The old expression - you never get a second chance to make a first impression - is somewhat worn, but nonetheless stands very true, particularly when it comes to hotels and you.
Both the hotel and yourself will get a chance to make a good impression on each other. If this goes well, then it can certainly work in your favour as far as getting a good hotel at a good rate is concerned, and also in their favour because they will be more likely to gain a customer.
When you are booking a hotel you will obviously want to try to get not only a good rate, hopefully one which is considerably below the listed rate, but also perhaps a free upgrade or some other option thrown in to persuade you to stay. But the impression that you give either in person or on the phone will make a considerable impact on the likely success on any such bartering. Being too formal or official is likely to simply to come across as though you are a business booking perhaps an official visit, in which case the hotel is likely to charge the full rate. Similarly, if you come across as too friendly and 'chummy' this can be rather off-putting, and almost considered slimy, and not likely to be very successful.
The best approach is simply to be polite and friendly, without throwing in small talk. If you are going in person and wish to try to negotiate a good rate, then it is worth considering if you are in a party who actually goes in to do this. It may seem terrible cliche, but it has been proven to work almost 100% even today, if the receptionist is a young man, send in the prettiest young woman in your party in your room and you are more likely to get a reduced rate, compared to anyone else trying the same trick. If on the other hand the receptionist is a woman, sending in the most presentable man will also have more success.
Of course, it isn't all about how you present yourself to the hotel, because whilst it is important that you gain a good price, and this will largely be based on you and your approach, it is important that, from your point of view, the hotel gives you an equally good impression.
Consider such things as how quickly they answered the phone, what their manner was like when they answered the phone, and how open to the idea of bartering or discussing the options available were they? If they took a long time to answer the phone, they seemed harassed or flustered and keen to simply deal with you and move on to the next customer, then this is likely to be indicative of the kind of level of service that you will receive as a customer actually resident at the hotel. If something needs dealing with in your room such as a broken lock, a window that won't shut or other small problems, then you do not want to find that you are calling reception and waiting for ages, or that they are too busy to be bothered to provide you with a quick and efficient service.
If you are calling a toll free number, remember of course that this will probably not be the hotel itself, and will be a call centre somewhere which deals with the reservations for a number of hotels on their behalf, and as a result will have far less to deal with and will be able to focus entirely on the customer service. This doesn't give you a genuine impression of the hotel, and it is always preferable to ensure that it is the hotel itself that gives you their impression and not a third party paid specifically to give a good impression.
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