The number one reason to have a favorite hotel

Kimpton, Travel Tales 6

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Most of us have a favorite brand of hotels for one reason or another.  I’m going to talk about why you need to have a favorite hotel.  I travel to San Francisco several times a year for business and pleasure, and they totally came through for me on an upcoming trip.

Three very good reasons to have a favorite hotel

The staff gets to know you by name

No matter how high of a level of status you have with a hotel loyalty program, if the hotel location you visit remembers that you visit their location frequently, you’ll be treated much better.  This may mean a surprise upgrade or even a special treat waiting for you in your room.  If nothing else, it’s always nice to have people remember you and greet you by name when you arrive.

You build loyalty status so much faster

By visiting the same hotel, you’re concentrating your stays with one hotel loyalty program.  When you do that, you build status faster and you’ll earn more free nights quicker.  Besides the obvious step of signing up for your favorite hotel’s loyalty program, be sure to sign up for every promotion that is offered by that loyalty program.  Even if you don’t have any stays planned, promotion generally have a limited window of time to sign up, so if you book a stay later, you’ll want to get the extra benefits from that promotion.

You’ll be familiar with the surrounding area

When you return to the same hotel again and again, you’ll become familiar with the surrounding area of the hotel.  You’ll know where the best places are to eat, grab a drink, or hit the market for something you forgot or ran out of.  If you visit often enough, you may even become the Mayor on Swarm/Foursqaure!

But………………..

The number 1 reason to have a favorite hotel

The number one reason to have a favorite hotel in cities that you visit often is that they can save your bacon when there’s no vacancy.  Most people don’t realize it, but hotels almost always keep one or two rooms available for when special guests need a room.  This happened to me on my upcoming trip to San Francisco for a finance conference I’m attending.

For personal trips, I’m always on top of booking my flights and rooms because I’m looking forward to a few days away from the office.  When it comes to business trips, I think I have some sort of mental block and often book flights and hotels only a few weeks out.  This almost happens because my work schedule can be quite hectic and work plans tend to change last minute.

Next week, I’m flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco for $99 each way on a private jet for a finance conference.  A couple weeks ago, I went to book a room for one night at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake.  The Drake is my favorite hotel in San Francisco for a number of reasons – great location near Union Square, historic building with personality, super friendly staff, the room rates are usually reasonable for San Francisco, and it is part of my favorite loyalty program, Kimpton Inner Circle.  However, there was no space available.  Bummer!

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake availability June 2016

So, my usual alternative is to stay the redesigned Kimpton Hotel Buchanan.  Being that it is located in Japantown, it is a little further out from central San Francisco, but I still get treated very well there, I receive Kimpton stay credits towards free nights & renewed status, and it is a quick Uber ride (use my referral link to get $15 off your first ride) back to the main parts of San Francisco.

But, the Kimpton Hotel Buchanan was booked too!

Kimpton The Buchanan availability June 2016

Uh oh.  Although Kimpton is my favorite, I’m willing to stay at other hotels when they’re not available.  So, let’s check Hyatt’s availability.

Hyatt San Francisco not available

Dang!  No availability at Hyatt.  What about Hilton?

Hilton not available

Uh oh, this is getting serious.  What about Marriott?

Marriott San Francisco availability

Ok, there’s some availability.  But, do I really want to pay $500+tax for the lowest available Marriott properties in San Francisco?  Um, no!  I also checked with some other hotel sites and even the non-name brand hotels were in the $500+ range.

Lauren at Kimpton Sir Francis Drake to the rescue

Lauren at Kimpton Sir Francis DrakeI called up my friend Lauren (who is the assistant to the General Manager) at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake to ask what’s going on.  She informed me that there’s a conference in town that week, which is why there’s very little availability across all of San Francisco.

I then asked if the Drake has any rooms available that aren’t listed on the website.  I explain my situation, and she agrees to look into it for me and get back to me before the end of the day.

A short while later, I receive an email confirmation of my reservation from Lauren!  She had saved the day.  The rate was comparable to many of the other hotels that I had found, but at least I get to stay in my preferred hotel.  Lauren had given me the “friends and family” rate so my price would be a little lower than what an average person off the street would have paid.

Double Stay Credit Promotion

Literally the next day after Lauren booked my room, Kimpton came out with a Double Stay Credit promotion.  Just my luck, right?  I reached out to Lauren about the promotion, and she said it would be no problem to add that promotion to my reservation.  How awesome is she?!?!?!

Which card to use for this hotel stay?

IHG bought Kimpton a little while ago, but there still are no reciprocal benefits for using the Chase IHG Visa at Kimpton properties.  I’m only staying here for one night, so my card of choice it the Barclay Arrival so that I can offset a portion of my bill with the points I’ve built up.

Click on the affiliate banner below to apply for the Chase IHG or Barclay Arrival credit cards, or you can always pick something that works best for you.

