Staying at a hotel is often the best accommodation someone can get when traveling to other cities. In the case of traveling to other countries, it might also be the safest choice. These buildings are usually large structures in the middle of the city center, near a famous tourist spot, and are easily accessible from airports, bus and train stations. The service in hotels is expected to be at least good, complete with housekeeping, room service, and other amenities that are not regularly provided by other kinds of establishments.

What we don’t see in their brochures and websites, and while booking a room in an app, is the different ways a hotel milks their guests upon checking in. These hotels are machines that generate money for the owners and stockholders and get it from, yes, their honored and esteemed guests. This article discusses these sneaky methods a hotel uses to get a guest to spend more. While not necessarily illegal, sometimes we feel kind of cheated as soon as we see the bill. But it’s not all bad, hotels also find ways to show their appreciation and loyalty to their customers. Some things that make guests feel valued and special, making them loyal guests in return. Let’s check them all out.

20 Sneaky: Upselling

It’s mild, not forced on us, and virtually unnoticeable, but the hotel is already upselling us the minute we check in. From a simple question of asking if we want a better room, offering a nice view, it’s a form of upselling. Getting the guest to take a better room means spending more, sometimes that’s what the customer likes, so hear them out. It’s not like it’s telemarketing. These are gentle offers that are generally done to add comfort to their guest, but it is also one sure way to make more money from someone that’s already hooked, in a manner of speaking.

19 Sneaky: Minibar and Room Service

The classics of the hotel business, and probably the highest markup in the history of all markups, perhaps out of all the businesses in the world, is the mini bar and room service. Prices from these available services are so high, most people who check in know better than to use anything in the minibar. Our parents taught us well not to do it when we were young. I remember that for sure. The funny thing is that there are still people who get caught in this web of treats. How comfortable is it to want something and not have to go down and take the elevator ride, or use your feet and legs? Too comfortable on the bed to go next door to the convenient store and buy something for $8 less? The hotel has you covered -- at a premium cost.

18 Sneaky: Extended Stay Offers

This is more of a good offer to a guest as much as it is an opportunity to earn more by the hotel. Hotels will offer extended stays to guests that are kind of hard to resist. This comes at an opportune time to us, especially if our travel itinerary is very flexible. Some hotels will offer an extended stay that is hard to refuse, some, very weirdly, don’t even bother offering them, so don’t book again with those. Most offers are very tempting, giving their guest the option to stay an additional day or two with a 50 percent discount. That’s one offer even a Corleone would find hard to refuse.

17 Sneaky: Spa and Pool

Have you noticed hotels nowadays have new and very nice looking spas and swimming pools? Not only that, they have an assortment of bars, food courts, and such near the pool and spa. This was because, since 2013, research has shown an increase in hotel revenue based on their food and beverage sales and other services around these facilities. These are the spa, pools, and even golfing properties. It’s like a resort in a hotel for guests who have no place to go but chill in the hotel’s premises. But again, this is another means of making extra money by hotels.

16 Sneaky: Holiday Products

Hotels adapt with the times, with this particular item, hotels change their themes, or at least the reception’s look, based on the holiday presently, or the coming holiday. If it is summertime, hotels will have plenty of products used by tourists and guests during the season. From sunscreen to sunglasses in the summer, to mittens and sweaters in the winter, there is everything for the right holiday available in the hotel lobby gift shop or reception area. Just pick up the phone from your hotel room and order one. This is their selling point, even though it’s severely marked up, where else can you get a product while lying down on the bed?

15 Sneaky: Hotel or Lobby Bar

Just like hotel pools and spa facilities, the hotel’s bar or lobby bars have amped up in recent years. The look and feel of these bars nowadays are very inviting, very modern-looking bars that make people want to go inside and check it out. Times really have changed. In my early years, hotel bars always looked boring and uninviting, they kind of looked like a meeting place of people in a badly made spy film. But today, these are hip places to be, comparable to nightclubs, one might say, targeting the millennials and the younger generation of professionals.

14 Sneaky: Parking

Free parking in the urban hotel setting is a vanishing privilege. This is one sure-fire way to make extra income, putting a hefty fee to park a car in the hotel’s parking lot is a charge that is inescapable. Guests have no choice but to shrug and agree to this charge unless they scope the surrounding street and block and find a cheaper parking area. But with the easy access and the added comfort and security, guests just do not bother looking for an alternative anymore. And, if as a guest, one finds it hard to pay such a ridiculous amount for parking, we’re sure there’s something near the hotel building, go and find it.

13 Sneaky: Resort Fees

Some hotels are resort hotels, this is where the tricky resort fees come in. Firstly, resorts are nice places, because that’s a tourist’s destination. We don’t just stay there at the end of the day to rest and sleep, it is where we spend our vacation. So these kinds of hotels have everything, and when we say everything, it really means everything. The best resorts are located on remote islands, so they really should have everything. But sometimes, not all resorts do this, some resorts charge a so-called resort fee. There is no fun debating and disputing this charge when it comes to the end, we just have to be careful upon check-in or upon booking, about what amenities and perks our accommodation give us. Ask the right questions beforehand to avoid these kinds of fees.

12 Sneaky: Towel Replacement

Years ago, if a hotel tells us that they are minimizing their cleaning services for environmental reasons, we would think it was baloney. But with what’s happening today, props to Leo DiCaprio and Al Gore, we tend to agree to what’s written on the door sign. Replacing towels in hotels is not always free anymore. What we usually do is use it once or twice, then leave it on the floor for housekeeping to replace. Now, if we do that, we will get charged for replacement. Hotel policy asks us, in an effort to conserve water and energy, to use our towels for a few days before having it replaced. Now, how long should we use it for before we can avoid the said charge? Three, four days, until it smells or looks off-white?

