When traveling for business choosing a hotel can be one of the most important decisions. Making the wrong choice can wreak havoc on your entire trip. However, by spending a little extra time thinking through your decision you can maximize the benefits of staying in the right place.
Distance from airport and office. The first thing I look at when deciding on a hotel is how far I’m willing to travel to get to the office, and how far I’m willing to travel to get to and from the airport. There is almost always an option near or on the airport grounds, but whether I choose that hotel depends on what my priorities and arrival time.
If the office I’m visiting is not close to the airport, for an overnight trip with a late arrival I will often choose to stay close to the airport. After a long day of travel I want my trip to the hotel to be as short as possible so I can check-in and rest up. However, if you’re looking for a shorter morning commute you’ll want to choose a hotel by where you are working. Which brings up another point. If the commute time is going to be long due to traffic I may forgo the extra sleep and choose to stay closer to the office so I don’t risk showing up late. (Note: A good way to get an estimate on traffic and travel time is to look on Google Maps before your trip and click on show traffic, then click typical traffic to see what traffic is like during the day and time when you’ll be traveling. This could help you in choosing alternative driving routes as well. There are other ways to use Google Maps to estimate traffic so play around with it to find the estimate that you are most comfortable with.) If I’m on a trip for multiple days I almost always will choose a hotel close to the office.
Once I’ve decided on whether to stay close to the airport or the office I then move on to more specific criteria to choose the actual hotel.
Rewards Program. One of the next things I look for when deciding on a hotel is the type of rewards program they have. Basically, I never stay anywhere unless I’m getting points for it. Most of my points are with Hilton, although Marriot is my backup. (You can sign up for Hilton HHonors rewards here and you can sign up for Marriott rewards here.)
Food. Another thing that factors in for choosing a where to stay is the food offerings at the hotel and in the surrounding area. I prefer for the hotel to have good breakfast (preferably a made to order breakfast like you’ll see at Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inn), and room service is always nice for nights when I’m too exhausted to make any other efforts. Having quality restaurants surrounding the hotel is big too. Not just for me, but also for when I meet clients for dinner (assuming that my hotel is close to my client).
Gym and Pool. When I have time on a business trip I like to either swim or work out in a gym to clear my mind. Luckily most hotels have a pool and/or gym so I don’t usually have to worry too much about this being included. However, if I’m in a cold weather city and one hotel has an indoor pool and the other is outdoors I’ll choose the hotel with the indoor pool if everything else checks out.
Reviews. One thing I like to look at when I’m choosing a hotel is reviews. I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing this when I stay at a Hilton because I’m rarely disappointed, but when a Hilton doesn’t make sense (or isn’t available) I’ll glance at the reviews to help me make a final decision. TripAdvisor is a good website to use for hotel reviews. I don’t fret too much about reviews unless I’m seeing an alarmingly low rating, but it does give me a little peace of mind before I travel.
Hard-wired connection. Sometimes Wifi is ridiculously slow. It’s because of this that I like to find out if the hotel has a hard-wired connection to connect via Ethernet cable. You’ll often see these connections on or near the desk in your room. Connecting via Ethernet provides a much smoother and faster connection. I recommend a long compact retractable Ethernet cable such as this eight foot one from Belkin. Sometimes the hotel will have a non-removable Ethernet cable built in to the wall or desk. Problem with this is the cable is often not very long which doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility on where you work in your room. When this happens you’ll need an adapter to connect your longer cable to the hotels Ethernet cable. This isn’t a make or break deal for me in choosing a hotel, but if I have two equal options and one has a hard-wired option and the other doesn’t I’ll go with the hotel that has hard-wired (again, in addition to Wifi).
Laundry service and fridge. If I’m staying somewhere for multiple days I like to check and see if they have a laundry service or facilities available so I can wash my clothes as needed at the hotel. I also check to see if they have a fridge so I can buy healthier foods from a grocery store and store leftovers.
Fun things to do nearby. If I’m staying multiple days I may choose a hotel that has something fun for me to do nearby. Business travel doesn’t have to always be all business and no fun. It’s good to take care of yourself during a business trip and have some fun so this weighs into my decision making when choosing a hotel.
Business Center. You never know when you’ll need to print something out on a business trip. I don’t use business centers often, but it’s something I like to know is there just in case something comes up.
Readers, what are some things that go into your decision making when choosing a hotel for a business trip?
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