2. Requirements listed as preferences

I prefer Coke over Pepsi, but I can’t tolerate having my family stay in a hotel room that reeks of smoke. Nevertheless, many online portals will list key hotel room choices – such as bed types and smoking rooms – merely as preferences that they won’t guarantee.

How to avoid this: First, scrutinize the fine print to make sure that the website guarantees the room you want, paying attention to weasel words like preference. If you need a nonsmoking room and the site won’t guarantee it, go back and reserve a hotel that’s entirely nonsmoking. If you’re already stuck with a reservation from a site without the right guarantees, call the hotel and ask a manager to set aside the type of room you need. They’ll usually do this – it’s harder to say no to a living, breathing, speaking person.

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