Let’s imagine that you are expecting some visitors at your home. They will arrive and knock on the door or ring the doorbell to announce their arrival. And then before they leave, there will be the ceremonious shaking of hands and hugging as a farewell. This is just a normal everyday phenomenon in our lives, right? Which is why recently, and to our surprise, we found out that one of our clients did not check out of their hotel after their holiday. This was particularly interesting because it had never occurred to us, perhaps as Africans, that this could actually happen, and that ignoring the checking out process is an option. But is checking out of a hotel mandatory? Or is it just customary? Here are a few reasons why it is a necessary process, and why it is to your benefit that you check out of your hotel room, once your stay at a hotel is over.
Your Money Matters.
Yes, I know that the queues at the reception can be unusually crazy and your preference would be to simply slip away quickly and unnoticed. To prevent all that, more and more establishments now require that you present your credit or debit card at the reception while checking into your hotel. Should you happen to leave without checking out, then rest assured that some charges, unapproved by you, will suddenly appear on your credit card. For example, and because the hotel does not have a written record of your time of departure, you could be charged for an extra night’s stay. Proving to the hotel management that you had left at the time that you were supposed to will be difficult and will be an unnecessary hassle. If you are lucky, the hotel will conduct a lock interrogation to see how many times your key opened your door and confirm that you did not enter your room after a certain time on the day you left.
Let’s talk about the mini-bar and the refrigerator, which have now become a basic addition in most hotel rooms. The mini bar usually has a menu indicating the cost of each item and is fully stocked. For some hotels like the Hilton, the Sheraton, and the Intercontinental, the hotels have placed motion sensors at the minibar, which will detect that an item has been removed from the bar. The item will then be charged to your room. When checking out, the staff will take a note of the inventory of all that has been used from the bar and the refrigerator. In case an item was removed from the bar or the fridge, and not used and returned, then this can be corrected during the check-out process. Therefore, it is vital to check out if only to review your incidental charges and ensure that you are paying for only what you have used and for the services that you enjoyed. Remember to ask for that itemized receipt!
Did you have an excellent stay at the hotel? Was it everything that you had hoped it would be? If it is, then providing this vital feedback is crucial and is better done when checking out. As you check out, you should give both positive and negative reviews on how your stay at the hotel was. Hopefully, your review will help to make some much-needed changes. You will also feel a burst of pride as you arrive at the hotel the next time and you see that the improvements you had suggested have been put in place. And to your benefit, there have been some critical suggestions that have brought such excellent results to an establishment, that the guest who made the suggestions, gained a free stay at the hotel for a significant duration! Therefore, be a good sport and drop your review about your stay, whether online or at the front desk.
Politeness costs nothing but gains everything. It is courteous of you to check out of a hotel as it provides an opportunity for you to thank the staff in the case where you have enjoyed your stay at the hotel. This will establish a good rapport between you and the staff of the hotel, especially if you plan to stay at the hotel again. What’s more, checking out informs the hotel that the room is now free. The housekeepers can begin to clean it in preparation for the next guest, to their convenience. The new guests will then be able to check-in early. As karma would have it, you just might be that lucky next guest who gets to check in early! In addition, and although it is not compulsory, giving a tip to the housekeeper or butler is common courtesy at hotels. If you are pleased with the service that you received from the staff, you can leave a tip as you check out. You might not get a chance to meet them once more, but you can leave the tip at the front desk with a note and instructions on who should receive the tip. Or you can leave it on the dressing table or bedside table in your room with a note which has the name of the member of staff who should receive the tip.
Some Dos and Don’ts
And finally, just a few tips for our frequent flyers. When checking in, and when settling your bills, always use a credit card over your debit card. This is in case of any fraud that may occur. When it comes to refunds on a card payment, it is much easier for the transaction to be canceled on a credit card. The credit card issuer will in most cases fight for their own money back. However, with a debit card, your own money will be removed from your account immediately and getting your money back will be incredibly difficult.
Also, please do try to stay at the same hotel or hotel chain if you can. Most of the major hotel chains have Hotel memberships where guests can accrue points whenever you book any of their hotel rooms, and of course, this allows you to create a positive rapport with the staff as a repeat guest. Creating this rapport with the hotel and its staff will lead to amazing hotel perks that you will enjoy. E.g. a welcome champagne or flowers on arrival, a complimentary spa treatment or a surprising upgrade to a suite! What’s more, should you happen to forget something at the hotel during one of your regular stays there, the hotel will inform you about the missing item and keep it for you until the next time you will be at the hotel.
The Author is the Founder and CEO of Saffara Ltd
This article was published in the East African Newspaper on the week of Saturday the 18th of January, 2020, titled, "BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OF YOUR HOTEL".....Click here to read the article
Wanjiru Catherine, CEO