own carrying a sleeping seven year old is just deadweight at the end of a long night. It’s not fun when you picked a quiet room at the back of the resort. I will never do that again! But at the time it made sense to me because there were other things at the back of the resort along with the quietness that I wanted and they were actually beneficial.
William: And that kind of goes to something else we talked about with picking your hotel. You liked staying – when you were staying onsite at Disney – you ended up liking French Quarter. No elevators there?
Lee: Actually there are elevators.
William: There are elevators?
Lee: There are elevators. It’s just there was no need for them for us. What I liked was that it was a fairly compact layout. I think of all the resorts there it has the most compact layout and I was willing to pay extra for a room that was closer to the amenities.
William: But did you also end up carrying a tired child up the stairs?
Lee: No, I did not. But I just enjoyed being able to run down from my room to go and get a bus to one of the Disney parks or to go and refill my coffee in the food court. I mean, most years, aside from one. Actually no. There were one or two years? We stayed there a number of times. But where Tové would stand at the bedroom window and she would look out and she could watch me going into the food court, filling my coffee and coming out again. So it meant I didn’t have to drag her out. For me that was … I would have paid good money!
William: And she felt secure knowing “I can see where she is. I’m not worried about being alone.”
Lee: She did. And I made a request for that area. I was very specific about the building and the floor that I wanted. I knew it was just a request. Aside from twice, it was always granted to me.
William: Yeah, if they can the hotels want to make you happy. And if they know that the room is available and you’re the first one in there, why not assign it to you?
Lee: And I was willing to pay extra for it. Which I did not, but if they had brought it in – and they may have done so since – as a preferred area, I was willing to pay for it.
William: Some hotels will do that and some won’t, because a room with a view is considered a preferred area. Something closer to an amenity may be a preferred area.
Lee: And Tové is older, so as a teen now, leaving her in the room and saying I’m going to get coffee – I don’t have the same concerns. You don’t really want to leave your eight, nine or ten year old in the room for too long so I wanted her to be able to see me.
William: No, that makes perfect sense to me. And I remember because I was there on your last visit and saw exactly where your room was and I thought, that’s convenient!
Lee: Yeah, that was the one we didn’t get the request, but I was happy because they did their best and I got the next best thing that I wanted. So that was great!
William: Those things matter. If you’ve got little children and you want to take them back and forth to the pool all the time, yeah it may be loud, but get a room near the pool because then they can just go right outside and splash and then when they’re dead tired you don’t have very far to carry them back.
William: And if you know that your coffee in the room is not going to be that good, but there’s a little coffee shop nearby, you can get close to that. It’s a bit of a compromise. You don’t have everything at once.
Lee: It is and you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. You pick the things that are important to you. Or sometimes, especially with young children, practical!
William: There are times when I want a view. So when we had our vacation last summer, we went down to Sanibel Island. I wanted that view of the Gulf. It’s because it’s kind of the thing I grew up with and I didn’t want to be looking at another resort hotel. I knew I was going to spend time in our room and I wanted to be able to sit on the patio and just watch the waves roll in.
Lee: And we spent a lot of time sitting there, so we really enjoyed our view.
William: It cost a little bit more, but you know what? I enjoyed it and that’s what makes me relax. So to me that was worth it.
Lee: It was wonderful.
William: So we’re not giving any judgments here as to whether you should or should not have a room with a view. We are simply saying, make sure you know what you want and how much time you’re going to spend to enjoy it.
But if you don’t want it, don’t pay for it.
William: One of our last items here, and this is something that a few people know about and take advantage of, and some people have never heard of the idea. I was one of those.
You can ship groceries to your room ahead of time. Like you can go to amazon and pick water bottles or soda or chips, or whatever it is that you want and have them shipped directly to your hotel so that they will be there when you arrive.
Lee: We did that.
William: Depending upon the hotel you go to, this may be a free service or they may actually charge you a fee.
Lee: Yeah, please check first with the hotel, because it does vary from one to another. I’m not even going to … we’re not even going to attempt to put a list out because some of them change policies seasonally or generally.
William: We really don’t know. I read a couple of months ago that Disney parks were starting to charge for them. Or excuse me, the Disney hotels in the Walt Disney World area were starting to charge for them. Some of the hotels that are not Disney hotels on property already charge for them. I don’t know what the rates are or what the policies are on International Drive or in Universal Studios area, but check ahead of time.
William: But even if it’s …. it’s not going to be that much. It might be like 5 bucks or something.
Lee: It used to be ten bucks for some of the convention hotels at Disney, but you know things change. Check. That’s all I’m going to say. Check. Because it might actually, as a one off fee, be worth it.
William: To me that’s a convenience fee. But it’s a convenience that’s well worth it. Particularly if you are staying on property someplace. Trying to get a cab or a car and going out and doing grocery shopping instead of paying the exorbitant rates that you’re going to have at almost any hotel. Even when I was in a tiny little business hotel in Tampa or in Fort Meyers or places like that, they’ve got snacks in the area, but man! They are outrageously expensive.
William: So you can save yourself some time and money and the $10 fee or whatever the cost of the fee is, is a nice convenience. It’s going to be less than what you would pay if you bought the stuff there. And you get what you want. You can’t guarantee that the hotel is really going to have the things that you want or need.
Lee: That is so true.
William: So that’s just something to keep in mind.
Alright, those were our tips to help improve your hotel experience. They are simple, they are basic, but you may not have thought of them before and hopefully it gives you some ideas of just some things that you can plan ahead and do and make your experience just a little bit better when you’re on your next vacation to Orlando.
As always, we want to remind you that show notes are going to be available at orlandolocal.com/31 for this show and you get a free transcript there. And of course there are links to subscribe to the show. providing value for you or maybe if your value is declining, let us know. Give us a comment at orlandolocal.com/31
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