7 Secrets From Former Hilton Employees
There's plenty that even regular travelers don't know about this hotel chain.
Hilton might be the best-known hotel chain in America—not because of its offerings, per se, but because of its family members' penchant for appearing on reality television. But Hilton the company is nothing to sneeze at, with more than a century-old pedigree of hospitality, now spread across six continents. If you haven't yet stayed in one of the conglomerate's 200,000-odd rooms, you almost certainly will one day. And here's how to make the most of it, straight from the folks who'd know most. Read on to learn the best Hilton secrets from former employees.
Book with Hilton's reservations team to avoid getting bumped.
It's a traveler's worst nightmare: You book a room, only to learn, mere days before your flight, that you've been bumped. For Hilton, priority as to who gets bumped or not is broken up into a sort of tier system, a former employee said on Reddit under the username NeoPendragon117. "If anyone's gonna get bumped, it's gonna be third-parties over direct reservations," they say. "Hotels do sometimes overbook. It sucks but the math [works] for them."
They explain that people who book through a popular third-party site like Priceline are more likely to lose their reservation. If you book through a third-party site you've never heard of—one that likely offers a price too good to be true—then you're on even thinner ice. Your best bet is to book directly with Hilton's reservations team either online or via phone.
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You can also angle for a price match.
Speaking of third-party sites, if you see a rate from a place like Priceline, Orbitz, or Kayak (or other reputable sites with big enough advertising budgets to be household names), mention it to the booking agent. In their Reddit thread, the former employee, who worked in the reservations department, said the hotel might match your price, provided you keep all of the key details, from the location to the length of your stay, exactly the same.
Yes, you can book connecting rooms.
You no longer need to leave things up to chance (and the whims of a reservations algorithm). Launched early last year, a new Hilton program, very aptly called Confirmed Connecting Rooms, allows you to book adjacent rooms.
"[Guests] told us they wanted more flexibility in their travel space and experience," Tripp McLaughlin, the head of Hilton's Motto by Hilton chain—which spearheaded the initiative—said in a press release. The connecting rooms feature is currently available across all 18 hotel chains in Hilton's portfolio, and you can book your adjoining rooms via Hilton.com or the Hilton Honors App.
Bothering the front desk could jeopardize upgrades.
We get it: Sometimes a hotel room is less than perfect. Maybe there's a funky smell, or the blankets aren't fluffy enough, or maybe you're just too close to the elevator. But you should be judicious in what matters you bring to the front desk, according to one front desk staffer, or you might end up on a gray list that could hurt your future chances at an upgrade.
"It does [but] only if you put in guest assistance requests over and over," the employee, who goes by Bellboy13, said in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, responding to someone wondering about the irritation threshold for Hilton's front desk employees. "As long as you're not giving them a hard time, it won't affect future stays."
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You should mention your membership status.
It's natural to imagine that, when you start talking to a Hilton employee, all of your lodging history with the hotel chain is automatically teed up. (C'mon, why else would they ask for your name and phone number from the jump?) But according to Bellboy13, all employees can see on their end is how many points you have. If you want the Hilton agent to know you're part of Hilton's Honors rewards program, you'll have to make that clear to whomever you're talking to.
And it's worth doing. "If anything, at my hotel, [guests who stay with points] are the most fun," Bellboy13 says. "They're usually there for vacation and not work. They're more relaxed, and you can spend more time with them to get to know them which in turn, makes for a better guest experience."
Call ahead for special requests.
Whether you end up staying at a Hilton for a business trip or a vacation, calling ahead can get you some perks. It's possible to get a room upgrade or anything extra you might need during the stay and it won't bother the staff as much, if they're prepared.
Bellboy13 says you should call as early as possible, especially if you're planning a special event during your stay. Some people bring their partners and plan on proposing or doing something above and beyond, and the concierge can help make it more special.
"They'll help set up the room, any amenity requests you may have for the room, and be able to help coordinate the ring placement (if that's something you'll need help with)," Bellboy13 says. If you wait until you're already checking in, you might be rushing around, or risk not having everything you need.
Avoid booking the non-refundable room.
Booking a non-refundable or pre-paid room might seem worth it, thanks to the discount offered, but you should try and stick with the normal rate. If you book directly through the hotel, you might be able to get money back (depending on your situation) if you have to cancel, but you won't get money back if you book through a third party like Expedia or Priceline.
According to USA Today you can get a refund when you're sick, if there's a bad weather advisory, or if your circumstances end up changing. A lot of the time the hotel will refund you if there's a reasonable excuse. In a thread on Reddit, @Clear-Reality-944 said you "should call between 11:00 AM and 2:30 because there's a lull from check-out to check-in." They added that you can try and get your refund right through the front desk (no need for a manager), and if they can't help you, they'll find someone who will.
The pre-paid rate feels more locked in and you'll have to go back and forth with the hotel a bit more than you would if you were cancelling a regular booking.