Dear Roxy: Why Wasn't Our Preferred Hotel Available?

Dear Roxy: Why Wasn't Our Preferred Hotel Available?

Dear Roxy is Sharing Travel Experience’s biweekly columnist answering your questions about getting the best value and best experiences during your next hotel stay.

Today, Roxy is talking the topic of hotel availability. Got a hotel question?
Just ask Roxy.

I used one of the online services for a room on an overnight with one of the well-known sites — tried to book a room at the best option & the site said “no rooms available” on our date. Friend’s hubby booked at another chain and when we got there — it was HORRIBLE. And I mean HORRIBLE. The outside looked like a prison, there was no lobby… and the sign outside said “Welcome fishermen and construction crews.

We drove less than a mile back down the street, walked into the hotel I originally wanted and asked if they had any rooms available. Turned out the place was half empty and we got exactly what we wanted.

Why did we have to deal with all this hassle, and how can we avoid it next time?

Marci D. in Canandaigua, New York

hotel availability

So, you didn’t get what you wanted originally…but in the end you did. I hope that didn’t sour your opinion on that hotel, Marci.

Sometimes things happen that are out of the hotel’s control. Like what? Well, maybe they had a block of rooms reserved for a wedding but the groom ran off with the maid of (dis)honor. Maybe they had a soccer team booked but the only minivan left in town broke down. (Yeah, I know, like that would happen!) More likely is the idea that the amount of rooms they allocated to be sold on that site had been filled and more inventory wasn’t added.

Point is, stuff happens; they had planned on being too full for any further online bookings, and therefore closed out their availability. When whatever took place popped up, they were left with “distressed” rooms; in other words, rooms that would cost them money if they remained empty that night. So, they needed to unload those rooms for whatever they could get to whoever walked in. Luckily, that night it was you and you got exactly what you wanted!

In the future, here’s a little hint: If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are apps for that! Sorry, pardon the cliché. Since we are such a mobile and tech-y population, hotels are getting on board with last minute bookings. You can download an app such as Hotel Tonight (available on iPhone, iPad, Android) that only works on mobile phones—no listings on a traditional site. Or keep checking our hotel booking site for last minute deals.

Keep these things in the back of your mind for times when you arrive at the hotel and it has over-promised and under-delivered! Unless everyone in town is full, you have the upper hand in a last-minute “walk-in” situation; ask for the low rate and bargain if you have to. If it’s not last-minute and the hotel you want is displaying no availability online—pick up your phone. I think these smartphones still work to make calls, right?

Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.

Dear Roxy: Why Wasn't Our Preferred Hotel Available?


Roxanne ("Roxy") is the easily distracted, multi-tasking right brain of Fresh Air Lodging. After twenty plus years on the front lines of the hotel industry, she is now in search of socially responsible hotels and other businesses.

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