Secrets of a Front Desk Agent V: How to Best Check Hotel Reviews

December 2, 2015
Christina Nguyen
3 min read

Ask any hotel front desk agent or front office manager what they wish every guest would do before staying at a hotel. You would think reading property reviews is commonplace knowledge these days, but all too often, this research is a brief glance compared to all the other research and planning that goes into traveling. As a front desk manager, I have heard the phrase, “this isn’t what I was expecting” too many times.

There's more to booking the right hotel room for you thank you think.
There’s more to booking the right hotel room for you thank you think.

Read the hotel reviews to know what to expect.

People do not do this often enough. The number of different things that a hotel room is expected to have and how they are prioritized varies between people. A great room should have a stunning view, be spacious, and fully furnished, right? This sounds pretty standard, but even each of these things cannot be perfectly met. Then go into whether someone wants a firm bed or a soft bed, top floor or bottom floor, quiet or close to all the amenities– all these combinations are as endless as shuffling a deck of cards. Read the reviews and make a list prioritizing what you are most looking for out of your stay. I guarantee, unless you’re willing to drop a grand a night, you will have to make some compromise.

Prioritize your needs. 

Perhaps the place has a common complaint of terrible views and thin walls. Consider what aspects would and wouldn’t bother you. A historical/old property will have a problem of thin walls so either bring some earplugs, or choose a newly built hotel. If a great view is that important to you, you will have to book it for a higher price or communicate to the front desk agent. I had previously discussed the importance of making the front desk agent your new best friend. They may be able to work with you in getting the best view for your price range. Use this skill to get what is most important to you in a hotel room.

Research the average price range of comparable hotels.

People tend to not look closely at reviews especially when seeing the price of the room they’re about to book. “$400.00 for a room? I’m sure this room will be better than those other rooms the terrible reviews are talking about.” If you make sure to check the prices of the other surrounding hotels, you might find out $400.00 is the simplest, standard room across the board, and the type of room your are looking for is actually $600.00. This is why you really need to be checking the average prices for the nearby properties. No, you can’t get the same size room in Santa Barbara as you would in Vegas for the same price. The time of year will also affect the average rate, so keep in mind that just because you are paying a “lot of money” for a room doesn’t mean it will be what you are expecting.

Take hotel reviews with a grain of salt.

Sometimes the 1-star reviews are just the petty people trying to get something for free or are overreacting to normal policy. Take the good and bad with a grain of salt and remember that a review is only one side of the story. TripAdvisor and Yelp are great to help you see something you might have a problem with that you didn’t think of beforehand. Some hotel chains have their very own review sites with specific customer surveys. After reading the reviews and knowing what you want, call the hotel directly to get a feel for the place. Before you let the worst review scare you away, remember: being a front desk agent is not an easy job. Speaking with one directly may help you decide better where you should book. In the end, it’s not really about the hotel you are staying at, but the destination. The most experienced travelers just want a clean room and to spend more time enjoying the town and local entertainment.

Happy traveling, and be sure to check back at this blog for stories on Wetravel’s best group trips!

If you have any inquiries please reach the blog editor, Christina Nguyen, at