Conclusion

Would any of this been possible if I was just a random traveler without a relationship built up with my favorite hotel?  I highly doubt it.  We’ve all had our share of bad customer service experiences at hotels.  Kimpton is known for having excellent customer service and going out of their way to help guests, but I am 100% positive that having a good relationship with the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake is the reason they came through for me.

Have you ever had a situation like this?  Do you have a favorite hotel in the cities that you travel to?

The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and have not been reviewed or endorsed by any company or third-party, unless clearly stated otherwise. The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the advertiser. It is not the advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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About the author / 

Lee Huffman

Lee grew up loving to travel with his parents. Now he explores the world with his wife, Anna and his two children Timothy and Scarlett. He enjoys being spoiled as a Kimpton Inner Circle Member and taking full advantage of Southwest's Companion Pass. Lee wants to teach his readers how to 'Travel More. Spend Less. Live Better.' using miles, points, tips and tricks.

6 Comments

  1. Guy Thomas June 4, 2016 at 10:13 pm -  Reply

    A dollar to a donut Lauren wishes you hadn’t blabbed her name or this story for every Tim, Dick and Harry to read on the internet.

    Just like Donald Duck is congenitally unable to filter anything that pours out of his pie hole.

    • Lee Huffman June 5, 2016 at 10:57 am -  Reply

      Guy, thanks for the feedback. You bring up a good point about respecting people’s privacy and personal information. I spoke with Lauren a couple of weeks ago about the post idea and shared the post when it went live. In hindsight, since I included her name and our picture, I should have sent it to her for review before it was published. My intent was to share how awesome I feel the staff at Kimpton properties are, and how they are willing and able to go above and beyond to make guests’ stays as awesome as they can. My exuberance may have clouded my judgement.

      I brought up your concerns with Lauren and offered to edit the post if she felt that I overstepped in any way. At this point, she is ok with it as-is because Kimpton guests are very social media inclined and post names, kudos, and pictures of Kimpton’s staff all the time. If, at any time, Lauren or any one from Kimpton or the Drake feels I should make a change, I will do so immediately.

      Again, I thank you for taking the time to read my posts and share your concerns. I have learned a valuable lesson, and I have you to thank for it. I will certainly be more cautious in the future.

  2. Ben June 5, 2016 at 8:18 am -  Reply

    Fantastic post, Lee! It’s great to hear you were able to find a room in one of your favourite hotels in the San Francisco area by simply messaging your friend! I hope you enjoy your trip!

    • Lee Huffman June 5, 2016 at 11:02 am -  Reply

      Thanks Ben. I went from an “uh oh” moment when I realized most of the preferred properties were booked, to a feeling of relief when the Drake was able to accommodate me. I’m glad that they had space available, but wouldn’t have had any hard feelings if they didn’t. I would have just had to settle for a less awesome experience. The SF Marriott properties are almost as nice, but I know that I wouldn’t have received as great of a welcome with my Marriott Gold status as I am used to with my Kimpton Inner Circle status. I hope my experience will help you consider a Kimpton property the next time you travel to a location where they’re at.

  3. Jason June 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm -  Reply

    Ahhh if we could all had a Lauren in our lives things would be just perfect!! I 100% agree with your article. And I have to say I think if I had to pick a reasonable hotel in San Francisco to stay the Sir Francis Drake is a a great hotel. I can’t put my finger on it but it has a charm that the Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott can’t touch. They are kind of personable so I can totally see you making friends with the employees.

    My situation is almost the exact opposite I live in San Francisco and travel to Los Angeles all the time. I have my favorite hotels as well, and it’s the first place I look up everytime I need a room. They have come through for me many times and I know it’s just because they knew me!! I love the area and we all know LA is awesome but it doesn’t take much to wonder where you probably shouldn’t be so I agree with knowing the area. I think you forgot to add one important thing which for me is a biggie!! You don’t have to wonder if the room is clean or not!! Many hotels big or small have big or small problems that they aren’t able to control. We all have went to hotels we are not used to and all instantly become the orkin man. I know almost zilch about bugs until i wal into a room I don’t know, now all the sudden I’ve worked with bugs all my life. Lol its nice to know when young get to the hotel room that it is going to be a clean room and not have to pull out your pest control hat:-)

    • Lee Huffman June 9, 2016 at 3:19 pm -  Reply

      I totally agree Jason. Every hotel needs people who care about the success of the property and the brand, which results in a stay that meets the customer’s expectations. I had a recent stay at the Marriott Ko’Olina where there was a live roach in our room. Where there’s one, there are many more “friends” that you don’t see! At first, the housekeeping wasn’t concerned, until I posted the pic on Instagram, then Marriott corporate reached out to me to help resolve the issue. It was great that they got involved, but they shouldn’t have had to!

      Which properties do you stay at in LA?

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