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All vacations are special in their own way, but there are some trips that you want to be even more special than others. That may be in order to celebrate an anniversary, a reunion, a unique destination, a birthday, or in this case a graduation. There are lots of ways to make trips even more special than normal, but one of my tips for making things extra special doesn’t cost a dime or take very much time on your part. When a Mommy Points reader reached out to me a few months ago about a special trip to Hawaii to celebrate his daughter’s graduation, we worked together to put this favorite tip of mine into action.
An easy but often effective way to make a special trip a little extra special is simply to reach out to the hotel and inform them of the occasion and see if they can help turn up the special-o-meter for you. This reader was already was clued in on this tip, but needed help finding the general manager’s name for this particular Hawaiian hotel. He knew I had stayed there before, and while I didn’t contact the GM on my trip, I was able to help him find the GM’s email address. We’ll circle back on how to do that in a minute, but first I want to share his story as an amazing example of how great it can be to have the hotel on your side when trying to make the trip even more amazing for someone you care about.
After reaching out via email to the GM, who connected this family with his executive assistant, the family was told the these sort of special requests are often accommodated by giving them a suite upgrade, but since their (summer) dates were pretty busy, most of the suites were booked but they would put a request on the reservation and see what they could do. Note that this family was using a combo of Hyatt Gold Passport points and two free nights via the Hyatt Visa to pay for their trip. They also were on a Hyatt Diamond challenge, so did have Diamond status via that challenge.
At check-in they were informed they had been given not one, but two connected Deluxe Ocean View rooms in order to spread out and celebrate! This meant their family of four had beds for everyone, two bathrooms, and amazing views!
As if that hadn’t amped up the trip enough, later on there was a knock on the door and the hotel delivered a welcome amenity of local Hawaiian dishes, taro chips, pineapple and mango sodas, and a jar of Macadamia Nut Popcorn with a note from the GM congratulating their daughter on her graduation, and wishing her a great time at the resort and on Kauai. Two minutes later, the two daughters in the connected room came through the connecting door to say they just got a gift, too! They had received big cookies, truffles, popcorn and sodas – perfect for some celebrating teens. Their note also offered congratulations for the graduation and included an extra surprise of a two pool side cabanas for the week (one for each room)! Ultimately they were able to combine them into one large beach cabana instead of two pool cabanas, so they could all relax together.
This family told me many more awesome points about their trip including loving the pools, the convenience of getting snacks in the lounge, the spa, and more, but the most important lines of their email came at the end.
“I am ready to go back. Gotta plan another trip there soon. Wish I could just live there with the arrangement that we had. Wow!”
Everyone wins when a customer leaves saying “wow” and that given the whole wide world of choices, they want to plan another trip back to that same exact hotel soon.
Of course getting all of that just because you reached out to the hotel is not necessarily normal, nor should it be expected, but it does happen. Much more common are some smaller gestures like maybe a special dessert in the room to celebrate a birthday, or a more modest room upgrade, but you never know, and the hotel doesn’t have a chance to make things extra special if you don’t tell them about your occasion. This should go without saying, but I do not recommend pretending you are celebrating an occasion that you aren’t. There are plenty of real things to celebrate and share with the hotel, so don’t rock the world of Travel Karma and make up an event just to get special treatment.
If you want to let the hotel know about your event, here are some tips for doing so:
- Reach out in advance. You will likely have better results if you reach out well in advance of your occasion as opposed to just telling them about your occasion at check-in. The check-in agent may still do what they can, but their resources and time may be much more limited than contacting someone like the GM in advance.
- Send an email to the GM or similar. I’ve also had success with the director of rooms, director of food and beverage, and the marketing department, but I usually try to start with the GM and they can send me to their desired point person. Finding the GM’s email address can be as easy as looking on the hotel’s website, but may also require some google searching and/or Linkedin snooping. Sometimes the hotel website will list one email as a point of contact, and you can certainly start there as well.
- Many hotels use a similar email format, so for example with Hyatt it is usually email@example.com – this means if you find the name, you have probably found the email address. SPG can be trickier as I have found it to be firstname.lastname@example.org For example, Mary.Smth@WHotels.com.
- Use Twitter. If you follow a specific hotel on twitter and can get the specific hotel to follow you (just tweet them and ask), you can send them a direct message and either ask for the GM’s contact info there, or just share your request directly and see who you get referred to.
- Look on TripAdvisor – some GM’s respond to reviews on Trip Advisor and include their email address.
- Pick up the phone. If all else fails, you can pick up the phone and call the hotel the old fashioned way.
- Be polite and humble. Let them know about the special occasion, but unless you are willing to open up your wallet and pay for some extras, I would stop short of asking for much in the way of specifics. Let the hotel do what it can to surprise and delight you – and know that anything extra they do is just that, extra.
- If you end up with a special stay, thank the people that made it happen not only personally, but on the great wide internet. Whether writing a great TripAdvisor review, or raving about them on Twitter or Facebook, share your happiness. Don’t be afraid to thank specific folks who helped make your stay great on TripAdvisor reviews as they sometimes get a little something extra when you do.
I’m not going to specifically call out the hotel in this story as I don’t want to inundate them with people hoping to get two rooms for the points price of one, or set-up unreasonable expectations when people share their special occasions with them. However, I’m sure it isn’t too hard to figure out either, and I did have a fantastic stay there myself even without having a special occasion or contacting them in advance.
What have hotels done to help make stays special for your family, and how did you go about sharing that it was a special trip?