Protecting yourself against the dreaded lost hotel reservation

There are few things in life as distressing as the lost hotel reservation. As in finally arriving to your destination, going to check in, and then being told in no uncertain terms that your hotel reservation can't be found in the computer system. If this happens, don't blow your top and don't resolve yourself to sleeping on a park bench. Here are some tips on handling -- and protecting yourself against -- lost or missing hotel reservations.

Plan ahead. When making lodging arrangements, consider prepaying your first night's stay with a credit card so that there will be a definitive record that you can refer back to. Also, print out any confirmation documents that you receive and bring them with you. Don't leave them behind tucked safely in your desk drawer where they won't do you any good. This way, if you come up against a lost hotel reservation you'll have plenty of evidence that could pay off in your favor.

Ask for a free upgrade. Talk about making a lost hotel reservation pay off -- how about getting upgraded from an economy room to a full blown king sized suite? If the hotel is booked solid and this isn't an option, inquire about the hotel making lodging arrangements for you at another nearby hotel and paying for cab fare to get you there. If this sounds to you like you're being pushy, you aren't. As long as you're polite about it and not cantankerous, the hotel should be willing to bend over backwards to accommodate their error.

Take it higher. When all else fails, don't just walk away from the check-in counter dejectedly. Escalate the issue with the person in charge. Don't walk away without at least talking to one other person about the issue. On many occasions, human error (like a misspelled name) is to blame and getting someone else involved could be the key to rediscovering your lost reservation.

The key to preventing a lost hotel reservation is to save all documentation of your reservation and keep it with you when you travel. The trick to arriving at a solution that could actually benefit you in the end is by taking a calm, polite approach to working out the problem. Blowing up at a desk clerk won't help them find your lost reservation any quicker, and it could leave you worse off than you were to begin with.

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