11 Sneaky: In-room Movie and Internet Connection

So this particular charge is like the fine print in contracts. If you didn’t ask, then you get surprised when it’s time for check out. In-room movies are perks in hotels that are easy to grab, just get the remote and navigate your way to watching a nice movie, then you’re good. Most hotels charge for this service, so be sure to ask. If they are free, then you’re good and golden. But the Internet connection, most hotels have as part of our amenities. But be careful, some hotels will be wired for faster connection, for business purposes, and we might think they are free, but they may not be. Two more ways to milk the guest into spending more money in the hotel.

10 Loyalty: First Impressions

Traditionally, first impressions in the hotel business are the greeting that happens at the reception. Then it evolved to the telephone conversation when guests book over the phone. Nowadays, prospective guests get a first impression of a hotel upon clicking go or enter in the search engine. A professional-looking and user-friendly hotel website is today’s reception greeting. The booking process online is now the telephone conversation. Hotels who value this invest in very nice looking websites, very user-friendly, and very modern-looking pages. If it does not impress the prospective guest, they don’t bother navigating further. What a quick and powerful first impression, isn’t it?

9 Loyalty: Booking Process

Further discussing first impressions comes the booking process. A hotel’s website should be able to do that for a guest as easily as any other hotel booking website out there. Sit down and watch TV for 15 minutes and you would have seen at least three ads about booking websites. Spend time on social media or just browsing web pages, and you’d have seen at least seven hotel booking websites in 10 minutes. An online booking process for a hotel should be as easy and as full of information as these websites. A guest will feel the safest when they book at the hotel website instead of a different one.

8 Loyalty: Incentives

We can’t always avoid booking with other websites because they are really easy and they seem to have good discounts and offers. But hotels today offer incentives to loyal guests: those that book with them directly. If we are the type of traveler who books a hotel of choice wherever we go, it’s only logical to start booking with them directly. Hotels have incentive programs now that rewards guests that book directly with them. Here, we can enjoy very good deals, even better than the ones we are seeing on hotel booking sites. Let’s try it out and maybe, we’ll find that these incentives will never have us going to another site for our hotel booking needs.

7 Loyalty: Online Power

Keeping guests loyal is simple: offer them the best of what the others are offering. Get the best Wifi connection, some hotels just give a guest enough juice to check their social media accounts. Some even have ceilings on usage or peak hours where the connection will get real slow. A hotel’s online power comes with great, better than most hotels, Wifi connectivity. This is also about their exposure in the digital world or on the world wide web. That hotel should appear in a search engine, with a link and website that’s easy to navigate by the most ancient end-users.

6 Loyalty: Exceed Customer Expectations

Exceeding customer service nowadays does not start upon check in anymore. Hotels will reach out to you via email, social media, and other online means once we book a room through their website or an app. This is groundbreaking technology and a very early serving of how a hotel can exceed the customer expectations; servicing the guest days before they even set foot in the hotel. Once on their turf, the hotel staff will shower the guest with the usual, but very specific and targeted service and attention. This is how the business is now, if a guest experiences this in one hotel, they will look for the same treatment in others, and will go back to the first one if they don’t get it.

5 Loyalty: Membership Programs

People cherish those cards that look royal and prestigious, sleek and expensive, they are proud to have one of them in their wallets. Hotels that invest in great-looking membership cards are aces on our book. But the exclusivity of the card has to match the programs that come along to being a member of it. This is when the guests feel valued and feel the hotel’s loyalty to them for a change. Some membership programs are given to loyal customers without a membership fee, it’s like a prize for being with the hotel for such a long time and for such a huge amount of money spent (but they won’t say it like that).

4 Loyalty: Technology Power

The power of technology in the hotel business has changed the game entirely. This is why hotels with no such power should be avoided at all costs. No sane person today would book a hotel room in a hotel that does not have Wifi connectivity. But it’s not just about that anymore. From the simple traditional keys to keyless entries to the smoothest booking process and self-check-ins, using laptops to book is a thing of the past, mobile apps are the now. If your hotel has all of those, then you are in good hands. Just pray that they have a back-up when the power goes down.

3 Loyalty: Loyalty Rewards

Similar to the membership cards, loyalty rewards could come in the form of a membership perk, or for just being a loyal guest. This is where hotels give back to their customers. Elaborate and sometimes greatly rewards are in store for loyal customers. A simple room upgrade for being a loyal customer goes a long way for a guest. Even new guests are offered loyalty privileges, but the best rewards are for those that stuck with them for many years. Special treatment, usual fees waived, access to all the hotel’s facilities, these are just some of the rewards in store for the loyal customer.

2 Loyalty: Immediate Feedback

With the emergence of faster booking comes a faster way to review a hotel and the services they offer. This is received by a good hotel positively. They offer their guest a means to voice their concerns. Not right then and there of course with the question “How was your stay?” Let’s face it, most people will not say what they truly feel, especially if they are in vacation mode, or are too busy to be bothered with such a question. This is why hotels today share a link to the guest upon checking out, or even once they check in or book, where they can answer a short survey of questions that will measure the hotel’s existing services and the quality of service, and more importantly, get the guest’s feedback and suggestions.

1 Loyalty: Personal Touch

Very much like the customer experience, the personal touch is now possible even before the guest steps into the hotel lobby. Auto-replies can be very personal, a hotel just needs a tech employee who can input the right commands for their AI responses. From that first email to the correspondences online, hotels can deliver a personal touch. The easy part is meeting the guest at the hotel. Hotel personnel is now trained to be warmer, and really get personal with the needs and wants of a guest. It’s not an easy thing to do, but guests feel really special when the hotel pulls it off. They have a loyal customer for life if this is done right.

References: Littlehotelier, CNBCSmallbusinessTripsavvyHotelogix