But what happens when your hotel doesn’t meet your expectations? And what should you do to resolve the issue?
Online hotel reviews are available from a number of different sites such as TripAdvisor where you can compare hotel ratings. This sort of guide is a good source of information about hotels and the facilities.
However, I’ve noticed that when rooms at highly rated hotels are booked though discount room sites (especially last-minute deals), the hotel is actually filling up their cheapest and worst rooms. So you could find that the room does not match your expectations, despite the great reviews.
There are two scenarios: one where you bought a hotel room as part of a package (i.e. flights, accommodation and transfers are purchased from one provider), and one where you booked the room with the hotel directly or via their website.
If you purchased the hotel accommodation directly and you find it to be substandard, you should report the issue immediately. I would recommend that you report the issue to the Duty Manager immediately. Clearly explain the issue and state what action you expect from management. Take a note of the person’s name, date and time of conversation and what (if anything) was agreed. If you feel that the room is substandard, then you should ask to be moved to another room.
If they cannot move you to another room or are unable or unwilling to resolve the issue, be sure to make a formal complaint. You can use resolver.co.uk to submit and manage your complaint. At this stage, it is important that your issue is formally submitted in writing.
Be sure to collect as much evidence as you can during your stay to support your case including:
• A diary of your problem;
• Photos or video coverage;
• Names and addresses of anyone who has experienced the same issue;
• Receipts for any monies that you needed to spend as a result of the issue
When you submit the issue ensure you explain what happened, your expected outcome and provide as much information and evidence as possible to support your case.
If you have the same issue but have booked through a travel agent or website, it is important to note that they are acting as the agent for the hotel. Therefore your contract is with the hotel and not with the website or travel agent.
Legally, they do need to ensure the information they have provided you is accurate but this can be a difficult to prove.
If you bought the room using your credit card and the hotel cost more than £100 (but less than £30,000) then under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the Credit Card company is also responsible for your issue. Therefore you should contact them and ask for compensation.
If the hotel was abroad, but you booked through a UK website or company, you may be able to make a UK claim. If not, then you will need to make the claim through the local country’s complaints system. The European Consumer Centre based in Basildon can assist (http://www.ukecc.net/) on 08456 040 503. Their role is to help with cross border disputes.
If you accommodation was part of a package holiday then your rights are different. The package must include two of the following: transport and/or accommodation, and/or other tourist activities. If that is the case, then The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 cover the accommodation. These regulations will cover the person who booked the trip plus any other passengers on the trip. The regulation states you should get what you paid for and it is the company’s responsibility to ensure these standards are met.
As previously mentioned, you should raise your issue whilst on holiday and if the issue is not addressed, you have 28 days upon returning to raise your case. If you are not satisfied with the response you can raise the issue with the membership organisation such as the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) or The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). They will offer you independent arbitration.
Your final choice if the issue cannot be resolved is to raise your case using the Courts service. You can use Money Claims Online (MCOL) to raise an issue, as there is no Ombudsman for hotels. There is a fee, but it is quick and easy to submit an issue. 80% of issues are resolved before a Court track is issued and you can close the case at anytime.