Is the comments box the best way to make special requests for a online reservation? Who reads the comments? What action is taken? I called two days before arrival at the hotel for a recent stay and could not get the request honored. I spoke with a manager at the hotel and she said I should have made the request via the comment box. What is the proper protocol?
I have found that it is hit-and-miss with that comment field. Recently, at a long, five-day weekend stay in southern CA, three consecutive hotels were able to react to my comments that "upgrades are always appreciated, thanks." by giving me a suite upgrade. Granted these were shorter stays, but the hotels in two cases were sold out, so this was a generous thing for them to do for someone staying there at less than rack rate (which I was).
Alos it never hurts to ask at check-in to see if the comments have been noted. Larger hotels send an online concierge email that allows a free comment field.
Good luck on that in the future.
"I spoke with a manager at the hotel and she said I should have made the request via the comment box. "
There are too many variables, so I refrain from using the term, "protocol" because there really isn't any easy answer.
The biggest variable is probably training. Yesteryear, with high occupancy, there may have been 1 or 2 designated people handling room assignments. Now, all hands on deck.
Add brand to the list of variables and changes that went into effect mid-2009 reduced the types of requests that could be honored. For example, unless an exception is made, policy has all but eliminated comp upgrades at Residence Inn and Towneplace Suites.
Pinegreeman's example illustrates that requesting a specific room is best done directly. I do this myself by calling or face to face at the front desk.
Using 2009 as a baseline and relatively high frequency of stays at 3 brands, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Courtyard and SpringHill Suites, my experience w/comment box is 70% hit, 30% miss. These brands typically have rooms that meet my needs for business or leisure. My usual comments entered at the time of reservation are:
Excluding properties where Queen beds are the only bed type available, using the comment box to request the king bed and mini-fridge, the hit rate is 100% and 90% respectively.
At Marriott and Renaissance, it's 100% on the king, but the mini-fridge climbs to a 70-80% miss. Upon entering the room, I have to call. Twice there were no mini-fridges available.
Excluding brands/properties that only have standard rooms, the comp upgrade to a 1 br king or a 1 br corner king exceeds expectations.
To increase the hit rate, I do the following:
Despite Marriott's smoke-free policy since 2006, the incidence of residual tobacco smoke contaminated rooms encountered over the past year was much higher than expected. The comment box permits limited characters; so requesting that the room be signed-off on is done at step 2 and reconfirmed at step 3.
Complicated? Time intensive? High touch? Lower miss rate?
All of the above.
Room choice assurance is a funny thing. At one Marriott hotel that I frequent a lot the staff try to ensure that I always get the same room on the same floor every time. There is something called a "room block" that spells out the need for me (in this case) to have that room blocked in almost all cases. Is it perfect? Hardly? Is it nice when it works? Sure is. I do not know the percentage success that I;ve had but it's high.